This rich collection spans the period from the 11th and 12th centuries
BC to the medieval era, including isolated objects from the 16th to 19th
The earliest objects date to the Bronze and Early Iron Ages and come
from the territory of present-day Northern Ossetia, Armenia, Georgia
and Azerbaijan. Of particular interest is a gold seal from the village of
Archadzor and the Khojalinskaya bead, bearing the name of the
Assyrian King Adadnirari II, from Nagorny Karabakh.
There is a splendid collection of antiquities from one of the oldest
Oriental states, Urartu, also known as the Van Kingdom (9th-6th
centuries BC, Armenia); it includes tools, utensils and weapons.
The earliest objects were found in the area north of Lake Van,
including a famous bronze figurine of a winged deity from
Toprak-Kala (8th-7th century BC). Excavations at the fortress of
Teishebaini or Karmir-blur (Red Hill), 7th century BC, provided a
great number of valuable items including all kinds of pottery,
bronze vessels which remain their soft sheen to this day, and a
large bronze shield, quiver and helmet bearing representations of
chariots and horsemen and inscriptions from the time of King
Sarduri II. This settlement was an important administrative and
economic centre in the north of the Urartu Kingdom.
A number of accidental finds in various parts of the Caucasus, relating
to the last centuries BC and first centuries AD, reveal an obvious
connection between these regions and Oriental and Western cultures.
The most interesting items are a remarkable silver dish (2nd century BC)
depicting a Nereid on a sea horse surrounded by Tritons playing in the
waves, a unique goblet of ruby-coloured glass with a chased silver rim,
high quality silver vessels of Roman origin (1st-2nd centuries BC), and a
famous Hellenistic cup consisting of two walls of transparent glass
between which is a gold-foil design (3rd century BC). There is a unique
collection of well preserved textiles (3rd-7th centuries) found in burial
grounds in the Northern Caucasus; they are both of local production
and imported from Iran, Byzantium and China. The most valuable
objects are a textile showing Bahram Gur (burial ground at the site of
Moshchevaya Balka, Kuban Region), and a fragment of a pile carpet
found in a burial ground near the town of Kislovodsk.
Bronze vessels (6th-7th centuries), for the most part found in Daghestan
mountain auls (villages), constitute an interesting group of artifacts;
these include dishes, jugs, aquamaniles, ewers and censers.
The collection of medieval Armenian artifacts consists of over 1,500
items from the 9th to 17th centuries: pottery, objects of gold, silver and
bronze, fragments of architectural decoration, examples of painting and
miniatures. Of particular interest are a 12th-century silver cup and a true
masterpiece created by Armenian silversmiths, a folding reliquary icon
consisting of three panels (1293), made in one of the Kilikian
monasteries (the Kilikian Armenian Kingdom existed from the 12th
century to the 14th and was located on the north-eastern shores of the
The most notable artifacts of Georgian medieval art, over 200 in total,
are superb gold and silver articles made using the cloisonne technique
and decorated with painted enamel. The pride of the collection are a
painted medallion showing St George and two gold plaques.
We must also mention the collection of stone reliefs and bronze
cauldrons from medieval Daghestan, mainly discovered in the aul of
Kubachi. The 16th to 19th centuries are represented by carpets from
various Caucasian centers, by ceramics and items of weaponry.
If you enjoyed this collection, you might want to also visit the other collections at the State Hermitage Museum.
Triptych: Folding Reliquary Icon
8th century BC