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Oriental JewelleryThe Golden HordeThe CaucasusCentral AsiaThailandJapanChinaMongolia and TibetIndiaIslamic Art of the Countries of the Near EastSassanian IranByzantiumAncient EgyptThe Middle East

This rich collection spans the period from the 11th and 12th centuries BC to the medieval era, including isolated objects from the 16th to 19th centuries.

The earliest objects date to the Bronze and Early Iron Ages and come from the territory of present-day Northern Ossetia, Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. Of particular interest is a gold seal from the village of Archadzor and the Khojalinskaya bead, bearing the name of the Assyrian King Adadnirari II, from Nagorny Karabakh.

There is a splendid collection of antiquities from one of the oldest Oriental states, Urartu, also known as the Van Kingdom (9th-6th centuries BC, Armenia); it includes tools, utensils and weapons. The earliest objects were found in the area north of Lake Van, including a famous bronze figurine of a winged deity from Toprak-Kala (8th-7th century BC). Excavations at the fortress of Teishebaini or Karmir-blur (Red Hill), 7th century BC, provided a great number of valuable items including all kinds of pottery, bronze vessels which remain their soft sheen to this day, and a large bronze shield, quiver and helmet bearing representations of chariots and horsemen and inscriptions from the time of King Sarduri II. This settlement was an important administrative and economic centre in the north of the Urartu Kingdom.

A number of accidental finds in various parts of the Caucasus, relating to the last centuries BC and first centuries AD, reveal an obvious connection between these regions and Oriental and Western cultures. The most interesting items are a remarkable silver dish (2nd century BC) depicting a Nereid on a sea horse surrounded by Tritons playing in the waves, a unique goblet of ruby-coloured glass with a chased silver rim, high quality silver vessels of Roman origin (1st-2nd centuries BC), and a famous Hellenistic cup consisting of two walls of transparent glass between which is a gold-foil design (3rd century BC). There is a unique collection of well preserved textiles (3rd-7th centuries) found in burial grounds in the Northern Caucasus; they are both of local production and imported from Iran, Byzantium and China. The most valuable objects are a textile showing Bahram Gur (burial ground at the site of Moshchevaya Balka, Kuban Region), and a fragment of a pile carpet found in a burial ground near the town of Kislovodsk.

Bronze vessels (6th-7th centuries), for the most part found in Daghestan mountain auls (villages), constitute an interesting group of artifacts; these include dishes, jugs, aquamaniles, ewers and censers.

The collection of medieval Armenian artifacts consists of over 1,500 items from the 9th to 17th centuries: pottery, objects of gold, silver and bronze, fragments of architectural decoration, examples of painting and miniatures. Of particular interest are a 12th-century silver cup and a true masterpiece created by Armenian silversmiths, a folding reliquary icon consisting of three panels (1293), made in one of the Kilikian monasteries (the Kilikian Armenian Kingdom existed from the 12th century to the 14th and was located on the north-eastern shores of the Mediterranean).

The most notable artifacts of Georgian medieval art, over 200 in total, are superb gold and silver articles made using the cloisonne technique and decorated with painted enamel. The pride of the collection are a painted medallion showing St George and two gold plaques.

We must also mention the collection of stone reliefs and bronze cauldrons from medieval Daghestan, mainly discovered in the aul of Kubachi. The 16th to 19th centuries are represented by carpets from various Caucasian centers, by ceramics and items of weaponry.

If you enjoyed this collection, you might want to also visit the other collections at the State Hermitage Museum.

Oriental Coins

9th century
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Triptych: Folding Reliquary Icon
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Figure:Throne Decoration
8th century BC
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