Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Ancient Civilization of Margiana, Margush and Gonur Depe (1600 BC)


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Gonur Depe.....The capital of one of the great but little known ancient civilizations, called Margush, Margiana, or the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex.....38°12'49"N 62°2'16"E

"The golden age of Margush lasted from the sixteenth to the thirteenth centuries BC. The Gonur, capital of this great agricultural civilization built it on a natural elevation, was a palace fortified by a great wall. The unique architecture represents a phenomenon in ancient Oriental architecture. Near the palace was a fortified temple with white gypsum-coated walls and floors. There were several rooms where khums, great jars more than one meter in height, stood along the walls. The khums held the cult beverage khoma-saoma, made from poppy seeds or mandrake roots. Presently, nearly 300 large and small settlements and 30 temples are found in Margush....

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"Margush....Greeks changed the name to Margiana. Archaeological discoveries from north Afghanistan and Southern Turkmenistan indicate a closeness between Margiana and Baktria. Margiana stretched more than 3000 sq. Km and was dotted with 78 oases and more than 150 compact settlements. Margush as one the five oldest centers of the world's civilization. In eastern Kara-kum, archeologists unearthed castles and temples that compared in size with buildings in Assyria and Babylon. Remnants of the poppy and hemp were found, and was the ritual drink "Khaorna", and the worship of Zoroastrism. Gonur-depe, was the walled fortress that served as the capital of Margiana.....Ancient Margush or Margiana and medieval Merv are the same country through different eras. Scientists presume that Zoroastrianism, the first worldwide religion, has connections with the Margush. Archeologists found four fire temples there.....

"Margush was prosperous ancient kingdom in the region of Mari. Using the material of the latest archeological dig it can say the kingdom subsisted 5 thousand years ago. The people, lived there, were jacks-of-all-trades, they engaged in agriculture. The also had their written language. Thus historian proved the subsistence of this centre of an ancient civilization, equally with India, Egypt, Mesopotamia and China. The first agricultural settlements appeared in the delta of Murgab in VII thousands B.C. The fertile silt, bringing from the mountain, plenty of water and temperate hot climate created here the favorable conditions for growing of grain-crops. .....Among the sands of the West Karakum the archeologists discovered the ruins of monumental strongholds and temples, which can complete with the constructions of Assyria and Babylon in dimensions. In 1992 the archeological digs uncover a huge necropolis Gonur-Depe. In the burial place the plentiful goods of utensils, mirrors, cosmetic vessels, silver knick-knackery, alabaster and ceramic vases and multitude other goods, which age is III thousand B.C. were discovered, which is evidence once more of wide dealerships spreading of ancient civilizations with other Centralasian regions."......

"The Merv Oasis was an important centre for human settlement long before Achaemenian times. A remarkable Bronze Age civilization existed here, known variously as Margush, meaning 'lowland', or by the Greek name of Margiana. It has been gradually uncovered since the early 1970s by Professor Viktor Sarianidi, who heads the Margiana Archaeological Expedition. The Bronze Age sites are to be found at or beyond the northern edge of the present-day oasis, in land which is now desert. Climatic change and progressive desertification caused the abandonment of the area, with the result that the ruins of the Bronze Age settlements are well preserved beneath the desert soils. The Margiana sites seem to have had close ties with those at Bactria, in present-day northern Afghanistan. Sarianidi argues that the Bactria- Margiana complex was a major centre of ancient civilisation......The Gonur site is fascinating. The single largest excavation is of what Sarianidi describes as a palace complex, covering some 10ha and built at the end of the 3rd millennium BC. A vast network of walls have been excavated, like an earthen maze. Sarianidi believes that the palace itself was at the centre of the site, surrounded by administrative buildings, and accessed by a deliberately narrow entrance only 80cm wide. The largest hall in the palace complex, whose mud walls have been recently reconstructed as part of a conservation effort, is known as the throne hall. A stone sceptre was found in one of the two niches here.......Thus on the east side of the complex Sarianidi has identified a fire temple; on the west side a 'temple of sacrifice'. South of the complex, a basin some 100m long and 70m wide is suggested as a possible temple of water. Close to this, excavations in 2004 revealed a room roughly 10m square, containing such treasures as a bronze chariot, which Sarianidi thinks might have been a royal tomb. On the north side of the palace complex, a large open area near which a number of ovens have been excavated is described as the square of communal eating......


John Hopkins.....Northern New Mexico….February 2013


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