The Horn Bow Cover Kit from Bilsk Hill-Fort

Keywords: Forest-Steppe Scythia, Bilsk hill-fort, Western fortification, horn bow cover kit, Scythian animal style, first half of VI c. BC.

Abstract

In the article a horn item, designed in Scythian animal style, accidentally found at the territory of the Bilsk hill-fort (VIII—IV c. BC) in the Dnieper forest-steppe Left Bank Ukraine, is published for the first time.

The item belongs to the early Scythian time and is an example of the military equipment decoration details of the European Scythia population. According to some morphological and stylistic features, the randomly found bow cover kit is close to finds from the steppe mounds Temir-Gora and Semenovka, however, the materials of the Western fortification of Bilsk hill-fort give it the most accurate analogies. Here, during the excavation of diferent Zolnik (ash mounds) in 1996 and 2008, two artifacts were found, interpreted by us as horn bow covers. Objects have similar outlines, proportions, modeling, and metric data. Both products are designed as a volumetric head of a bird with a horn. The bow cover, found in ash mound 28 (1996), is decorated with images of animals curled into a ring: panthers and hares. The figure of the latter imitates a horn, giving the bow cover an image of a horned bird. The manufacture of the horn bow cover from ash mound 13 (2008) was not completed, its details were not worked out; however, the general features of the image of a bird with a horn are quite clearly conveyed. These items were found in residential (dugout) and household (pit) complexes.

The random find of the horn bow cover kit found at Bilsk hill-fort does not have a clear detection context, however, according to a number of signs, it is undoubtedly close to the two previous finds and allows us to raise the question of the local tradition of such objects manufacturing. An expressive collection of carved bone items, formed over the period of many years of excavation of the settlement, as well as traces of bone-carving production recorded at it, finds of tools for working with bone material allow us to speak with confidence about the manufacturing of many types of bone and horn products by local craftsmen. The horn bow covers found at Bilsk settlement can be dated by the first half of VI c. BC, although in the steppes of the Northern Black Sea region such objects are known in the monuments of an earlier time — the second half of VII c. BC.

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2019-12-26
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