MEDICAL INSTRUMENTS FROM THE SCYTHIAN KURGANS OF KHERSON REGION (a New Look at Famous Artefacts)


  • O. Ye. Fialko Institute of Archaeology, the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine
  • M. A. Homchyk National Museum of Ukrainian History
  • Yu. P. But National Museum of Ukrainian History
Keywords: European Scythia, Amazons, medical instruments, knives, spring forceps, metal bowl.

Abstract

In 1973, the Kherson Expedition of the Institute of Archaeology of Ukraine under the leadership of A. I. Terenozhkin discovered a group of kurgans near the village of Lvove in the Kherson region. Five Scythian graves were investigated in the mound 11. Two of them belonged to the Amazons and have not been robbed.

Some of the items from these kurgans are stored in the National Museum of Ukrainian History. After the restoration, they in fact have got a second life and a new attribution. The most interesting are things from burial 2: a pair of iron spring forceps, an iron knife with a bone faceted handle, and a bronze bowl. According to the Doctor of Veterinary O. P. Melnyk, these items are close to modern medical instruments. The bronze bowl with thin sides, a flat bottom and a corolla with a rigid ledge could serve for fast heating of water and sterilization of tools. Iron forceps could be used to take tools out of boiling water. The shape of the knife blade and its technological features are similar to modern hoof knives designed to care for the hooves of animals. A similar bowl was found in burial No. 4, while another bowl and a bronze knife were in the main burial 7 of the same kurgan.

Moreover, the collection of the Museum contains a series of iron knives from kurgans near Pervomaivka village in Kherson region. Their design features, according to Professor O. P. Melnyk, allow us to see in them medical instruments. One of them by the shape of its blade resembles a modern scalpel.

Judging by pieces of art, healing and zootechnics have reached a high level among the Scythians. Significant examples in this respect are the metal bowl from the kurgan Kul-Oba and the amphora from the kurgan Chortomlyk. The scene of the castration of a horse is depicted on an amphora. As reported by Strabo, the Scythians had a common practice to castrate horses, and the Amazons have been taking care of their horses on their own. Consequently, it is quite possibly that the Amazons carried out certain veterinary operations. In addition to castration, an equally important operation in horse breeding is the cleansing of hooves.

The considered artefacts served as tools that could be used both in medicine, and in veterinary medicine. Thereby we can make a conclusion that the Scythian Amazons did not concede to men in medical practice as well.

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Published
2018-09-22
How to Cite
FialkoO. Y., HomchykM. A., & ButY. P. (2018). MEDICAL INSTRUMENTS FROM THE SCYTHIAN KURGANS OF KHERSON REGION (a New Look at Famous Artefacts). Archaeology and Early History of Ukraine, 28(3), 109-121. https://doi.org/10.37445/adiu.2018.03.10