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The Arimaspi Fighting Griffins Calathos

(headdress)

Second half of the 4th century BC

Greek work

Gold, enamel

The calathos is part of the sumptuous headdress of a priestess serving the goddess of fertility, Demeter. It was found during excavations of the Bolshaya Bliznitsa burial mound on the Taman peninsula. The headdress was executed in the tradition of Classical Greek art, probably by a Bosporan master. The calathos is made up of thirty sheet gold plates joint together; its lower edge is decorated with a meander and rosettes encrusted with blue enamel, its upper rim with a stamped band of egg-and-dart ornament. The calathos's surface is completely covered with relief representing young barbarians (Arimaspi) fighting griffins, which recalls the myth of the griffins guarding gold, frequently illustrated in the art of the Bosporan kingdom. Each of the figures was separately chased in high relief and attached to the calathos by means of pins.

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