Armenian knot on Pazyryk rug, Reading a book “the Scythians” by Barry Cunliffe

Reading a book “the Scythians” by Barry Cunliffe. It seems these nomads who settled into the northern Black Sea (Pontic steppe) area after 700 BC and played part in the downfall of the Urartian kingdom (Kingdom of Van, Ararat kingdom), were not that barbaric after all. Their art was amazing.

Unfortunately, they didn’t have any written records, and the only references to them were from sources such as Herodotus and from recent excavations of their burial mounds, called kurgans.

Nomadic tribes related to the Scythians who lived in the Altai region near Mongolia, sometime around 500 BC, buried a rug in the grave of an elite ruler, which froze in time for 2500 years until rediscovered in one of those mounds.

The Pazyryk rug is the oldest rug ever discovered, and it has Urartian motifs, including horses and eight-pointed floral star patterns.

The one most striking attribute, however, is the Armenian knot which is … uniquely Armenian. In another mound 5000 miles to the West, in the Melgunov kurgan, near the Black Sea, an intricately ornamented gold sword was discovered with what seems to be typical Urartian symbols.

The winged god Haldi and the tree of eternity. Several theories abound: 1. the Scythians traded with Urartu; 2. The Scythians looted from the Urartians during their raids 3. Urartian rulers or princes gifted these items to Scythian tribal chieftains.

Whatever theory prevails, which we may never know, one thing is for certain. Urartian artifacts of immense beauty and advanced craftsmanship reached the four corners of the Asian steppes and adorned the elites of tribes which remain shrouded in history but turn out to be not as barbaric as they were branded by the ancients.

As a trivial piece of information, a few hundred years later, a remote tribe related to the Scythians, a branch of the Parni tribe, became our neighbors and lent us a whole series of kings – the Parthians and their relatives – the Arśakouni dynasty of the Armenians.

By Joseph Sarkissian

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