Thursday, March 28, 2013

Mythical Figures on Bactrian Amulet from Ancient Times

Bactrian Amulet, Ancient, Images Two Sides, Authenticated and Published
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From our collection that began while we lived in Afghanistan comes this ancient Bactrian limestone amulet is incised with figures of humans and animals that carry a mythical meaning, one that we cannot fully translate. The excavator of parts of the Bactria-Margiana Archeological Complex, Dr. Victor Sarianidi, describes this particular seal in his work Myths of Ancient Bactria-Margiana on Its Seals and Amulets, pages 248, 249, figures 1367.1 and 1367.2. 

Victor Sarianidi notates the amulet thus: 1367. Amulet. Pink limestone, D[iameter] - 2.35 cm, h[eight] meaning thickness - 1.5 cm. [Since he published the image from the photo of an impression of the seal, it does not show up as pink limestone in the book.] Standing human figure, one hand on his waist, another raised. Smaller figure stands in front of the first one with outstretched arms. A plant on the right side of the figure. // Horned deer running to the right. A tree in front of the animal, a bird(?) under its belly. Above the deer there is some other animal. 

Dr. Sarianidi became a friend of ours through our interest in his work. When he learned that we had a collection of Bactrian artifacts, he came to our home for a visit and asked for photographs of our Bactrian seals and amulets for his intended publication mentioned above. He examined each of the seals in our collection, chose those that he recognized as genuine antiquities, and wrote copious notes on each one. 

Victor taught us a great deal about our seals and what they revealed about the beliefs and behavior of the ancient Bactrian people. His interpretation of that culture is included in the book cited above. 

The amulet was collected in Afghanistan where Bactria is located. 

I invite your inquiries.

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  1. Another fascinating post, Anna. Both sides are interesting, but am drawn to the animal side. Reminds me of glyphs here in the Southwest. Always wonder what the meaning is . . . Thanks for sharing!

  2. Yes, it is rather amazing and in a way heartwarming to see that from the caves in Avignon, France to Eastern Afghanistan to Southwest Texas people seem to think much alike at each stage of cultural development. Victor, our archeologist friend, did a great deal of interpretation of these glyphs, as did some historians before him. But I really never know how much background people want. The collectors of these objects usually already know the information.

    Thanks for reading and commenting.

  3. This is amazing! Thanks for sharing this. In Tartaria, ancient Dacia now Romania were found 3 similar objects, having the same approx 5500 bc. How old are those?

    1. Very interesting. These are not as old. They are dated by the excavating archaeologists to about 2500 - 1600 B.C.