Sakhnivka's Treasure

Autumn, 1900. The treasure of the princely age was discovered at the site of the hillfort of Divych-Hora (Virgin Mountain)

In the autumn of 1900, a striking treasure of the princely era was accidentally discovered by an unknown seeker at the site of the hillfort of Divyitsia or Divych-Hora near the village of Sakhnivka. 

Temporal rings (1100 - 1300 CE) by UnknownNational Museum of the History of Ukraine

Kyiv's type earrings

The seeker sold it to merchants, from them the Kyiv collector and patron Bogdan Khanenko bought the greater part of the treasure, while one chain made up of quadrifolium plates and several earrings with three beads were got into the collection of M.P. Botkin in St. Petersburg.

The treasure contained ornaments and coins. The coin part: eight hexagonal coin bars "hryvnia", a gold bar (presumably part of a hryvnia), and two Byzantine coins. The gold coin of Manuel I Komnenos, gives us dating the treasure was no earlier than 1143 AD.  The items were found in two pots. According to the discoverer, one pot contained three gold neck ornament "hryvnias", a pair of silver female temple pendants "kolty", and a pair of silver bracelets, the other pot held other items.  

Necklace (1000 - 1200 CE) by UnknownNational Museum of the History of Ukraine


The decorations included head, neck, and breast jewelry: a gold princely diadem, a gold headband, gold female temple pendants "kolty", "riasna", Kyiv-style earrings, temple rings,  gold neck ornaments "hryvnia", a richly decorated gold necklace with crenelated pendants and a gold round medallion with stone inlays depicting the Savior, John the Baptist, the Mother of God, an archangel and several types of beads.

Ornaments with the cloisonné enamel are especially attractive. Cloisonné enamel is a sophisticated jewelry-making technique that gained popularity under the influence of Eastern jewelry art in Byzantium from the 6th century. This technology found its way to the countries of the Byzantine cultural circle.

Sakhnivka treasure. Pair of kolts. Temploral pendants (1100 - 1300 CE) by UnknownNational Museum of the History of Ukraine

Temple pendant "kolt"

These strips formed cells of different shapes and sizes. The cells were filled with enamel of a specific color to the top of the partitions and fired.

To create enamel a contour of the future image was drawn on a thin metal plate, then metal strips were soldered to form partitions

Sakhnivka treasure. The central fragment of the diadem (1100 - 1300 CE) by UnknownNational Museum of the History of Ukraine

Then the enamel was polished so that it and the top of the partitions were in the same plane, and finally, it was polished to the extent that it became impossible to distinguish the wetted part from the polished one.

Sakhnivka treasure. Diadem (1100 - 1300 CE) by UnknownNational Museum of the History of Ukraine

The vast majority of surviving cloisonné enamels decorate items of religious significance. Cloisonné enamel on secular items is much rare, so the ancient Rus enamel ornaments is particularly intriguing and valuable.

Credits: Story

Research and text: Natalia Maliuk
Project Сurator: Nataliia Panchenko
Technical implementation: Oleg Mitiukhin, Oksana Mitiukhina, Liudmila Klymuk
Text editor:  Nataliia Panchenko
Translation: Dmytro Mitiukhin
Selection of exhibits: Natalia Maliuk
Photographer: Dmytro Klochko

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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