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Sarmatians in a painted tomb of the Crimean Bosporus
Crypt 1872

One of the most famous monuments of the Northern Black Sea coast, with preserved ancient paintings, is a crypt on the northern slope of Mount Mithridates in Kerch (ancient Panticapaeum, capital of the Bosporan Kingdom) discovered in 1872.

Renowned art critic and art historian VV Stasov wrote that the vault combines two styles: incrustation (earlier) and flower (later). Most likely, the vault should be dated to the beginning of the 2nd century BC.

On the right pier south wall is a battle scene, in which a large number of soldiers are involved. The main character is undoubtedly Bosporan, depicted on horseback, dressed in armour and helmet and in his hands he holds a long spear. The horseman is galloping right, his cloak fluttering behind him. Behind him are two foot soldiers armed with spears and oval shields. They also have helmets and armour.

On the left pier rear (south) wall is a battle scene, which depicts a duel between a horseman armed with a long spear and dressed in armour and helmet and an enemy on foot. The horseman, of course, would be a noble Bosporan. His opponent is a bearded warrior without helmet or armour, in his right hand he holds a short sword, and in the left a diamond shaped shield. The composition leaves no doubt that the winner of the match will certainly be the horseman.

On the right side wall of the main niche is represented by a detachment of five foot soldiers. On the right is a standard-bearer in armour. He holds a spear with both hands, which is attached to a banner. The shape of the banner is characteristic of the Roman auxiliary troops (called vexillum). To the left of the standard-bearer is a soldier in helmet and armour. In his left hand are an oval shield and two short spears. The three other warriors of this composition are shown smaller than the two already mentioned, they do not have helmets or armour. Nevertheless, each of them is armed with a pair of spears and an oval shield.


Based on these murals:
88 & 89. SARMATIAN CAVALRY in Armies and Enemies of Ancient Rome by Phil Barker and Ian Heath
90. SARMATIAN STANDARD BEARER in Armies and Enemies of Ancient Rome by Phil Barker and Ian Heath
91. SARMATIAN INFANTRYMAN in Armies and Enemies of Ancient Rome by Phil Barker and Ian Heath

Other Illustrations of Scythian, Cimmerian, Sarmatian & Bosphoran Costume and Soldiers from the Black Sea Region

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