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Home > Auctions > 6th September 2022 > Scythian Scale Armour Coat

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LOT 0339

GBP (£) 6,000 - 8,000
EUR (€) 7,170 - 9,560
USD ($) 7,310 - 9,740

Bid History: 1   |   Current bid: £6,000 (+bp*)

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Bid History: 1   |   Current bid: £6,000

The front of a scale armour coat composed of over five hundred overlapping bronze scales, each mounted onto a custom-made stand for purposes of display; the scales show to have formed different series, some having holes only in the upper part, some with three holes in the upper part and two holes to the left, and some showing three upper holes and one central hole. 31 in. (9.6 kg total, 79 cm high including stand).

Acquired 1971-1972.
From the collection of the vendor's father.
Property of a London, UK, collector.
Accompanied by an academic report by military specialist Dr Raffaele D'Amato.
This lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by AIAD certificate no.11389-192359.

Cf. similar scales from Egypt, dated circa 590 B.C., in the Metropolitan Museum, discovered in the palace of Apries, accession no.09.183.7a–v; Chernenko, E.V., The Scythians 700-300 BC, Hong Kong, 1998, pp.7ff., pl.D & E; Лихачёва О.С., ‘Elements of Scythian tradition in the complex of armament of the Altai forest-steppes population, in the 6th-3rd centuries B.C.’, in Russian Academy of science, The war and the military in the Scythian-Sarmatian world, Proceedings of International Scientific Conference in tribute to the memory of A.I. Melyukova (Kagal’nik, 26-29 April 2014), in Russian, pp.119-126 and pp.162-171, pl.3, p.126, fig.2, p.165.

The favourite armour of the Scythian noblemen was a protection composed of scales, usually protecting the torso, sometimes the entire body (kataphraktoi). The Scythians found the most efficient method of arranging the overlapping ‘fish-scales’ as a corselet made of a number of bronze and iron plates, able to protect against sword and spear thrusts. The scales were fixed to an organic backing in such a way that the edges were overlapping in a similar way to rooftiles creating a complete protection for the wearer.

Our scales correspond well to bronze scales found in May 1961 in an accidentally destroyed burial in a barrow, near the village of Nadezhda Sovetsky district. They were discovered together with iron scales, a Greek Corinthian helmet, fragments of an amphora, five arrowheads and fragments of an iron sword. Most of these bronze scales were oblong in shape, with a sub-rectangular upper end and a rounded lower end, but slightly bigger than our scales.