2022 1/2oz Austria The Gold of the Scythians .986 Gold Proof Coin
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Some 2,500 years ago, the nomadic Scythian people had a talent for celebrating animals. This was helped by an extraordinary sense of beauty that was awakened and nourished by the brilliance of gold – a brilliance showcased on the fourth coin in The Magic of Gold series, which traces the mysterious nature of gold in ancient cultures.
The Scythians were also skilled in domesticating animals. Among the earliest peoples to master mounted warfare, from the 7th to the 3rd century BC the Scythians moved with their horses and sheep from grazing area to grazing area on the steppes of what is now southern Russia and Ukraine. The Scythian culture disappeared a long time ago, but it lives on through the magic of gold. What remains of their long-lost culture are impressive burial mounds, known as kurgans, which are rich in the precious metal. Since the 19th century, the burial robes of Scythian princes decorated with hundreds of gold sheets have been discovered by archaeologists excavating kurgans. Women's veils and bonnets decorated in this way have also been unearthed. Pressed from gold foil, these pieces were often decorated using elements of ‘animal style’ art; the stylised animals were thought to have supernatural powers. Quivers, dagger hilts and scabbards, ornamental shields and sceptre handles decorated with thick gold sheet have also been found, as have neck rings and bracelets made of solid gold.
A Scythian warrior on horseback gallops in from the right-hand side of the coin’s obverse. The horse and rider are partly obscured by an ornamental band, as are a cauldron, a plough and an axe by another ornamental band in the background on the left-hand side. The principal image on the coin’s reverse is of a golden centrepiece, probably from the later Scythian period, depicting animals locked in combat. The original can be found in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg and is from the collection of Peter the Great.
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