Around the World in 80 Models: Omsk

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Hop on board as we continue our journey Around the World in 80 Models! We began our itinerary at Sketchfab headquarters in New York and are working our way through Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, South America, and North America. To catch up on past destinations, check out the rest of the Around the World in 80 Models series.

This week we head to Tomsk, Russia, where the team at LIRA “Artefact” sheds some light on an intricate bronze dagger discovered in a Bronze Age burial near Omsk, in Siberia.

Omsk, Russia: Dagger with Carved Finial

The Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Research in Archaeology “Artefact” of the National Research Tomsk State University is engaged in technical support of archaeological research, as well as several leading independent researchers. In the area of our interests are 3D scanning technology (scanners, photogrammetry, LIDAR) and visualization. Also we are adapting new technologies for archaeological research.

This model was made in the course of a project to create a 3D museum entitled “The Ancient Art of Siberia.”

This model was created with an Artec Spider scanner. Texture was recorded and created with the standard software of Artec Spider scanner – Artec Studio. Other models of this project have reprojected textures from simple model created by photogrammetry technology (for example). But in this case, we did not make the model with high quality texture by photogrammetry technology because the dagger has a complicated form of carved finial with small elements and holes.

Dagger with carved finial from Rostovka burial site.

Place of storage: Florinskiy Museum of Siberian Archaeology and Ethnography, Tomsk State University, Tomsk.
Material: Bronze.
Place of discovery: Rostovka burial site (Western Siberia, left bank of the river Ob, 15 km from Omsk).
Context of discovery: The dagger was discovered during the excavation of Rostovka Seima-Turbino burial site, performed by a joint Tomsk State University/Omsk Pedagogical University expedition under the supervision of Vladimir Matyushchenko in 1966.
Dating: Bronze Age. 16th–15th cc. BC.

The dagger was discovered in tumulus No. 2, where a 10-centimeter coaly layer covered bone remains of a 9- or 10-year-old boy burnt in a special “crematorium”. In consistence with the necropolis funeral rites, the dagger was stuck into the floor of the bone chamber and covered with crane fragments left after cremation. The tomb doesn’t look too rich, given the number and composition of funerary gifts, but such highly prestigious object as a knife with carved finial indicates that the boy belonged to the upper class of Seima-Tubino society. In the social structure of the latter, the main roles were played by nomadic warriors and bronze casters, who possessed the most sophisticated technologies of the time. In the mid-2nd millennium BC, they made a huge forced march from Xinjiang in the east to the lower reach of Dniester in the west, leaving only burial sites and memorial altars behind them. The hallmark of such altars were glorious bronze weapons: celts, hefty spearheads, daggers, etc.
An exclusive group of Seima-Turbino bronze includes “ceremonial” (“prestigious”, “lord status”) weapon—daggers with carved handles. The knife from Rostovka stands out even in this category, being known as the most exquisite and mysterious item. It consists of two separately cast parts: a single-edged blade and a handle crowned with an absolutely unique composition of a horse and a skier. The statuary is made by lost-wax casting and “soldered” to the blade with molten metal. A man with high Mongoloid cheekbones is standing on short skis, tied to a horse with a rein. The horse has a massive head, short legs and an erect mane, resembling those of extinct tarpans or still existing Przewalski’s horses.
The composition is interpreted based on two alternative hypotheses. One of them admits skiers really moved around by being pulled behind galloping horses back in the Bronze Age. However, the static figure of the horse doesn’t fit in this conception. Moreover, the skier seems to be rather holding back the horse he has just caught than following it, as judged by the specific angle of his body and the position of the skis. More preference is given to the version claiming the scene on the handle of the unique knife has a mythic or ritual nature. For instance, it could be a motive of a cultural hero catching a horse. The plot dates back to the era of horse domestication and has been variously preserved in myths of many peoples of the world.
E.A. Vasiliev

1. Chernykh Y., Kuzminykh S. (1989) Drevnyaya metallurgiya Severnoy Yevrazii [Ancient Metallurgy of Northern Eurasia], Moscow: Nauka.
2. Golovnev A. (1998) Bronzovy lyzhnik iz Rostovki [The Bronze Skier from Rostovka]. Integratsiya arkheologicheskikh i etnograficheskikh issledovaniy: Materialy mezhdunarodnogo nauchnogo seminara, posvyashchennogo 155-letiyu so dnya rozhdeniya D.N. Anuchina [Integration of Archaeological and Ethnographic Studies: Proceedings of the International Research Workshop Celebrating the 155th Anniversary of the Birth of Dmitri Anuchin], Omsk, Part I, pp. 50-53.
3. Matyushchenko V., Sinitsyna G. (1988) Mogil’nik u derevni Rostovka blizi Omska [The Burial Site near the Village of Rostovka in Omsk Suburbs], Tomsk: Tomsk State University.

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To see more of LIRA “Artefact”‘s models here on Sketchfab, check out their profile!

About the author

Abby & Néstor

Abby and Néstor are Sketchfab Masters.
Abby Crawford, Ph.D. is trained in and passionate about Roman Archaeology and works as a freelance artifact illustrator and 3D scanner in California.
Néstor F. Marqués is a virtual Heritage & cultural diffusion researcher, and an enthusiast of ancient Rome’s culture.

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