Saturday, December 19, 2015

Bactrian Funerary Finding

Ancient Totem Amulet Charm from Bactria



Cicadas (Locusts) were found in the mouths of some burials in China, just over the mountain from Bactria.  Contact me with questions or for invoice through the private message form at the top right of this page.

Four Thousand Year Old Bactria Amulet Hand Carved Jade Totem

The ancient Bactrians lived on a trade route that dated from before 3000 B.C. and led from the Western shores of Asia to Northeastern China. The route had been active with trading activity long before the Bactrians settled there around 2500 B.C. However, the Bactrians added a lot of products and a great deal of exchange of cultural objects to the marketplaces of that enormous area.  


This particular amulet may have come from just over the Pamir mountains via the route that led from Bactria to Kashgar in what is now Northwestern China across the Taklamakan Desert to the Qijia culture settled on the upper reaches of the Yellow River. The jade colored stone cicada amulet fits the Qijia culture's use of the amulet and the stone is the color of Qijia jade pieces from China that I have seen in publications.

The cicada or locust insect has a life cycle that includes over a decade long period underground. Then when they rise from the underground stage, they fly over the land in loud and lively swarms eating all the vegetation in sight. It is this resurrection from under the earth that made the cicada the symbol of the resurrection into a lively existence once again. For this reason, the Neolithic cultures in Northeastern China placed an image carved much like the one in the photos above into the mouth of any deceased, in hope of the body's resurrection.

This is a fantastic addition to any collection. It is pierced and can be worn as a jewelry amulet. It measures 1 in x 0.25 in (2.5 cm x 0.7 cm)

Price: $250 U.S.  Contact me with questions or for invoice through the private message form at the top right of this page. 






More Info

International Buyers are welcome to my California based shop. Please browse, ask questions, discuss items, shipping, or guarantees. Please use the Contact Seller link, not the comment box. I am happy to respond quickly to any of your inquiries. I will consider shipping to other countries than are listed here, depending on the import regulations of the country.

Unless the customer requests and pays for an expedited method, domestic and international shipping is via United States Postal Service. The item will be wrapped carefully and packed in protective material in a postal service approved package. Delivery confirmation and insurance will be paid by me, the Seller.

On high value items, the shipping will be free. Otherwise, the shipping charge will be as noted at the Shipping tab of the item listed for sale.

I accept returned items if they are in the same condition as when shipped and if returned within a reasonable amount of time after receiving them. An item can be returned for any reason. I guarantee your satisfaction.

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Product Attributes

Primary Material: Jade stone
Size: 1 inch
Pattern: Cicada
Color: Green







Friday, August 28, 2015

Route to Bactria Pt 2: Tracing Archeological Findings

Part 2 of the proposed routes from the steppes to the Murghab-Amu Darya and Indus Valley regions.

This blog does not attempt to discuss the proposed routes traveled by every migratory culture that settled in this region, only the Bronze Age culture known as the Bactria-Margiana Archeological Complex.   The most detailed publications on the subject that I have read through the years are (1) Victor Sarianidi, Myths of Ancient Bactria-Margiana on Its Seals and Amulets; (2) J. P. Mallory, In Search of the Indo-Europeans; and (3) David W. Anthony, The Horse, the Wheel and Language.

Sarianidi is the foremost field archeologist and publisher of material on the Bactria-Margiana Archeological Complex.  Mallory is a historical anthropologist and wrote the afterword for another of Sarianidi's work, Margiana and Proto-Zorastrism.  Anthony is an anthropology professor at Hartwick College in New York where he also teaches courses in archeology.  For his work, The Horse, the Wheel and Language, he won the 2010 book award, Society for American Archeology.

This will be a short blog on the proposed routes of migration following the archeological evidence that reveal burial customs.

Burials
One of the most interesting finds in the tombs of the proto-Iranian people that constituted the Bactria-Margiana culture (generally dated 2500 - 1600 B.C.) is the presence of domesticated animal burials, sometimes alongside the deceased human's body.  Here is a photo of a buried horse, minus the head:

                                         p. 128 Necropolis of Gonur, Sarianidi

But before we gallop forth on our horses, let us see all the possible routes that are scattered with the burial remains of settlers with related burial practices.  J. P. Mallory considers the varied routes suggested by Marija Gimbutas as a possible solution to the origins of the cultures that this blog discusses:
Mallory, In Search of the Indo-Europeans

From left to right, the handwritten labels  show the geographic expansion of people with similar burial rituals and related grave goods; Medi (Mediterranean); Bos (Bosphorus); the Black Sea and below it, Anatolia and the Red Sea; the Caspian Sea and below it the Tigris and Euphrates rivers flowing into the Persian Gulf; then farther right are the Aral Sea and the Indus River Valley.  

Note that Gimbutas provided a map that suggests an expansion of what she called the Kurgan culture from settlements in the steppe regions from the Black Sea to the East of the Aral Sea.  The Kurgan culture takes its name from the shape of the grave in which the deceased humans and sacrificial animals were placed.  A kurgan is a pit grave with a rock mound above it.  This type of burial was uncovered in the Russian steppes and dated to about 4,500 years B.C. 

Gimbutas shows arrows indicating that some of people of the Kurgan culture went West from the steppes north of the Caspian.  That would explain why the language of the people still living in parts of India and the people now living in Iceland speak a modern version of what we now classify as "Indo-European."

For our search it is important to note that the arrow pointing south from the Caspian region and the two arrows pointing south from the region of the steppes surrounding the Aral Sea show routes into the areas in which the later Bronze Age culture of Bactria and Margiana (ca. 2,500 - 1,600 B.C.) and the related Indus Valley were found by the archeologists.  

Anthony p 249

The pit graves often contained not only the human remains but also pottery and ritually buried animals such as horses, cows and sheep.  Above you see the location of a horse skull indicated by an arrow in the sketch of a disturbed burial.  This archeological finding is dated to 4200 - 3700 B.C.  

Below is a photo taken at an archeological site in Kazakhstan, in the steppe zone above the Caspian Sea.  The remains are dated about 3700 - 3000 B.C.  Many such excavated house pits yielded about 300,000 horse bones.  In addition the hunters of this region left remains of large bovids (bison?), elk, deer, boar, bears, beavers, saiga antelopes, and gazelles.


horse burial 3700-3000 Anthony p 217



burial with pots, horse, and  partial wheels Anthony p 398

The photos and drawings above show a "Chariot grave," in the kurgan style left by the Sintashta culture in the Russian steppes.  Pottery, weapon points, a partial horse skeleton, horseback riding equipment such as cheek pieces, and spoked wheel impressions from wheels that had been set into slots in the floor of the grave.  

The horse burials left a trail for archeologists to follow from the steppes to the oases along such rivers as the Amu Darya, the Murghab and the Indus.  In future blogs we will discuss the archeological, the historic and the linguistic "solutions" to identifying the origins and the migrations of the proto-Indo-Iranians.  

At some point in this series, I will post Anthony's proposed route of the people from Gimbutas' Kurgan Culture who went east from the zone of the Aral Sea. 







Thursday, August 6, 2015

Tracing the Route to Bactria Part One: Methods

There are at least three ways of tracing the ancient migration route of the people from the steppes to the oases they found and settled.  The three different methods are used by a variety of interested authors.  I find a great deal of information on the proposed origins of the ancient Bactrian people and their proposed routes to Bactria.  You will find illustrations and captions borrowed from two of my sources with acknowledgment. 

1. Archeological excavations lead archeologists to follow pot shards and burial customs.  Often the pot shards are found in the tomb with the deceased.  This photo shows this method of tracing a certain culture:


A male and a female burial from Tulkhar [in upper Central Asia].  The male was buried with a rectangular hearth and with bones of a sheep, a dagger, pot, bead-amulet and a flint arrowhead.  The female was buried with a round hearth, sheep bones and a pot.  -- from In Search of the Indo-Europeans by J.P. Mallory, 1989   -- See the hearths in the upper left of the tomb sketch.

The author from which I took the photo above is not an archeologist, but has written the important work mentioned in the previous paragraph in which he includes the various methods of identifying ancient cultures.  He is perhaps best known as a historian of anthropology; he seems to be entranced with the Indo-European language and the cultures in which the various branches of the Indo-European cultures developed.  

2. Historians base their suppositions about pre-literate cultures on the archeological finds of ritual objects, personal adornment, utensils, tools, weapons and service animals.  For example, here are some early stories told in images.
Luristan [in Western Iran] bronze covering for a quiver dating to about the eighth or seventh century B.C....Georges Dum├ęzil has interpreted the figures as representatives of the three Indo-European 'functions'.  Three Registers are shown in detail: Sovereigns (figures enthroned between lions), warriors (figures dressed for battle with assistants holding weapons) and twins (two figures with ram's horns).  -- from Mallory, p. 134

3.  Linguists solve the problem of tracing ancient cultures through the language that is finally put into writing as the culture develops.  After identifying the language, they then trace backward through the methods of the archeologists and historians to a satisfactory -- and often debatable --conclusion.  Here is an example of how linguists trace backward from the present or recent language to their assumption of the original form of a certain language group.


Caption: A diagram of the sequence and approximate dates of splits in early Indo-European as proposed in this book, with the maximal window for Proto-Indo-European indicated th the dashed lines.  The dates of splits are determined by archaeological events.... -- from David W. Anthony, The Horse, the Wheel and Language, 2007.

In the chart you will notice that the Greek, Iranian and Indian language had split from the original proto-Indo-European root language used by the Greek speakers stemming from the Central Steppe regions as early as 2,500 B.C.  A dialect of Greek was certainly brought to the Iranian people in the Bactrian region by Alexander the Great (the 300s B.C.) in Bactria.

There is much more to be learned from the chart.  For example, the Germanic people from the West Steppe region  in 3,300 B.C. had developed a language that had also split from the proto-Indo-European mother tongue.  English is one of its great grandchildren.  

Through archeological findings and scientific examinations of the corpses and the grave goods in Bactria-Margiana tombs, the interpretation of the narrative images made in stone or metal, and finally the translation of the earliest writings by or about the Bactrians, the general scholarly conclusion is that the Bactrians were proto-Iranian people speaking what is now known as an Indo-European language, probably the old Persian that we could have heard if we were to visit the market places in Bactria of 1,800 B.C.

You are welcome to comment or inquire in the Comments section below this blog.
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Saturday, August 1, 2015

Bactrian Fascination with the Cross Symbol

One of the most common findings of compartmented copper seals in the ruins of Bactria is a circular form with a cruciform pattern at the center of the open work or solid metal seal.  For example, here is a photo of one of the most obvious cruciform interior pattern with open spaces defining the cross shape with beams extending to an ornate frame with a scalloped outside edge.

I would guess - and it is just my guess - that this common symbol had something to do with the Bactrian cultural understanding of the four directions that divided the Earth and their religious veneration of the four earthly elements: Fire, Water, Earth and Air.  What is your guess????  Use the comment section below to respond or inquire.  I answer promptly. 

Here is another example, with more decoration within the solid stamp seal: 

The photo below shows a compartmented cast copper seal with the cross defined by the open spaces which would leave a raised impression that outlined a cross when stamped into wax or clay: 

The next photo offers a more complex cruciform pattern, but it is still evident to the eye of a long time Bactria art buff: 
Cruciform Bactrian Seal with Four "Beams" reaching to the circular frame
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Reference: 
Victor Sarianidi, Myths of Ancient Bactria Margiana on Its Seals and Amulets

Contact me with questions or for invoice through the private message form at the top right of this page.

Here is my offer to make your collecting easier on the budget: 
I offer a Reserve and Pay in Partial Payments over 3 months for all purchases of $300.00 or more.  If you are interested, please contact me and we can make an arrangement that suits your needs.  

Unless the customer requests and pays for an expedited method, domestic and international shipping is via United States Postal Service. The item will be wrapped carefully and packed in protective material in a postal service approved package. Delivery confirmation and insurance will be paid by me, the Seller.

On purchases amounting to $300 or more, the shipping will be free. Otherwise, the shipping charge will be shown before checking out. 

I accept returned items if they are in the same condition as when shipped and if returned within a reasonable amount of time after receiving them. An item can be returned for any reason. I guarantee your satisfaction. 

For international buyers, it is important to note: If you need to know what import or VAT taxes your country may charge, please consult your Postal Service or government Tax Office.






Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Principal Styles of the Bactrian Seals per S Winkelmann

In her close study of the seals and amulets of ancient Bactria in the great Ligabue collection, the results of which she published in her Seals of the Oasis, Syliva Winkelmann carefully classifies the Bactrian glyptic styles.  She also provides a proposed sequence and duration of Bactrian stamp seal styles.

Her categories are named and described as

Rough or Drilled Style: Simple motifs of unsmoothed borings, found mostly in Bactria, precursors found in Central Asia and the Indo-Iranian borderlands.

My proposed example of this style in my personal collection:

Stone Amulet from Bactria, Authenticated and Published by V Sarianidi 
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Murghab Style: Canonized and stylized motifs with internal pattern made from flat cut lines and shallow and well-smoothed borings, found in both Bactria and Margiana (Murghab), made by indigenous crafters influenced by Iranian art.

My proposed example of this style in my personal collection:

Ancient Bactrian Carved Gypsum Seal Authenticated and Published

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Evolved Bactrian Style: Three dimensional and vigorous rendering in perspective drawings, Bactria findings, indigenous makers.

My proposed example of this style in my personal collection:

Bactrian Amulet, ca Four Thousand Yrs Old, Authenticated, Published
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Bactrian Smooth Style: Shallow cut motifs from well smoothed borings in softly formed outlines of nearly bag shaped bodies without internal markings, very thin cut legs, horns and tails.

My proposed example of this style in my personal collection:

Bactrian Stamp Seal White Stone Bird Image, Authentic, Published by Archeologist
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As for the beginning and end of the crafting of the various styles, this is the Winkelmann proposal:

Compartmented metal stamp seals: 2400 B.C. to 1700 B.C.
Drilled Style: 2500 B.C. to 1600 B.C.
Soft Murghab Style (Bactrian): 2300 B.C. to 1700 B.C.
Evolved Bactrian Style: 2000 B.C. to 1700 B.C.
Smooth Style: 2100 B.C. to 1600 B.C.

An addition to the time sequence of the styles, not described in the categories above:
Linear Murghab Style: 2100 B.C. to 1700 B.C.


Reference:
Seals of the Oasis, pp. 36, 37, Sylvia Winkelmann available at Amazon for about $12.00
The Ron Garner Collection.  I have a larger collection of items not posted at my website.  If you are interested, please leave a comment below by clicking on the COMMENTS tab and I will receive your message and respond promptly.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Bactrian Bronze Age Cast Metals and Engraved Stones

An example of the cruciform cast copper/bronze stamp seal, a major design in the Bactrian culture:

Ancient Bactrian Cruciform Compartmented Seal Dated, Published by Archeologist
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The time of production of copper compartmented stamp seals in Bactria is determined to be 2,500 B.C. to 1,600 B.C.   

This stamp seal is at least three thousand four hundred years old.   Described in Myths of Ancient Bactria-Margiana on Its Seals and Amulets by Dr. Victor Sarianidi, leader of the Russian excavation, on pages 106, 107, plate 301:  Seal, open work, corrugated edges.  Copper D - 5.4 cm  Cross 'patee' in the center of the seal. Ron Garner's (my own) collection  I would add that the center of the seal is in the form of a cross, a commonly found symbol in Bronze Age Bactrian compartmented stamp seals. The photo is published at plate 301. 

References: Victor Sarianidi, Necropolis of Gonur, Athens, 2007 Victor Sarianidi, Myths of Ancient Bactria and Margiana on its Seals and Amulets, 1998 Giancarlo Ligabue and Sandro Salvatori, Bactria, Venice, 198- 
Sylvia Winkelmann, Seals of the Oasis, Italy, 2004

Now for an example of and engraved stone in what Ms. Winkelmann names as the "smooth style" of making stone amulets: 

Ancient Stone Seal from Bactria Image of Horned Goat, Two Crescents  Contact me with questions or for invoice through the private message form at the top right of this page.

This is the image sheared from the stamp end of a pyramid shaped stamp seal or amulet. It is carved in brown stone. I would call it sandstone. 

It is photographed and published in the book Myths of Ancient Bactria-Margiana on Its Seals and Amulets, by Victor Sarianidi, the excavator of much of the Bactria-Margiana cultural ruins. Dr. Sarianidi, now deceased, visited us and photographed most of our Bactrian collection. Now most of the items we collected while we lived in Afghanistan, where Bactria is located, are published in Victor's works. 

This item is found on pages 256,257 of Myths of Ancient...., plate 1408.1 and 1408.2 as
'1408 Seal. Pyramidal stamp. Brown stone. 2.5 x 2.4 cm; h (thickness) 1.4 cm (corrected by owner to record the actual measurement of thickness as 4.3 mm)

This is a valuable addition to your collection of glyptics, whether from the Bactria Margiana Archeological Complex or from other related cultures.

A sampling shown here.   Contact me with questions or for invoice through the private message form at the top right of this page.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Mace in Ancient Times

Bactrian Mace Head White Stone Dating Third to Second Millenn BC


An ancient mace head, a  Bronze Age weapon  Contact me with questions or for invoice through the private message form at the top right of this page.

This heavy stone mace head was manufactured and might have been stored in the towers of the city walls where piles of similar weapons were found during the official excavation of the city. Or more likely it was carried with the warrior or the person who felt threatened and needed to carry a weapon.  This ancient mace head was found by an unauthorized excavation in recent times. He then sold it to a merchant who went out into the villages of Afghanistan to buy such antiquities to sell in Kabul, Afghanistan, the capital city. 

It is now in our collection along with many other Bactrian objects that I will be listing. These objects are identified and described in publications by the various archeologists who were involved in the official excavations in Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. 

You will see a photo labeled above as a similar mace head as published in Necropolis of Gonur, p. 109, plate 185, by Dr. Viktor Sarianidi, the leader of the Russian excavations in Bactria and Margiana. 

Measurements: 7.2 cm diameter; 6 cm high (2.8 in x 2.3 in)

I offer a Reserve and Pay in Partial Payments over 3 months for all purchases of $300.00 or more.  If you are interested, Contact me with questions or for invoice through the private message form at the top right of this page. 

A sample of the collection: