Altai, the Scottish Highlands and the Mysteries of the Iron Age:
The Picts and the Pazyryk
The Picts were a confederation of tribes in what later became central and northern Scotland from Roman times to the 10th century. The Greek word Πικτοί (Latin Picti) first appears in a panegyric written by Eumenius in AD 297 and is taken to mean “painted or tattooed people” (Latin pingere “paint”). Primarily Pictish art is found on the many Pictish sysmbol stones that are located all over Pictland, from Inverness to Lanarkshire.
The Pazyryk The ancient Altai culture peaked during the Iron Age in the archaeological culture referred to as ‘Pazyryk’. The Pazyryk culture is famous for its long barrows called ‘kurgans’ and the exquisite objects excavated from them. It is also the name of the valley on the Ukok Plateau where the tattooed ‘Ice-Maiden’ and warriors were found. Equally as remarkable is the so-called ‘rock art’ of the Iron Age that can be found throughout the Altai. The Pictish and the Pazyryk culture are extremely attractive due to the sophistication of their esthetic potential. Both these cultures have an element of mystery in common which relates to the origins of the culture bearers and to the meaning of the symbols and images that occur in their creative expression. Having returned from the Altai I travel through the Scottish Highlands in search of the standing stones and symbol stones of the ancient past and wonder at their comparison with the creative expression of the Altai Iron Age.