Wednesday, December 5, 2012

BMAC Culture of Bactria (2300 BC)


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"All known cities in the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex contained monumental structures with heavy defensive walls, each located aproximately 30 to 50 kilometers (roughly a day's march) from each other. The temples in these ancient cities contain fire altars, sacrificial areas and architectural features described in passages of the Rig-Veda and the Avesta — the holy texts of the Indo-Aryans and the Zoroastrians. The city in northern Afghanistan named Baktra (present-day Balkh) is recorded in the Avesta as the birthplace of Zarathustra Spitama (Zoroaster), the founder of Zoroastianism, one of the first great world religions that is continually practiced to this day. The reasons that the cities of the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex were suddenly abandoned are not known. Possibly the widespread calamity known as the Bronze Age Collapse (which imploded the palace economies of the Aegean and Anatolia during the late 2nd millennium) impacted trade with settlements in Central Asia. Or possibly a severe drought or other envionmental catastrophe forced the BMAC settlers in Central Asia to flee."....

"The Rigveda describes a mobile, semi-nomadic culture, with horse-drawn chariots, oxen-drawn wagons, and metal (bronze) weapons. The geography described......Rivers flow north to south, the mountains are relatively remote but still visible and reachable (Soma is a plant found in the high mountains, and it has to be purchased from tribal people). Nevertheless, the hymns were certainly composed over a long period, with the oldest (not preserved) elements possibly reaching back to times close to the split of Proto-Indo-Iranian (around 2000 BC) ....Thus there was some debate over whether the boasts of the destruction of stone forts by the Vedic Aryans and particularly by Indra refer to clashes between the early Indo-Aryans with the BMAC in what is now northern Afghanistan and southern Turkmenistan (separated from the upper Indus by the Hindu Kush mountain range, and some 400 km distant)......

45,000 BC....A Stone Age archaeological site on the banks of the river Don in southern Russia has been identified by scientists as the earliest known settlement of modern humans in Europe. The discovery has provided support for the idea that the first migration of modern humans out of sub-Saharan Africa occurred less than 50,000 years ago. Scientists have dated the artefacts from the Russian site to 45,000BC, which would make the inhabitants the earliest known ancestors of Europeans today....The evidence consists of stone, bone and ivory tools discovered under a layer of ancient volcanic ash on the Don River in Russia some 250 miles south of Moscow, said John Hoffecker, a fellow of CU-Boulder's Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research. Thought to contain the earliest evidence of modern humans in Europe, the site also has yielded perforated shell ornaments and a carved piece of mammoth ivory that appears to be the head of a small human figurine, which may represent the earliest piece of figurative art in the world, he said.

The excavation took place at Kostenki, a group of more than 20 sites along the Don River that have been under study for many decades. Kostenki previously has yielded anatomically modern human bones and artifacts dating between 30,000 and 40,000 years old, including the oldest firmly dated bone and ivory needles with eyelets that indicate the early inhabitants were tailoring animal furs to help them survive the harsh climate.

The Yaz culture is an early Iron Age culture of Bactria and Margiana (ca. 1500-1100 BC). It has been regarded as a likely archaeological reflection of early East Iranian culture as described in the Avesta. So far, no burials related to the culture have been found, and this was taken as evidence of the Zoroastrian practice of exposure or so-called sky burial.

The Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex (or BMAC, also known as the Oxus civilization) is the modern archaeological designation for a Bronze Age civilisation of Central Asia, dated to ca. 2300–1700 BCE, located in present day northern Afghanistan, eastern Turkmenistan, southern Uzbekistan and western Tajikistan, centered on the upper Amu Darya (Oxus River). Its sites were discovered and named by the Soviet archaeologist Viktor Sarianidi (1976). Bactria was the Greek name for the area of Bactra (modern Balkh), in what is now northern Afghanistan, and Margiana was the Greek name for the Persian satrapy of Margu, the capital of which was Merv, in modern-day southeastern Turkmenistan.

Sarianidi's excavations from the late 1970s onward revealed numerous monumental structures in many sites, fortified by impressive walls and gates. Reports on the BMAC were mostly confined to Soviet journals, until the last years of the Soviet Union, so the findings were largely unknown to the West until Sarianidi's work began to be translated in the 1990s.

Gonur Depe......The capital of one of the great but little known ancient civilizations, called Margush, Margiana, or the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex. .....The golden age of Margush lasted from the sixteenth to the thirteenth centuries BC. The advanced city of Gonur was the capital of this great agricultural civilization. Its ancient citizens built it on a great natural plateau. In the center of the city a fortified palace enclosed by a great wall was built. The unique architecture of this construction has no corollary and represents a singular phenomenon in the history of ancient Oriental architecture. Not far from this palace a fortified temple was located, and its walls and floors were coated with white gypsum.

In the Early Bronze Age the culture of the Kopet Dag oases and Altyn-Depe developed a proto-urban society. This corresponds to level IV at Namazga-Depe. Altyn-Depe was a major centre even then. Pottery was wheel-turned. Grapes were grown. The height of this urban development was reached in the Middle Bronze Age c. 2300 BCE, corresponding to level V at Namazga-Depe. It is this Bronze Age culture which has been given the BMAC name.

Mallory points out that the BMAC fortified settlements such as Gonur and Togolok resemble the Qala (Kala), the type of fort known in this region in the historical period. They may be circular or rectangular and have up to three encircling wall. Within the forts are residential quarters, workshops and temples.

The discovery of a single tiny stone seal (known as the "Anau seal") with geometric markings from the BMAC site at Anau in Turkmenistan in 2000 led some to claim that the Bactria-Margiana complex had also developed writing, and thus may indeed be considered a literate civilization. It bears five markings strikingly similar to Chinese "small seal" characters, but such characters date from the Qin reforms of roughly 100 AD, while the Anau seal is dated by context to 2,300 BCE. It is therefore an unexplained anomaly.

"An Overview of the Andronovo Culture:....Late Bronze Age Indo-Iranians in Central Asia.....In the 1914 near the village Andronovo in the Enisei river valley, southern Siberia, several burial grounds containing skeletons in crouched position and pottery with very rich decoration were discovered. Archaeologists gave the name Andronovo to the distinctive Bronze Age culture dated mostly to the 2nd millennium BC. The Andronovo Culture covers a vast portion of western Asia. Its western flank constitutes a contact zone with the Srubnaya (Timber Grave Culture) in the Volga-Ural interfluvial; extending eastward to the Minusinsk depression. Sites are found as far south as the foothills of the Koppet Dag, the Pamir and Tian Shan mountains, while the northern boundary is rather vague reaching the taiga zone. Moreover, there is a chain of Andronovo type cultures in the forest-steppe zone of Western Siberia......The Andronovo Culture is of great importance in understanding the early history of the Indo-Iranian speaking peoples. The linguistic interpretation of this culture is under discussion as well as its origin and chronology.?.....


John Hopkins.....Northern New Mexico….December 2012


1 comment:

  1. BMAC fascinating, Originally Mesopotamian. Trade routes etc. became multicultural. Rig Vedic Aryans moved in than proceeded on wards into India. Pushed the Nishada (indigenous Black Tribes "Copper Hoards") and earlier Aryan immigrants further East.
    Epic tale Nala king of Nishada and Damayanti evidence alliance against Incoming Rig Vedic Aryans.