Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Discover a legend on your Starbucks coffee cup!

Have you ever wondered about the origins of the mesmerising woman on the Starbucks logo? Meet Mixoparthenos, the mythical Scythian god mother. Female above waist and snake below, divided into two coiled serpents, Mixoparthenos was rumoured to have lived in a forest close to the once great city of Olbia in modern-day southern Ukraine. According to the legend re-told by the ancient Greek historian Herodotus in the 5th century BC, Mixoparthenos had lured a wandering horseman known as Heracles into a cave and fallen pregnant to Scythes, the first king of the Scythians.

The Scythians were a tribe of nomadic horse bowmen who once inhabited the grasslands of the Pontic steppe around the north shores of the Black Sea. Higher-ranking Scythian warriors were often covered in detailed tattoos and indulged in smoking marijuana. The Greeks described the Scythians as “barbaric” warriors. Herodotus thought otherwise and saw them not as the barbarians of the Black Sea, but skilled hardworking communities who lived a nomadic way of life.

The Scythians grew wealthy from rearing cattle and wheat that ultimately fed the Greek Empire, and they would commission artisans more than 2,500 years ago in the colonial Greek cities around the Black Sea to make jewellery of this mythical snake goddess and engravings on swords. Over the centuries countless precious artefacts displaying the image of Mixoparthenos have been unearthed from inside ancient kurgan burial mounds across the steppes, revealing this lasting symbol of one of the first ancient multi-ethnic cultures on Earth.

Jason and the Argonauts, Noah's Ark and a tribe of fierce female warriors known as the Amazons all originate from the Black Sea. Gripped by curiosity, Simon and Chris fire up their twenty year old Volvo and embark on a quest to drive full circle around this ancient body of water at the birthplace of civilisation.

An Adventure Through the Caucasus

by Simon Raven, Chris Raven

Order your copy online from Amazon and all major book retailers. ISBN 9780954884284.

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