Peter the Great put together Russia's earliest archaeological collection, largely composed of objects taken from ancient burial mounds in the early 18th century in Western Siberia and the Altai area by tomb-robbers. Rich items of gold and silver, the majority in the Scythian-Siberian animal style, are the pride of the collection, particularly the famed double belt buckles with intricate scenes of animals fighting fabulous creatures.
In 1715 Prince M.P.Gagarin brought 10 objects from Tobolsk province in Siberia to Peter I, who immediately appreciated the importance of the finds of works by ancient goldsmiths. He issued edicts to the governors of Ruszsian provinces that they purchase all ancient and curious objects at the Treasury's expense and send them to his new capital, St Petersburg. Those first 10 objects are today still the finest part of the collection. A second group of articles from Siberia was delivered in 1716 and these pieces constitute the majority in the present collection, over 250 items in all.
6th-5th century BC
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