GOLDEN TREASURE: FROM THE GREEKS TO KYIVAN RUS

GOLDEN TREASURE: FROM THE GREEKS TO KYIVAN RUS SECTIONS:

  • Kyivan Hoards
  • Early Christianity on the Steppes
  • The Great Migration: Romans, Goths, Huns, Slavs
  • Greek Colonies on the Black Sea

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KYIVAN TREASURE HOARDS

Before banks came into being, people often buried their most valuable possessions for safety during periods of unrest. These depositories are called hoards. Ancient hoards are silent witnesses to great catastrophes. Abandoned by their owners, hoards can lie buried in the ground for thousands of years before they are discovered. The inhabitants of Kyivan Rus stowed away their valuables during the disastrous Mongol invasion of the 13th century. Numerous hoards have been discovered throughout Kyivan region and, in all probability, some of them lie hidden still.

In the mid-thirteenth century, Mongol armies swept across the plains of Eastern Europe, destroying and plundering towns and villages. Kyivan Rus was invaded by Genghis Khan’s grandson Batu leading an army of 35,000 mounted warriors. Following a three-month siege by the Mongol army under Batu Khan, the capital of ancient Rus, Kyiv, fell to the invaders in 1240 and was sacked. The territory under Khan Batu’s control came to be known as the Golden Horde. The Mongol khans exacted annual tribute payments from Rus until their final defeat in 1480.

The hoards of that period were often found on ducal estates or near stone churches; they almost exclusively contained women’s jewelry. In Kyivan Rus, kolts were worn as temple pendants suspended from chains, or riasna. Kolts often contained perfumed cloth. Featuring cloisonné enamel designs, kolts were executed in a style often referred to as Russo-Byzantine. Cloisonné is an intricate metalworking technique in which enamel is poured into cells of soldered wire, called cloisons, French for ‘partition.’ While Byzantine influence is apparent, numerous treasures of medieval Kyiv indicate that local goldsmiths maintained traditions of their own. The motif of two birds on either side of a tree is uniquely Kyivan.

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IMAGE CITATION:

1.  Star-Shaped Kolts, late 11th Century – early 13th Century A.D.

Gold: molding, hammering, granulation, filigree

2. Star-Shaped Kolts, late 11th Century – early 13th Century A.D.

Gold: molding, hammering, granulation, filigree

3. Kolts, 12th-13th Centuries A.D.

Gold: stamping, cloisonne

4.  Ornaments (riasna), 11th-12th Centuries A.D.

Gold: stamping, cloisonne

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Next Section: Early Christianity on the Steppes