In 1903 mine
technician D.G.Shultz, keeping to no methodical requirements, excavated
four burial mounds at the Kelermesskaya stanitsa. The excavations were
quite barbarian but the finds - unique and valuable by their artistic
function objects. Schultz is said to re-melt and sell some golden things.
The rest were sent to the Imperial archaeological commission and now
they are in the Special storeroom of the Hermitage. A cast silver mirror
(diameter - 17 cm), one side once polished, the other side covered with
an electrum (a golden-silver alloy) sheet and decorated with engraved
pictures, is one of these things. There are two pins in the center of the
mirror - the remains of a handle. In general such mirrors (golden or
silver) were widely spread in the Ancient World. Their main function
was sacral (remember the speaking mirror from the Pushkin's fairy-
tale), not reflective.
The mirror is divided into seven equal segments with
different mythological characters made in the
style in each of them. The specialists see elements of Assyrian, Iranian
and other artistic styles. Imported things (Greek, Egyptian, Iranian etc.)
are often met in the Scythian burials, so it is no surprise but one
In the segment with two standing sphinxes a predator (a panther)
is depicted at their feet. On one side, the predator completely "falls out"
from the stylistic manner, on the other side, it fully concurs with the
norms of the Scythian - Siberian animal style. This interesting fact is not
explained as yet. Recently D.A. Machinsky tried to give a new
interpretation to the meaning of the depictions on the Kerelmess mirror
as a universal cosmogram with the World Mountain (a rosette) in the
middle and the main characters of the Indo-Iranian myth in the
segments: the goddess "the mistress of animals", sphinxes - mouthpieces
of the equinox, sunrise and sunset. Two bearded men, covered with hairs,
fighting with a griffin, are аримаспы , "one-eyed' people, who lived,
according to some sources somewhere between the Ural and
the Altai. One can judge of the variety of readings, for example, by the
article in one of the French archaeological magazines (in two numbers),
arguing that the shaggy characters on the Kerelmess mirror are the
fabulous at the Caucasus "almasty" : relict Homonodae
("snow men" or relict Neanderthals).
About 100 years only some, most prominent things from the
Kerelmess burials, had been published. Recently, thanks to
L.K.Galanina's efforts, the collection was published completely.