THE SCYTHIANS by Tamara Talbot Rice


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Information about the Scythian nomads of southern Russia is, for the most part, deduced from objects found in their tombs. Primary sources are restricted to the sparse references made by Chinese, Assyrian, Jewish and Greek historians. The role of these nomads, however, was so important that Herodotus devoted a whole book to them. Mrs. Rice finds the role significant not only in their own era but in subsequent eras. Essentially a pastoral people with an equestrian nature, the Scythians developed a startling animal art, combining elements of abstraction and veracity. They tried to represent in one image ""various poses, often incompatible,"" characteristic of an animal. This technique was echoed in the tapestry, towelling, jewelry, religious accoutrements of the Slavic regions, Central Europe, Scandinavia, and China. Skillfully compiled, the material represents the investigation of historians, many whose works are unavailable in English. The background, geography, art, and battles of the Scythians are discussed cautiously; theories and facts of dubious origin and documentation are questioned. The comprehensive bibliography, the chart about major burials of the Scythians and kindred nomads will be welcomed by the specialist who wishes to pursue this area more thoroughly.

Pub Date: May 3rd, 1957
Publisher: Praeger