Brief Introduction Edit
The Fish of Vettersfelde was roughly produced in 500 BCE by the Scythians. Around 130 years ago, a man stumbled across a large grouping of different pieces of gold figurines that resembled animals and ornaments(Komentarzy 2015. 1). The fish was named after the city, Witaszkowo, which is where the fish was found in Poland. Now, the city and fish of Witaszkowo have been renamed to Vettersfelde. It currently is on display in the Altes Museum in Berlin, Germany. The ‘Fish of Vettersfelde’ is an example of how cultural ideas from the Greeks spread to other cultures like the Scythians. The purpose of the gold fish was to be placed on a shield during battle and also to be given as a gift to the local Scythian chiefs. The flat characteristic of the fish gives way to thought that it was used as a dish that holds prophylactic quantities since it has been associated with various gods in the east (Hale 2012. 86)
Technical Evaluation Edit
The fish of Vettersfelde is made out of electrum which is an alloy of gold and silver. Scythian art typically is made out of gold, silver, wood or iron and is combined with human or animal carvings. The workmanship and engraving on the gold fish resembles that of a very technologically advanced culture. The body and the tail of the fish are embossed with different animals and a rams head. These engravings were most likely done with a sharp tool. The choice of making this object out of gold and silver and having gold and silver available to them shows that the maker was of high social class like a prince or a chief. During the draining of his field in the area of Vettersfelde, Poland, a farmer came across The Fish of Vettersfelde in October 5, 1882. It still remains a mystery how this historical creation got to the small town of Vettersfelde (von Bothmer 1973, 153).
Local Historical Context Edit
Historians are still not sure what civilization created the Fish of Vettersfelde. The Greek workmanship offers the idea that the Greek could have given the fish to the Scythians or the Scythian were simply just imitating Greek workmanship (von Bothmer 1973, 153). The first to describe the life style of the Scythians was a Greek man named Herodotus who lived in the fifth century BC which gave way to the Greek influence in Scythian life (Lendering 2014, 1). There is no significance of Vettersfelde, Poland and but an explanation of how the Fish of Vettersfelde got there or why it was buried there but it could be because the Scythians were horse-riding nomadic pastoralist so they were very prone to military expansions by others. The use of an expensive metal like gold shows that the Fish of Vettersfelde was not just a common object in the Scythian culture. It is said that the fish was most likely given to a chief because it was found in a very ceremonial spot that was lined with stones and other Greek styled vases (Leafloor 2015. 1). It is researchers belief that the gifts were also diplomatic offerings: “the Scythians not only destroyed and looted, but also tried to secure control of long trade routes by establishing good relations with the local population,” writes Past Horizons (Leafloor 2015. 1.)
World-Historical Significance Edit
The Fish of Vettersfelde is an excellent example of how the Greek influence in art transmits into other cultures. The fish has been compared to another Scythian artifact called the Kul Oba deer. Both of these artifacts were used to make larger shields and sculptures more beautiful (Minns 2011. 73). The uniqueness of this object is attributed to the fact that researchers used the Fish of Vettersfelde as an indicator as to how far north the Scythian tribe penetrated into Europe. The writings of Herodotus and Strabo and the elaborate tombs of high officals are how we know about their personal habits and art. The Scythians had comparatively little use for precious metals and a plentiful supply from the Ural and the Western Siberian mountains. Tombs are usually accompanied with vast quantities of horses, all fully dressed and equipped and enormous amounts of gold ornaments which signified an important person (Reitz 1918. 135). The Treasure of Vettersfelde included the Fish of Vettersfelde and enormous amounts of gold which leads to the fact that it was most likely a burial site of an important Scythian.
Komentarzy, Brak. "Archaeologists Found Where the Famous Scythian Treasure from Witaszkowo Had Been Hidden." Mojasocjologia. April 7, 2015. Accessed April 19, 2015. http://www.mojasocjologia.pl/en/archaeologists-found-where-the-famous-scythian-treasure-from-witaszkowo-had-been-hidden/#respond.
Hale, Edward. "The Treasure of the Oxus." In The Collected Works Of Sir Humphry Davy ...: Discourses Delivered Before The Royal Society. Elements Of Agricultural Chemistry, Pt. I, 86. Nabu Press, 2012.
Leafloor, Liz. "Long Hidden Scythian Treasure Site Located at Ceremonial Spring in Poland." Ancient Orgins. April 9, 2015. Accessed April 19, 2015. http://www.ancient-origins.net/news-history-archaeology/long-hidden-scythian-treasure-site-located-ceremonial-spring-poland-002881.
Minns, Ellis. "The Scythians, Their Customs and Racial Affinities." In Scythians and Greeks: A Survey of Ancient History and Archaeology on the North Coast of the Euxine from the Danube to the Caucasus, 73. Reissue ed. Cambridge University Press, 2011.
Von Bothmer, Dietrich. "The Vettersfelde Find." From the Lands of the Scythians: Ancient Treasures from the Museums of the U.S.S.R. 3000 B.C.-100 B.C. (1973 - 1974) 32, no. 5 (1973): 153-55. Accessed April 18, 2015. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3269237.
Reitz, S. C. Bosch. "A Chinese Tomb Find." Jstor 13, no. 6 (1918): 135-37. Accessed April 20, 2015. http://www.jstor.org.proxy-remote.galib.uga.edu/stable/pdf/3253439.pdf?acceptTC=true.