A round-sided electrum goblet, the lower part is
decorated with typical Greek ornament and the upper part is covered with images arranged in a circle
and representing a certain consecutive narration. There are seven figures of male - Scythians on the
goblet, six of them are arranged in three pairs and one of them, stringing a bow, is placed separately.
His special position makes him the central figure. He has another bow, fastened on his belt. As far as
the Scythian armament usually consisted of one bow, the question is what is the function of the
second one? The picture of the Kul-Oba vessel was given in the majority of schooltexts on ancient
history, published in the 50-60s with the inscription " scenes from the Scythian life ". The scene of " a
tooth extraction " always attracted special attention. An attemt was even made to explain this scene
from the scientific point of view. A lower jaw of a noble Scythian, aged 30-35, buried in the Kul-Oba
burial, is preserved. Results of the inflammation due to the injury of two teeth and a partially
nonerupted premolar are clearly seen. According to Professor D.G.Rokhlin, a well-known
roentgenologist and pathologist, those teeth must hurt badly. True, D.G.Rokhlin mentioned that the
pain was in the right side of the jaw and on the picture the left side " is treated ". But it was explained
by the artists's fantasy and the historians of Scythia considered this story to be possible and even tried
to find some biographical episodes of the buried man's life in the whole scene.
In 1970 Professor D.S.Raevsky, a well-known Moscow scythologist, the author of some
books on the Scythian mythology, suggested quite a new interpretation of the subject on the Kul-Oba
vessel. He had thoroughly studied different variants of the Scythian genealogical legend, preserved
fragmentary in Greek and Latin texts. The following key subject of a legend of the Scythians origin
was formed on the basis of those variants. There is always the first ancestor , usually, a tsar, in the
mythology of every people. Targitai, born in wedlock of the Heaven s and the Earth ( a typical
mythologeme for all the Indoeuropian peoples) was the first Scythian ancestor. He had three sons : (a
popular subject too, drifted in the fairy-tales) : Kolaksai, Lipoksai and Arpoksai.
Not going into details,
described in D.S.Raevsky's books and articles, let's turn to the most important.
When he had felt his
old age and thinking about a successor, Targitai laid down a condition before his sons : the one who
strings his bow and puts on his tsar chain-mail belt, would ascend the throne.
The older son began to
string the bow but it broke away and stroke his jaw ; the unruly
bow injuried the second son's shin and
only the youngest son could fulfil the task and became a tsar.