PECTORAL FROM TOVSTA MOHYLA AS A REMINISCENCE OF THE SHIELD OF ACHILLES: SEARCHING THE ORIGIN OF IDEA


Keywords: Scythians, Toreutics, Pectoral from Tovsta Mohyla, Iliad, Shield of Achilles, Pelte.

Abstract

Pectorals in form of breast decoration of a moon-like shape were not peculiar for the Scythian culture. Many ideas on manufacturing the pectoral, which was found by B. Mozolevsky in 1971 during the Tovsta Mohyla excavations, were borrowed by the craftsman from the other culture environment. By the opinion of many researchers, the influence of different traditions of the ancient Greek art is easy-to-see in the pectoral’s composition. Besides, it is inheriting in frieze forming similarelly to sculptural compositions fronton of the Parthenon, borrowing motives of floral ornaments, coin plots etc.

But the creative work of the author of pectoral could have been influenced not only by decorative art but the literary monument too. To the latter the Homer’s «Iliad» can be named, especially its 18th playsong, which describes Hephaestus manufacturing the Shield of Achilles. It is interesting that the Pectoral from Tovsta Mohyla was compared with the Shield of Achilles by many researchers (I. V. Yatsenko, L. A. Lelekov and D. S. Rayevsky, V. Y. Mukhaylin). As at its core both Shield of Achilles and the pectoral are pieces of art of high artistic merit, which represent world cosmologic pictures with the help of the opposite action areas made with high relief figures. The breast collars, which are widely known by the findings of Thrace and Macedonia, could lead to generation of ideas that influenced the pectoral’s invention. Such breast collars actually were small hanging shields, which protected in battle the warrior’s weakest spot. By their form and functions they are close to peltes — light skin shields of a moon-like shape. Such peltes were not only well known by toreuts who worked on the Scythians’ orders, but also were recreated by them in battle-pieces on the comb from Soloha and on the calathus from Vylyka Blysnytsya.

So it can be considered that the pectoral’s conception was based on the different but connected ideas, borrowed by the craftsman from the military sphere. As a result of the composed transformation of the association chain the Shield of Achilles — Peltes shield — breast collars (or vise versa) and synthesis of several ideas, there was formed a general vision of the pectoral with the corresponding shape, composition structure and separate ornamental patterns.

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2021-11-01
How to Cite
Babenko, L. I. (2021). PECTORAL FROM TOVSTA MOHYLA AS A REMINISCENCE OF THE SHIELD OF ACHILLES: SEARCHING THE ORIGIN OF IDEA. Archaeology and Early History of Ukraine, 40(3), 31-46. https://doi.org/10.37445/adiu.2021.03.01