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Scythian Queen from Tovsta Mogyla Kurgan: could she be the famous Queen Tirgatao?


Scholars date Tovsta Mogyla Kurgan to the first half of the 4th century B.C. She was given a very sumptious burial that included several servants. Apart from the magnificent headdress, she wore a beautiful torque on her neck, that was the sign of a very high rank in the Scythian society. And the most prominent Queen in the area of the time was the famous Scythian Queen Tirgatao, whose rule was between c.390-380 BC. It appears highly unlikely that at approximately the same time there could be two queens of such a caliber. She was such a powerful figure that even more than a half a millennium later, historian Polyaenus devoted whole paragraph to Tirgatao in his ‘Stratagems in War‘:”Tirgatao of Maeotis married Hecataeus, king of the Sindi, a people who live a little above the Bosphorus. Hecataeus was expelled from his kingdom, but was reinstated in his throne by Satyrus, tyrant of Bosphorus. Satyrus gave him his daughter in marriage, and urged him to kill his former wife. As Hecataeus passionately loved the Maeotian, he could not think of killing her, but confined her to a strong castle; however, she found a way of making her escape from there. Fearing lest she should excite the Maeotians to war, Hecataeus and Satyrus made a strict search for her, which she skilfully eluded, travelling through lonely and deserted ways, hiding herself in the woods in the day, and continuing her journey in the night. At last she reached the country of the Ixomatae, where her own family possessed the throne. Her father was dead, and she afterwards married his successor in the kingdom. Then she roused the Ixomatae to war, and engaged many warlike nations around the Maeotis to join the alliance. The confederates first invaded the country of Hecataeus, and afterwards ravaged the dominions of Satyrus. Harassed by a war, in which they found themselves inferior to the enemy, they sent an embassy to sue for peace, accompanied by Metrodorus the son of Satyrus, who was offered as a hostage. She granted them peace, on stipulated terms, which they bound themselves by oath to observe. But no sooner had they made the oath, than they planned schemes to break it. Satyrus prevailed on two of his friends, to revolt to her, and put themselves under her protection; so as the more easily to find an opportunity to assassinate her. On their revolt, Satyrus wrote a letter, to ask for them to be handed over; which she answered, by alleging that the law of nations justified her in protecting those, who had placed themselves under her protection. The two men, who had revolted, one day requested an audience of her. While one distracted her with a pretended matter of importance, the other levelled a blow at her with a drawn sword, which fell upon her girdle; and the guards immediately seized and imprisoned them. They were afterwards examined by torture, and confessed the whole plot; upon which, Tirgatao ordered the hostage to be executed, and laid waste the territories of Satyrus with fire and sword. Stung with remorse for the calamities he had brought upon himself and his country, Satyrus died in the midst of an unsuccessful war; leaving his son Gorgippus to succeed him in the throne. He renounced his father’s proceedings, and sued for peace, which she granted on payment of a tribute, and put and end to the war.”

Royal Scythia, Greece, Kyiv Rus” book tells the stories of two other famous Scythian queens.

The world-famous Goldent Pectoral was found in the same Tovsta Mogyla Kurgan, but in the dromos of the male burial.




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