Scythian princess from Ryżanówka

Objects placed in the rich Scythian grave of a woman have been in the collection of the Archaeological Museum in Kraków since 1887, examined in Ryżanówka in Ukraine. They originate from excavations carried out by Gotfryd Ossowski, the first curator of the Museum of Antiquities of the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences in Kraków.

The examination was preceded by chance discoveries.

The grave of the woman was located in an underground chamber led to by an underground walkway (dromos), beginning with a deep vertical shaft. In the chamber, on a bed of moss and leaves covered with a piece of fabric was the skeleton of a woman covered with gold ornaments (more than 440 appliques and jewels). Next to it were vessels (e.g. a bronze situla, a silver chalice with a gilded frieze presenting chasing animals) and other items.

In the 1990s, further examinations of the burial mound were carried out (Polish-Ukrainian expedition supervised by J. Chochorowski from the Institute of Archeology of the Jagiellonian University and S. Skory from the Institute of Archeology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine in Kiev). The results of the excavations of the woman’s grave were verified and a central burial was discovered.

The examinations of the burial mound in 1995-1998 and a whole range of analyses of natural samples taken from the mound and from inside the tomb as well as radiocarbon dating of the preserved bones and other organic items allow us to date the moment of building the grave and creating the mound to before the second half of the 3rd century BC. As demonstrated by stratigraphic and natural observations, the burial of the woman took place soon (several years at the very most) after the burial of the “prince”, who was buried in a magnificent tomb covered by a large mound.


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