September 25

British Museum lures Game of Thrones fans to exhibition on littleknown Scythians

first_imgWarriors from the Scythians exhibition Daenerys Targaryen, who joined the Dothraki Where the Scythians roamed A ‘flat-pack’ table Game of Thrones' Khal Drogo Gold plaque of a mounted Scythian. Black Sea region, c. 400–350 BC Most artefacts were frozen in time in tombs, with no surviving written records. The exhibition Scythians: warriors of ancient Siberia opens at the British Museum on September 14.The institution is not the first to see the potential in comparing real history with Game of Thrones. Daenerys Targaryen, who joined the Dothraki The skin of a tattooed warrior from the Scythian tribes Warriors from the Scythians exhibition Both real and fictional tribes fought on horseback and are “excellent archers”, the Museum blog points out, and both used curved bows to maximise the range of their arrows.“Part of their fearsome reputation comes from the perception among outsiders that the Dothraki and the Scythians are barbarians – [the character] Daenerys’ brother, who comes to a rather unpleasant end, regularly criticises Dothraki culture as being ‘savage’,” it states.“Similarly the ancient Greeks perceived the Scythians as both terrifying and barbarous, while at the same time holding some respect for their brutal ways.” Published on the Museum’s website, it is designed to lure a new generation of visitors into its galleries for the exhibition, making it accessible via the vision of George R R Martin and capitalising on the new series of the fantasy show beginning this week.“If you’re excited about another fantastical series of Game of Thrones, you’re not alone,” the blog says.“But George R R Martin’s vivid world has many real-life parallels. Here, take a closer look at the inspiration behind the bloodthirsty, horse-riding nomadic warriors, the Dothraki…” The Dothraki and Scythians each chose lightweight clothes instead of armour and wore trousers, unlike other civilisations and tribes BC.While Scythians grew their hair long and cut it only for the death of a king, Dothraki chop theirs on screen to signify defeat.Both were nomads, living in tents and owning only the things they could pack. One Museum curator has previously described a Scythian table as a “proto-Ikea flatpack”. A 'flat-pack' table Historians have previously make the link between the battle between the north and south on Game of Thrones with the Wars of the Roses, the show’s Wall with Hadrian’s Wall, and the gruesome Red Wedding, which has striking similarities to the massacres of Glencoe and the Black Dinner of Scottish history.Speaking last year, Dr Carolyne Larrington, who teaches Medieval English literature at the University of Oxford, said using a modern reimagining of medieval war would be “really valuable” in “awakening” an interest in the real thing. Gold plaque of a mounted Scythian. Black Sea region, c. 400–350 BCCredit:State Hermitage Museum Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Where the Scythians roamed The skin of a tattooed warrior from the Scythian tribes Every schoolboy in the land knows the basic history of the Greek, Roman and Egyptian civilisations.Mention the Scythians, a fierce, tattooed, horse-riding, nomadic tribe stretching over hundreds of years of history from the Black Sea to the borders of China, and there may be blank looks all round.But the British Museum hopes to rectify that omission with a blockbuster new exhibition, and an online guide helpfully explaining it through the medium of Game of Thrones.The British Museum blog has published an explainer on the Scythians comparing them directly with the Dothraki, the fictional riders of the Game of Thrones novels and big-budget television series.The Dothraki, known to fans of the series for main characters including Khal Drogo and Daenerys, are “so far, so Scythian”, it says. Game of Thrones’ Khal Drogo “I think the idea of using popular fantasy, using medievalism as many scholars call this modern reimagining of the world, could be really valuable in awakening children’s interest in this kind of thing,” she said. The roots of the Dothraki, the Museum says, has been less well-explored, noting some parallels with the Mongols and the Huns.But, it claims, there are “several similarities” with the Scythians too.Describing them as “fearsome, nomadic warriors who loved their horses”, it said: “The terrifying Dothraki take their lead from the equally terrifying Scythians.” Offering the caveat that there is “no evidence of dragons and ice zombies” in the archaeological digs around the Scythian empire, it claimed that Martin and his HBO showrunners have drawn directly on real history for the Game of Thrones worlds. The British Museum exhibition will be the to explore the Scythians at a major UK  institutions in 40 years, relying on loans of up to 250 objects from overseas museums including the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg.last_img read more