The Ancients

Ancient Kazakhstan: Gold of the Great Steppe

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Episode notes

Gold and horses! 2,500 years ago, in the area of the Great Steppe that is now Eastern Kazakhstan, an extraordinary ancient Scythian culture reigned supreme. They were called the Saka, renowned for their skill as horse archers and for their elaborate elite burials.   Ancient Persian and Greek sources labelled them a barbaric, nomadic people – a scourge on the ‘civilised’ world. But new archaeological discoveries from East Kazakhstan are revealing a very different picture. A picture that highlights how the Saka were a highly-sophisticated ancient society. A culture that boasted complex settlements, expert craftsmen, extensive trade routes and more, alongside their equine mastery and their staggering wealth.   Now, for a limited time only, you can see some of these newly-discovered artefacts at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. The exhibition is called ‘Gold of the Great Steppe’. Running from 28th September 2021 to 30th January 2022, it is the first exhibition about this ancient culture ever to be shown in the UK.   To find out more about the exhibition and what these newly-discovered artefacts are revealing about the Saka, Tristan headed up to Cambridge to interview Dr Rebecca Roberts, associated curator of ‘Gold of the Great Steppe’.  

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