Sunday, December 1, 2013

Ancient Bactria: Seals & Amulets (2500- 1500 BC)


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Myths of Ancient Bactria and Margiana on its Seals and Amulets (1998). Victor Sarianidi

"During the last twenty years a hitherto unknown culture in Central Asia has been uncovered by archaeologists. This civilization of the Bronze Age is called Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC) and is situated, as the name indicates, in Bactria on both sides of the Amu Darya and in Margiana, the Merv-Oasis. It can roughly be dated to the first quarter of the second millennium BC and has been considered to be a fifth center of Old World civilization (with Mesopotamia, Egypt, India and China). The BMAC had strong connections not only to the Neolithic and Chalcolithic sites of the piedmont region of Southwest Turkmenistan(3), but also with Mesopotamia and Elam, Syria, Anatolia, Eastern and Northern Iran, Baluchistan, the Indus-Valley and even China."….

"Myths is an extremely important and valuable publication. A total of 1,802 seals are illustrated, describing (1) seal type: cylindrical, flat, three-sided prisms, compartmented; (2) material: stone, copper, silver, shell, faience, gypsum, clay; (3) size; description of scene; and (4) provenience. Of the 1,802 seals less than 250 have an archaeological provenience; the largest provenienced corpus is from Gonur where almost a hundred were recovered. Most of the seals are attributed to their places of sale: the Kabul Bazaar, the Anahita Gallery; or museums: the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art; or private collectors: Ron Garner, Jonathan Rosen. There are less than two dozen sealings and ten sealed bullae (some baked) listed as coming from Gonur and/or Togolok. "…..….….The Indo-Aryan Controversy: Evidence and Inference in Indian History….ed. Edwin Bryant, Laurie Patton (2005) (Page 163)

Interesting motif from a BMAC seal which can be followed through the centuries is the endless knot (Knot of Eternity) ... (2500- 1500 BC)

Amulets and seals made of soft stone and pierced lengthwise often have a swastika engraved on one side... (2500- 1500 BC)

Scorpion seal, Oxus Civilization; Turkmenistan; Gonor Depe site; Victor Sarianidi; Archaeology; BMAC complex... (2500- 1500 BC)

The Anau seal, however, seems firmly dated at 2,300 BC

Viktor Sarianidi (born September 23, 1929 in Tashkent) is a well-known Soviet archaeologist of Pontic Greek descent. He discovered the remains of a Bronze Age culture in the Karakum Desert in 1976. The culture came to be known as the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex.

"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."….


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


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