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Since 1887 the collection of the Archaeological Museum of Kraków has boasted the equipment of a rich Scythian female tomb situated under the mound of a kurgan, examined in Ryzhanovka near Zvenyhorodka in Ukraine by Gotfryd Ossowski, the first curator of the Museum of National Antiquities (from which today’s Archaeological Museum has originated) at the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences in Kraków.

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Since 1887 the collection of the Archaeological Museum of Kraków has boasted the equipment of a rich Scythian female tomb situated under the mound of a kurgan, examined in Ryzhanovka near Zvenyhorodka in Ukraine by Gotfryd Ossowski, the first curator of the Museum of National Antiquities (from which today’s Archaeological Museum has originated) at the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences in Kraków. The female skeleton discovered in this tomb was strewn with gold decorations being appliqués of a parade costume as well as with jewels (over 440 items). Next to it, there were various vessels and objects lying on the ground, including the silver mug presented on our website.
In 1999 the Archaeological Museum of Kraków prepared the exhibition, Tutanhamon ukraińskich stepów [Tutankhamun of the Ukrainian Grasslands], dedicated to the results of the research on this kurgan conducted in 1995–1998 by the expedition organised by the Institute of Archaeology at the Jagiellonian University, the Institute of Archaeology at NAN Ukraine [National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine] and the Archaeological Museum of Kraków. The exhibition presented the reconstructed tomb of the princess and her parade costume in which she had been buried. The parade costume of the deceased princess consisted of a dress, assumedly of a red colour, a red headgear (a kalpak?) and a pink veil. On all of the parts of this costume, numerous gold appliqués of various shapes — a total number of 440 items and a total weight of about 400 g — were sewn. Particularly rich with gold ornaments was the headgear with a diadem, bands with an anthropomorphic and geometric ornament as well as a band with an artistic pendant. Also, the dress of the deceased was richly decorated, covered with gold triangles and rosettes on the breasts and sleeves.
The jewellery of the princess consisted of two gold earrings in the form of gryphons with raised wings standing on bases, a gold necklace to which two blown pendants were attached, a gold bracelet of a wire rolled in four scrolls, a silver four-scrolled bracelet, nine gold rings (three made Panticapaeum coins, two signet rings with drawings, three smooth rings and one with an eye made of a piece of limestone).
Gold ornaments were assumedly made in Greek colonies on the Black Sea. The presented reconstruction of the costume of the deceased was created by Lubow Klotchko from the Museum of Historical Valuables in Kiev (with modifications by Jan Chochorowski and Siergiej Skory; reconstruction performed by Marzena Sawicz).

Elaborated by the Archaeological Museum in Kraków, © all rights reserved

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What connects the valuables of the Scythian princess with a Tibetan medical kit?

What connects the Tibetan medical kit – one of the oldest items in the collection of the Ethnographic Museum – to the costume of the Scynthian princess – one of the most valuable exhibits of the Archaeological Museum of Kraków? 

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What connects the Tibetan medical kit – one of the oldest items in the collection of the Ethnographic Museum – to the costume of the Scynthian princess – one of the most valuable exhibits of the Archaeological Museum of Kraków?

Both of them have found their way to the museum collection (directly or indirectly) thanks to Julian Talko-Hryncewicz.
Having finished his medical studies, Talko-Hryncewicz was sent for an apprenticeship to the small town of Zvenyhorodka. His interests and curiosity of the world made him embark on a journey around Europe in 1876. The tour aroused his interest in anthropology and archaeology. Having returned, he directed his attention to kurgans situated nearby Zvenyhorodka. Hoping to make some crucial discoveries, he excavated a fragment of the site, yet the ground was not generous to him. When abandoning the site, he could not have assumed that he was only a step away from a grand discovery. After some time the ground slid down, revealing its secrets – the entrance to one of burial chambers. Professional archaeologists were called on the spot and, supervised by Gotfryd Ossowski, exposed the remains of a Scythian princess together with the valuables, all of which are displayed in the Archaeological Museum of Kraków today as well as in the collection of Małopolska's Virtual Museums. Further on, Julian Talko-Hrynckiewicz went to Siberia, where he not only treated its inhabitants, but also documented their life, conducting ethnographic research and inspiring local communities to open a museum and a library. He also correctly recognised the cause of the plague epidemic decimating the population of the capital of Mongolia (40 years later Albert Camus wrote his famous work, The Plague). Having returned to Kraków, he took over the Chair of Anthropology at the Jagiellonian University. He also became the co-initiator of establishing the Ethnographic Museum in Kraków (in 1911). The collection gathered over the years initiated the museum collection. One of the objects is the Tibetan medical kit, received by the doctor from the Polish exile, Witold Świętopełek Mierski.

Elaborated by Anna Berestecka (Editorial team of Małopolska's Virtual Museums),
Licencja Creative Commons

 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

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Costume of a Scythian princess from Ryzhanovka

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