Width: 22.900 cm
Britain, Europe and Prehistory
Room 41: Europe AD 300-1100
Khazar (Saltovo-Mayatsk culture), 9th-10th
From near Bielowodsk, Perm region, Russia
This two-piece bridle-bit is made of iron, inlaid with silver volutes and scrollwork. The rectangular slots of the long, S-shaped cheek-pieces are for attachment to the bridle itself.
It is said to have been found with a pair of iron stirrups inlaid with brass and a silver-inlaid axe-hammer, comprising the equipment of a mounted warrior of the semi-nomadic Khazars. This Turkic people from Central Asia depended on their horses, which made them highly mobile. In the mid-seventh century they established a Khaganate in the steppes from south Russia to the Caucasus Mountains and, for a while, also controlled the Ukraine. Their riding equipment was more advanced than that of westerrn Europe at the time. Not all remained nomads and during the eighth century many took up farming and stock-rearing, founding their capital at Itil at the mouth of the River Volga. They adopted Judaism in 861, but fade from history early in the eleventh century.
S. Marzinzik, Masterpieces: Early medieval a (London, British Museum Press, 2013)
D.M. Dunlop, The history of the Jewish Khaz, Princeton Oriental studies, vol. 16 (Princeton New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 1954)