BACTRIA MARGIANA ARCHAEOLOGICAL COMPLEX PDF

Among the different reasons suggested to explain these sociocultural changes, the hypothesis of global climate change in Central Asia at the beginning of the 4th millennium BP has been emphasized by different scholars. In this paper, I will examine current paleo-environmental data in relation with the climate evolution during the Mid- and Late Holocene. A critical assessment of the hypothesis of climatic change in Central Asia at the beginning of the 4th millennium BP allows to stimulate the discussion anew. I argue that the present data do not support a drastic climate change during the first half of the 4th millennium BP as a responsible factor for the fall of the Oxus civilization, although local environmental modifications should also not be underestimated and further investigated in a more integrated perspective of co-evolution of the ecological environment and the human societies. The issue concerning the variability of the climatic system, its impact on sociocultural changes and human action on climate is currently strongly debated in view of the present-day situation of climate disruption.

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Dated to ca. Bactria is the old Greek name for northern Afghanistan and the northeast corner of Iran, while Margiana is further north, in what is today Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Much of archeological work was done in Soviet era by Soviet scientists. The Bactria-Margiana civilisation occupied the region from the Neolithic until around B. Bactria Margiana was a resourceful agricultural society that thrived around oases in the harsh Kara-kum Desert. It; 1 established large urban centers; 2 built mud-brick fortifications, large buildings and monumental arches; 3 established extensive irrigation systems to grow wheat and barley; 4 raised goats and sheep; 5 produced fine ceramics, bronze goods, alabaster and bone carvings and jewelry made with gold and semiprecious stones; 6 buried luxury goods with the dead; and 7 may have developed writing or proto-writing.

The influence of ancient civilisations in the region was complemented by the constant interaction between sedentary and nomadic cultures. As a result, a number of mixed-type cultures emerged, which combined highly developed arable farming with cattle-breeding and extensive use of the horse for military purposes and transportation.

The Aryans had laid the foundation for the formation of the Iranian ethnos and culture in the region; language continuity became a decisive factor in this process.

There still remained localised autonomies that once in a while recognised the supremacy of one over the others, for a short time only. Bactria was the Greek name for the area of Bactra modern Balkh 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 s onward revealed numerous monumental structures in many sites, fortified by impressive walls and gates but word of them was mostly confined to Soviet journals and little in known in the west until Sarianidi's work began to be translated in the s. Margiana 50 miles north of Merv, Turkmenistan is the site of a Bronze Age civilization that thrived around the 2nd millennium B.

Its inhabitants built mud-wall fortresses and crafted bronze seals, lovely ceramics, jewelry and ceremonial items and drank a potion made with opium, cannabis and ephedra plants. Some historians believe that Zoroaster may have lived here.

Two of the most important sites are Anau and Gonur. For him, Gonur is the capital of a people who came from the West with a religion that evolved into Zoroastrianism. In the long, still desert evenings at his camp, he speaks of migrants fleeing from drought-plagued Mesopotamia to this virgin land, bringing a conviction that fire is holy, as well as techniques for brewing a hallucinogenic drink called soma.

Eventually, some wandered farther east, part of the migration of Aryans on horseback who conquered India about 3, years ago. This theory of his finds little support, however. The most ancient Bactria—Margiana civilization is called the Kopet-Dag culture.

Later settlements like Gonur, roughly 4, years old, may have been founded by people from the Kopet-Dag cultures. By B. They used carts drawn by domesticated animals, and their pottery resembles the kind later found in Gonur. Many Soviet and Western archaeologists suspect that the Oxus civilization—at least in Margiana, the region in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan—evolved from this Kopet-Dag culture.

One possibility is drought, says Yale University archaeologist Harvey Weiss. He theorizes that the same drought that he claims destroyed the world's first empire—the Akkadians in Mesopotamia—around B. If the small streams that poured out of the mountains stopped flowing, life in the arid climate would have been impossible. That would have forced the people of Kopet-Dag to head toward Gonur and settle by the Murgab River, the only reliable source of water in the Kara-Kum. With its headwaters in distant Hindu Kush glaciers, the river would have continued flowing even in the hottest summers or longest droughts.

That could explain why so many Oxus sites are built on virgin soil, as if carefully planned in advance. Indeed, many Kopet-Dag sites appear to have been abandoned about B. Hiebert's excavation at Anau, however, shows that it at least remained inhabited even as Gonur flourished.

In , archaeologists found a thumbnail-size stone object from Bactria Margiana inscribed with three or four red symbols that may be an ancient form of writing. The symbols are different from those used in the writing of Mesopotamia, Iran and the Indus Valley. The scientists speculate the object may have been a seal, with a measure of units of grain, and was used in the accounting of commodities as was the case with seals in Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley.

The symbols resemble an ancient form of Chinese writing that was used until about B. A similar-sized seal found in Xinjiang, dated to the Han Period B.

The verdict is still out on whether the symbols are a true writing based on a spoken language. Critics claim the symbols are simply too limited to link them with a language. Fredrik T. At some basic level, this seems to be writing. Of course, with only one seal, it is premature to talk about how it was used, what the symbols meant or what kind of language it was.

Oxus or Bactria-Margiana civilisation, which was at its peak from around to B. The Scythians, who lived in various parts the Eurasian steppe were first recorded to use cannabis in around B. It is thought that the religion of the civilisation was a form of fire-worship that later developed into Zoroastrianism, the official religion of the Persian Empire.

He claimed that cannabis along with opium and ephedra, other entheogenic plants indigenous to the region was used to make an intoxicating beverage, known as haoma to the Zoroastrians and soma to the Vedic priests of India. He also observed modern cannabis plants growing in the vicinity of the temples. It was reported that analysis of the samples confirmed the presence of cannabis and ephedra. The ceramic pots also contained layers of gypsum that had settled over the years and retained the impressions of small seeds stated to be from the hemp plant.

Furthermore, the identification of the seed impressions as being hemp has also been disputed, with some arguing that they are too small. This in turn has been countered by others who argue that ancient strains of cannabis produced generally smaller seeds, which has been demonstrated by other prehistoric excavations such as the Scythian burial sites in Pazyryk, which were unearthed between and by the Russian archaeologist Sergei Rudenko.

Furthermore, crosses of modern indica varieties with the wild-type ruderalis that is still found in the region of the excavations have produced varieties thought similar to the dominant ancient phenotype; some of these varieties are notable for their exceptionally small seeds.

It is likely that, rather than any one plant, the drink was a mixture of plants with psychoactive properties, and that the plants themselves may have varied with locality or point in time—which, of course, does that preclude the likelihood that cannabis would have been among them. It is worth noting that at the point at which the Zoroastrian religion became formally established circa BCE , references to haoma cease and references to bhanga, which certainly refers to cannabis, suddenly begin to appear.

Other sites have been found in a stretch of the Kara-kum Desert measuring kilometers long and 80 kilometers wide. The oases where they established settlements were later used by Silk Road caravans. The evidence is unmistakable Damaged by time and earthquakes, the edifice is still famous for the two serpent-dragon mosaics—showing more the influence of China than of Mecca—that once guarded its facade.

Around us are hundreds of mysterious little constructions, Stonehenge-like, each made of three small bricks. Hairpins and bits of cloth—probably linked to Central Asian shamanism—are scattered about the hilltop.

Women come here to pray for children. One family, three generations of women, sits silently in a row by a tomb. Hiebert casually picks up glazed Iranian ware and a bit of Chinese blue pottery.

Although unknown to most Western scholars, this ancient civilization dates back 4, years—to the time when the first great societies along the Nile, Tigris-Euphrates, Indus, and Yellow rivers were flourishing.

To water their orchards and fields, they dug lengthy canals to channel glacier-fed rivers that were impervious to drought. They traded with distant cities for ivory, gold, and silver, creating what may have been the first commercial link between the East and the West.

They buried their dead in elaborate graves filled with fine jewelry, wheeled carts, and animal sacrifices. Then, within a few centuries, they vanished. Canals from the Murgab River, which once flowed nearby, provided water for drinking and irrigation. The scale and organization of this construction was unmatched in Central Asia until the Persians' arrival in the sixth century B.

The prowess of the Oxus metalworkers—who used tin alloys and delicate combinations of gold and silver—were on par with the skills of their more famous contemporaries in Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Indus Valley, Lamberg-Karlovsky says. Their creations display a rich repertoire of geometric designs, mythic monsters, and other creatures. Among them are striking humanoid statues with small heads and wide skirts, as well as horses, lions, snakes, and scorpions.

Archaeologists had puzzled over their origin. Sarianidi's excavations seem to solve the puzzle: These items originated in the region around Gonur. The people of Gonur may simply have followed the shifting course of the Murgab River to found new towns located to the south and west. Their descendants may have built the fabled city of Merv to the south, for millennia a key stop along the Silk Road.

Warfare among the Oxus people could have undermined the fragile system of oasis farming, or nomads from the steppes may have attacked the rich settlements. Sarianidi has found evidence that extensive fires destroyed some of Gonur's central buildings and that they were never rebuilt. Whatever the cause, within a short period Oxus settlements declined in number and size, and the Oxus pottery and jewelry styles vanished from the archaeological record.

The large and square mud-brick architecture of the Gonur people may live on, however, in the clan compounds of Afghanistan and in the old caravansaries—rest stops for caravans—that dot the landscape from Syria to China. Both lay near small stone boxes similar to those manufactured in southeastern Iran.

These items provide tantalizing hints of commercial traffic on a Silk Road predating by two millennia the trading route that eventually linked China to Europe in the early centuries A. Hiebert likens the Oxus civilization to Polynesia—a scattered but common culture held together by camels rather than canoes. Tepe Fullol is site dated to B. By the early part of the Bronze Age ca.

Bronze Age towns featured massive fortified buildings with towers constructed of unbaked bricks. This architectural tradition continued for centuries. In farmers near the northern Afghan village of Fullol accidentally discovered a burial cache that contained the first evidence of the Oxus civilization in Afghanistan. The grave contained several bowls, which are made of gold that probably came from the Oxus riverbed.

Their designs include animal imagery—a boar and bearded bulls the latter derived from distant Mesopotamia —indicating that at this early date Afghanistan was already part of an extensive network of trade and cultural exchanges.

The grave goods from Tepe Fullol attest to the existence of elites whose wealth was the result of a very active role in the trade of precious materials, particularly lapis lazuli, that were mined in the nearby mountains of Badakhshan and exported to the major cities of Mesopotamia and further west to Syria and Egypt. Local authorities managed to salvage a dozen gold and silver cups and bowls along with some gold and silver fragments , which they turned over to the National Museum. The geometric "stepped-square" motifs on one goblet, for instance, resemble designs uncovered in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, and the gold itself likely came from Central Asia's Amu Darya River known in antiquity as the Oxus.

But although these bowls have something of a local character, says Jarrige, "they also show signs of outside influences Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex BMAC is still regarded as relatively minor ancient culture but until that last few decades it was virtually unknown. Their findings, which were published only in obscure Russian-language journals Western scholars subsequently used that landmark to dub the newly found culture the Oxus civilization.

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Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex

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BACTRIA MARGIANA (OXUS CIVILIZATION) AND EARLY CENTRAL ASIAN POLITIES

Dated to ca. Bactria is the old Greek name for northern Afghanistan and the northeast corner of Iran, while Margiana is further north, in what is today Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Much of archeological work was done in Soviet era by Soviet scientists. The Bactria-Margiana civilisation occupied the region from the Neolithic until around B. Bactria Margiana was a resourceful agricultural society that thrived around oases in the harsh Kara-kum Desert. It; 1 established large urban centers; 2 built mud-brick fortifications, large buildings and monumental arches; 3 established extensive irrigation systems to grow wheat and barley; 4 raised goats and sheep; 5 produced fine ceramics, bronze goods, alabaster and bone carvings and jewelry made with gold and semiprecious stones; 6 buried luxury goods with the dead; and 7 may have developed writing or proto-writing.

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Category:Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex

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It was in present-day Turkmenistan , northern Afghanistan and northeastern Iran , southern Uzbekistan and western Tajikistan. Its sites were discovered and named by the Soviet archaeologist Viktor Sarianidi Bactria was the Greek name for the area of Bactra modern Balkh , in what is now northern Afghanistan. Margiana was the Greek name for the Persian satrapy of Margu, in today's Turkmenistan. Sarianidi's excavations from the late s onward many buildings in many sites. The findings were unknown to the West until Sarianidi's work was translated in the s.

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