The images you'll see as you scroll down to the current text are all part of the story telling in my novel, Realms of Gold:Ritual to Romance.

Bianca Caldwell, pen name, Bianca Fiore, is a writer for an art magazine. In each of her monthly stories she describes an object used in ancient ritual.

Sarmatian Zoomorphic Art: Pectoral

Pectoral is a symbol of power.  

This magnificent golden pectoral depicts scenes of torment with two movable extremities in the form of Rams heads with a long decorative neck.  In the center of the composition there is a scene showing two griffins tearing at a bull. It lies on its stomach with its forelegs outstretched and its hind legs tucked under it.

To the left there is a scene of two lions tearing at a ram. To the left there is a mythical animal with a cat-like body poised to jump to the left.

Found near the village of Kosika.

Sarmatian Zoomorphic Art: Vessel

This round Sarmatian vessel, with its upper edge turned slightly outwards, has a handle in the form of a young elk. The form of the vessel is identical to that of the hollow vessels typical of nomadic culture. The elk's body is well modelled; the eyes, and muscles of its back, shoulders and hind quarters are emphasized by inlays of turquoise, coral and glass. The vessel and handle were cast separately and then soldered together. 

 Zoomorphic handles were typical of Sarmatian culture. Animals were positioned with their heads looking towards the rim in order to protect the contents. The Sarmatians believed that animal images formed a protection against evil spirits. 

Khokhlach Burial Mound, near Novocherkassk
1st century AD
Gold, turquoise, coral

Four Star Review: "This book should be read and re-read and put in a special place on your shelf."

REALMS OF GOLD by Terry Stanfill

REALMS OF GOLD                               4 STARS
by Terry Stanfill



The book REALMS OF GOLD has a little of everything.  Suspense, mystery and romance all in one.  Lots of detail which makes the story more interesting. Giovanni Di Serlo and Bianca Caldwell are both at a wedding in Italy.and they realize they have so much in common. Bianca writes for an art magazine and Giovanni is an archaeologist working secretly in Puglia. He  thought her as just a plain woman.  She was quite taken with him.

The author takes you into the real character. Their hearts and minds of Giovanni and Bianca as they journey through Europe   REALMS OF GOLD follows a 2500 year old mystery.  This book is full of historical information and lots of surprises.  Slowly a romance develops. This journey through time takes the reader to Celtic Vix Burgundy, France and south of Italy. The author takes images from long ago and blends in romance.  It has so much to take in. If you find the ancient world fascinating, this is the book for you.  The book is wonderfully written and researched.  This book should be read and re-read and put in a special place on your shelf. The book should be read by everyone.  It's a good read and educational also.


In 1953 archaeologists near Châtillon-sur-Seine, France discovered a massive bronze krater in the grave of a Celtic woman. Although the Krater was discovered in Burgundy, it was cast in Southern Italy circa 510 B.C. and made its way to Vix, a village at the foot Mont Lassois, once Latisco, an important Celtic trading citadel. Bianca Evans Caldwell, a writer for a New York art magazine, came upon the Krater accidentally and becomes obsessed with the great vessel and with the princess-priestess buried with it. Since then, Bianca has returned to the museum in Châtillon-sur-Seine six times to admire the Krater of Vix.
It is July, 2007, and Bianca finds herself in Venice for a family wedding, where she meets Giovanni de Serlo, an Italian archaeologist. Neither Bianca nor Giovanni wanted to attend the wedding but they both felt a family obligation to be there and soon become friends. After the weekend Bianca returns to New York City, Giovanni to Puglia, where he is working on an excavation.

When Bianca enters her apartment she finds it has been ransacked, although nothing seems to have been stolen. She finds a strange symbol written on a scrap of paper in her kitchen, and learns that it might be a Mafia warning. After more frightening and puzzling occurrences Bianca decides she must leave New York. She flees to Italy to visit Giovanni, who had promised to drive her to Calabria to see the site of the no longer existing Sybaris, in ancient times a city notorious for its wealth and luxurious living. At Sybaris, Giovanni shows her his secret find in an old farmhouse, a discovery which startles Bianca.
Giovanni and Bianca learn that they might now be in danger if they remain, and decide that they will make the journey from Sybaris to Burgundy, following the ancient route of the Krater.

As the story unfolds Bianca begins to write about the Krater, how, why and with whom it made its journey from the south of Italy to be buried in the earth of Vix.
When they arrive in Châtillon-sur-Seine they learn of yet another remarkable recent discovery atop Mont Lassois. Bianca's intuitive conclusion of what the Krater meant to the ancient Celts, and its connection and significance to Arthurian legend bonds the two together in a romance that could just be forever.


The Animal Style of the Hellenistic period differs from the earlier decorative approach developed by Scythian artisans whose animal designs resemble heraldic representations. As Sarmatian tribes became the masters of the steppe, the artists began to focus on scenes of struggle rather than on individual animals, bringing into their creations the dynamism and the tension of a mortal combat between predators and their victims.

Vessels with animal-shaped handles were known to many ancient cultures from China to Persia. Appearing on the artifacts of the Sarmatian period, animal-shaped handles may be interpreted as a sign of the Iranian influence. Moreover, zoomorphic handles were typical of Sarmatian culture.

Treasures of the Sarmatians: Gold Flacon

Golden flacon  with "animal style" ornament, inlaid with ruby and paste that imitates turquoise. Belonging to a young Sarmatian queen

Late 1st-2nd Century

Review by Ia Uaro, Sydney, Australia

 Reviewer Ia Uaro: A former teenage author, petroleum seismologist, and translator, Ia now does manuscript assessment. She is the author of SYDNEY'S SONG, a real-life socio-fiction. Follow Here to find out more about Ia.

There are several layers of stories inside this story and intelligent readers with interest in historical mysteries and the intricacies of ancient arts would be intrigued by how the plot unfolds.

At Vix in Burgundy in 1953, Archaeologist René Joffroy unearthed a huge krater, a vessel used for the mixing of wine in ceremonial rituals, in a tomb from 600 BC, along with the remains of a woman of great importance.

In July 2007 archaeologist Giovanni Di Serlo attends a cousin’s wedding in Venice and meets Bianca Caldwell, an American art writer who depends on her visions for guidance as she writes about ancient objects and their use in ritual.

Realms of Gold Kirkus Review

Kirkus Reviews

REALMS OF GOLD (reviewed on September 15, 2012)
Stanfill’s (The Blood Remembers, 2001) novel follows an unlikely pair of lovers as they piece together an ancient puzzle that will shed light on an age-old mystery.

In 1953, an archaeological team working in Vix, a small town in the Burgundy region of France, found the 2,500-year-old tomb of a woman some claim to have been a Celtic princess. The burial site, surprisingly well preserved, housed both the woman’s body and a treasure of immeasurable value that included a perfectly intact krater (a ritual wine vessel) likely cast in Southern Italy. While the groundbreaking find revealed much, it left many questions unanswered: Who was this mysterious woman? Why was she entombed with such treasure? And what was the origin of the foreign urn? These questions—which still vex experts today—drive Stanfill’s scintillating tale of intellectual discovery and budding romance.

In contemporary Venice, Bianca Evans Caldwell—an American author—crosses paths with archaeologist Giovanni de Serlo at a wedding and immediately falls for the suave, confident Italian. But neither suspect that this chance meeting would send them both on a continent-spanning adventure that will help solve the mysteries of the Vix krater and the sleeping princess, all while delivering surprising new insights into the mythology of England and France. Stanfill’s narrative initially feels ornate, but it morphs into a lively, precise plot. The author pours her estimable learning into this, her fourth novel, and she’s equally comfortable writing about the nuances of ancient art, the links between myth and history, and the nooks and crannies of modern-day Italy. And though her book seems by turns a travel guide or an archaeology textbook, its details only add verisimilitude to a satisfyingly complex story of love, learning and intrigue in Europe.

An erudite thriller that recalls Brown’s Robert Langdon series—only smarter.

Realms of Gold has been awarded eLit's Bronze Medal in Romance

The fourth annual eLit Awards are a global awards program committed to illuminating and honoring the very best of English language digital publishing entertainment.
Cambridge, 1920

When a writer calls his work a Romance, it need hardly be observed that he wishes to claim a certain latitude, both as to its fashion and material, which he would not have felt himself entitled to assume had he professed to be writing a Novel.

The point of view in which this tale comes under the Romantic definition lies in the attempt to connect a bygone time with the very present that is flitting away from us. It is a legend prolonging itself, from an epoch now gray in the distance, down into our own broad daylight, and bringing along with it some of its legendary mist,

Nathaniel Hawthorne, Preface to the House of Seven Gables
Lenox, January 17 , 1851.

Treasures of the Sarmatians: Hinged Neck Ring in the Animal Motif

Sarmatian Golden Neck Circlet

Studded with turquoise, coral and glass from the Chochlatch kurgan near Novocherkask. Katalog Nr. 88 Â


© Staatliche Eremitage St. Petersburg Die Bildrechte an den Aufnahmen werden ausschließlich und einmalig zur Publikation im Zusammenhang mit der Berichterstattung für die Ausstellung „Das Gold der Steppe. Fürstenschätze jenseits des Alexanderreichs“ der Reiss-Engelhorn-Museen (26. November 2009 - 25. Mai 2010) kostenfrei für die Presse erteilt. 

Treasures of the Sarmatians: Jewelry belonging to a Young Sarmatian Queen

The unique set of the golden jewelry that was found in the kurgan tomb № 10 of the Kobiakov sepulture (AD 1-2) knows no equals. The precious torc that was found in the kurgan indicates that this tomb and jewelry in it belonged to the young Sarmatian queen.