Altai State University, Lenina 61, Barnaul, 656049, Russia
In 2008, a long iron sword dating to the Scythian Age was found near Klyuchi village, northern Altai. It has a kidneyshaped guard, and a pommel sculptured as two griffi n-heads and decorated with gold. The grip is braided with gold wire. The archaic designs of the guard and the grip, as well as the zoomorphic pommel, suggest that the sword is no later than the 6th–early 5th centuries BC. The li felike way of rendering griffi n-heads evidently originated somewhat earlier in the east of the Scythian world than in the west, where imitations of them with claw-shaped pommels circulated from the 5th–4th centuries BC onward. A large series of Scythian Age swords and daggers, found accidentally, comes from the forest-steppe Altai. Many o f them have broken or bent blades, implying that they had ritual functions. Three more long iron swords dating to the early Scythian Age were found in the south of the Ob-Irtysh watershed. Because prestigious weapons of that type are more numerous in those regions than elsewhere, they probably originated in an area that included the northern Altai as its easternmost part.
Keywords: Swords, Scythian Age, pommel, guard, griffi n.