Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Shared Culture of Ornamentation

The ancient culture of Bactria along the Amu Darya river (now in Afghanistan), the Margiana culture along the Murghab river (now in Turkmenistan), the proto-Iranian culture in the deserts south of the Caspian all reveal enough strong parallels in ornamentation that some archeologists have grouped them into one of the following appellations: Bactria-Margiana Archeological Complex (BMAC), Outer Iranian culture, or proto-Iranian culture. Whether the shared cultural items and ornamental motifs arrived through exchange or whether they were brought into new areas by immigrants is still being debated by the scholars. I learned only today that very recently the Iranian archeologists have named the finds from the Kerman region (located within the boundaries of modern Iran) the *Jiroft* culture. It is dated as contemporary with the Bactria-Margiana culture.

From the published photos of some of the finds (the publication is recent; I do not know when the artifacts were excavated), I see a continuity in the mythical motifs of winged serpents fighting lions such as in this piece from the article from The image is somewhat related to the image of the serpents eating a goat in my last blog at this site.

One of the glaring differences between the cultural output of the Bactria-Margiana and that of the Jiroft culture is the table with symbols that appear to be script from the ruins in Jiroft, in the Kerman region, whereas there has never been a scrap of anything that might be construed as writing in the Bactria-Margiana finds.

Above: the tablet from the Jiroft site is more like script than anything found in the tons of artifacts removed from the Bactria-Margiana sites. Below: this item from Jiroft is very like the images of the myths and symbols expressed on the BMAC material.

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