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Scythia, Bucranium, Cast Lead, c. 7th- 4th Cent BC, Rare!

Cast Lead; 42mm/9.7gm (all mm = top of skull to muzzle only)

Con/ Missing one garland, otherwise, about As Cast; beautiful and eye-pleasing oxidized lead patina. Grape vine motif at the top of the skull, grape garlands hanging from horns.

Seller's Note/ Such votive pieces were mass produced in long molds. Molten lead was poured into channeled molds, allowed to dry and then removed, with very little care as to the final condition. Note the long channel sprue at the top of this skull have been clipped. But why such carelessness? They were not created to be kept and the condition was not important.

According to A. Minchev, these objects may have been offered to Dionysos by local citizens as votive offerings at different cult places, ritual pits, domestic and maybe public sanctuaries. Some of the bucrania have been discovered along with miniature double axes like in Olbia. In that context Russian scholars relate these artifacts with the cult of Zeus-Zagreus or with the syncretic chthonic cult of Dionysos-Zagreus, especially concerning the interpretation of the bucrania and axes, recorded in a funeral context as offerings to the god of the dying and resurrecting nature and the patron of the deceased.

Ground-found in Ukraine, near the ancient Scythian city of Gota (Olbia) on the fringes of ancient Greece.

A Bucranium was a decorative motif representing an ox killed in religious sacrifice. The motif originated in a ceremony wherein an ox’s head was hung from the wooden beams supporting the temple roof; this scene was later represented, in stone, on the frieze, or stone lintels, above the columns in Doric temples. This motif has been found on painted pottery in Iraq dating from 5000 bc. It was later imported into Bronze Age Crete as part of the bull and double-ax cult, where the bull’s head was decorated with a garland of grapes.

To the Scythians, 'Gota' or 'place of the cows' was so called because of the ox-worshipping cult particular of the area. According to the Greek historian Herodotus, the powerful Scythian king named Skil (Skyul or Skul) reigned from a large palace here (Herodotus IV: 79).

Oxen and other animals were a favorite motif in the local histories and a number of lead votive artifacts have been found in the area. The skulls of seven bucrania (bulls) were discovered in the cistern of the town, and lead offerings depicting the bull skull adorned with wreaths and other decorations, such as ours, and lead double-axes as well, have been found in the region.

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