Sultan Palace Merv

Whole complex of objects found at the sites

Terracotta Objects:

  • V-shaped Female Figurines – Simple, stylized female figurines, big eyes, bird's noses and V-shaped parts of body, with outstretched arms and triangle- shaped gender attributes. Sometimes decorated with necklace amulets and incised arms. Some are very similar with the figurines from Altyn Depe or Namazga V sites. Earliest are only female figurines but later proved appearance of male figurines. The available finds prove the different production areas, artisanship, and ethnic groups.
  • Unbaked Clay Male and Female Figurines – Female and male Figurines, distinct shaped form not similar with previous period figurines.
  • Decorative Figurines on Ceramic Vessels – the figures include humans, birds, frogs, snakes and other animals, together representing a narrative scene in terracotta frieze on upper part of a vessel, bowl or jar.
  • Freestanding Animal Clay Figurines
Terracotta Tubes!!!

Bone objects:

    Bone tools finds, widely used at Margiana
  • Bone needles
  • Bone fleshers
  • Bone polishers

Worked astragalas bones – Ground and polished astragali were common finds from the excavations of the architecture at the south mound of Gonur. Objects done from astragali of sheep – goat, and wild pig. Suggested that the finds used as gaming pieces and as tools for grinding. The marble copy of an astragali from Togolok 21 (one of sites of Margiana) may suggest that it were more than gaming pieces, and may be used in certain rituals.

Incised bone tubes – the midsection of sheep- goat femora used for the engraved bone tubes found at Margiana sites. Cut, polished, reamed out and incised have been designed with larges eyes a stylized headdress above a collar bellow. Some were with dark pigments rubbed into the incisions. These finds are only from architectural context not in burials. Poppy pollen has been recorded from soil inside of the tubes making V.I. Sarianidi to interpret it as drinking tubes for sipping an opium-ephedra drink similar to haoma.

Prof. V. I. Sarianidi found at Gonur, what appears to be the boiler for the ritual drink soma, which is mentioned in the Rigveda (an ancient Indian collection of Vedic Sanckrit hymns. It is one of four sacred canonical texts of Hinduism known as the Vedas) and also in the Avesta (The primarily collection religious texts of Zoroastrianism, composed in Avestan language) as haoma is a divine plant in Zoroastrianism and in later Persian culture and mythology. Haoma has its origins in Indo-Iranian religion and is cognate of Vedic soma).

Bone axes – ground and polished bone objects made from the ends of long bones of large animals. They are carved in the same form as bronze axes found at Togolok 21 and Dashli 3 at Bactria. The exterior ground and polished to form a blade, having a hole vertically ground out for a handle and a small hole for a pin to hold the axe in the handle. These features provide good evidence that the axes, usually made of bronze, were ceremonial and not for everyday use.

Alabaster and steatite made objects:

  • Tall footed alabaster cups - are found from Namazga IV to the BMAC complex. Namazga IV cups with perforated lids, may had served as lamps.
  • Turned alabaster bowls
  • Alabaster vial – have square and round bases and incised line decoration.
  • Alabaster bull's head (Togolok 21)
  • Alabaster small amulets
  • Alabaster figures
  • Alabaster seals
  • Stone figure include human and small animal figures carved in the round. Composite multipart human figurines are made with a steatite base and a head and arms of a white stone, usually alabaster
  • Steatite carved amulet in the form of a camel
  • Variety of steatite made animals, as frogs and boars. Steatite amulets having images of mountain goat, monkeys and bear (reflect the proximity of the Bactrian area)

The steatite and alabaster amulets of Murghab area style are carved on two sides, and often pierced for a string. Many of this type of amulets come from Bactria. Other common amulets have a stepped diamond shape (is traditional design in Central Asia. Painted ceramics, stone beads and discs from Namazga IV). The steatite and alabaster stepped diamond amulets have carved decoration on either side. Sometimes, they are found at the sites of Harappa.

Imprints of amulets and seals found on oval and round bullae. One found bulla from Gonur Depe is oval with a hole for a string, similar to the much later Parthian and Sasanian bullae.

There are several types of stone seals, including those as the cylinder seals and the imitations of metal-compartmented seals, new to Central Asia. Steatite and alabaster seals have both drilled and have incised designs similar to amulets. They are classified separately from amulets by having a boss on the back which can be held and is pierced, similar to metal seals.

The cylindrical seals have vivid designs around the cylinder and often have a motif on the base with a loop boss carved on top. The carving on the base is similar both in technique of carving and in motifs to the locally manufactured round amulets.

Stone Miniature columns, Staffs, Mace-heads

Miniature stone columns, found different sizes - 16 cm, 21 cm, 21.5 cm, 23 cm, 24.5 cm, 25 cm, 27 cm, 27.5 cm, 28 cm, 28.5 cm, 29 cm. Some columns are paired by size: Black and white marble 21 cm, Grey salt and pepper granite 21.5 cm, Pink limestone with large round inclusions 21 cm, Pink grainy siliceous stone 24.5 cm, Dark red metamorphic conglomerate in a white matrix 29 cm, Yellow pink siliceous rock.

Miniature columns often occur with stone staffs. Staffs (or scepters) made of marble, alabaster, and schist found in many Central Asia burials from Bactria and foothill zone. Fragments of schist staffs have been found in Margiana, at Gonur Depe and at Togolok 21. Earlier it comes from Namazga V assemblages, found at Altyn Depe.

Round stone mace-heads, are also the part of Bactria and Margiana complex. Plain stone mace-heads dated to the earliest period of Margiana, whereas in the later BMAC period they are ornately carved. In Bactria, mace-heads are also made of bronze and of lead, and are associated with the staffs and miniature columns.

Miniature columns, staffs, and mace-heads appear to have been important symbols, beyond whatever utilitarian function they also might have had. In the BMAC, for the first time they are grouped together, in bot burial and architectural contexts. Probably, the incorporated as a set into the BMAC cultural system. The large assemblage of these stone objects in Togolok 21, may attest its central place in Margiana, in the middle period.

Stone pocketbooks (stone loom weights)- are oval or round in shape stones with a hole through the top to serve as a loop or handle. These are close in size and shape to the weights from warp-weighted looms for weaving. Similar to the traditional warp-weighted looms weights from Iran. Undecorated stone pocketbooks found in Iran and in Central Asia from III millennium BCE, Namazga III- IV levels, Margiana, Bactria. Mostly all found in domestic contexts.

Large Grinding Stones found in all the sites of Margiana, as well as the polished hand stones and pestles. Many caches of these have been found, as if they were hidden together before being abandoned. They are made of basalt, limestone and sandstone, the closest sources  of which are more than 200 km away in the foothills of the Kopet Dag mountains. The numerous grinding stones and pocketbooks found on every site in Margiana, in total, represent an enormous quantity of stone imported to the desert oases.

Chipped Stone Arrow points are part of the Central Asia Bronze Age tradition. Distinctive ripple flaked points have been found in architectural contexts and from the surface of Gonur. The points are similar to those found at Kelleli 4 also in Margiana, and at Altyn Depe from the upper levels. Total absence of debitage at Gonur, suggest that finished points were imported. A wide variety of chipped stone points are also found in situ from Togolok 21, and at Takhirbai 3 (Margiana sites).

Metals objects variety:

Many metals objects are tools or household objects. Blades include knives, spears, arrow points and razors. The tools included drills, chisels, and punches were part of the local production complex. Some tools showing signs of use are from burials. The metal ornaments include cosmetic vials and pins, decorative pins, mirrors, bracelets, rings and fragments of compartmented and geometric seals. In general, the jewelry and ceremonial objects found primarily in burials, only some found on floors of buildings and in midden.

Small bronze and copper alloy vials found in northern and southern Bactria, in association with decorative pins and sticks. The vials from Margiana differ in form from those found in Bactria, reflecting regional differences in the shape of vessels between Bactria and Margiana. This suggest local centers of metallurgical production, as opposed to itinerant metallurgists. It also emphasizes the lack of exchange of finished objects between oases despite the fact that the raw metal (apparently as ingots) probably came from Hissar mountains near the northern Bactrian oases.

Large pins with decorated ends, 8-14 cm in length, are often associated with small bronze and copper alloy jars. Round finials are most common in Margiana at Gonur and Togolok. Pins with animal forms or body parts are common from Bactrian sites of Sapalli and Dzharkutan. Previously it was suggested that the Margiana variant contrasted with the Bactrian variant by its lack of precious metals. However, the large pins made of gold were found at Egri Bogaz in Margiana.

Bracelets and earrings are a very commonfeature of the BMAC assemblageof metals. Copper, bronze, silver and lead earrings are common in BMAC burials in Margiana. Bactrian variants of the bracelets have twisted decoration, and the ends are sometimes in the form of snakes’ heads. These features are evocative of later Iranian bracelets of Luristani and Achaemenid types.

Bronze and copper alloy stamps seals are distinctive feature of the BMAC complex. There are two broad categories of seal forms: 1. Compartmented – open backed with the design soldered on. 2. Champlev? – closed, most likely wax cast, with the design cast and gouged out. The geometric and figurative seals of Margiana, both made in the compartmented and the champlev? techniques. The geometric seals are stylistically undifferentiated from the earlier period. Bronze stamp seals impressions found on pottery, stamped prior to firing. This practice is similar to that with the stone seals and indicates a similar function.

Bronze and copper alloy axes in Margiana and Bactria, are of the cast shaft-hole variety. They have a zoomorphic form, most typically with a prominent eye motif on each side and a tail or a beak. In Margiana these axes have been cast but not hardened for use and thus are considered to have been ceremonial in nature. Such axes found in burial contexts and in monumental architecture in Bactria and Margiana. Axes from bactria are similar to the Margiana type but more elaborate, with designs of animals and dragons similar to BMAC amulets. These axes are best known from plundered tombs of southern Bactria, which include gold and silver chased examples.

The distinctive styles of metal objects from Margiana suggest local manufacture. There are also several direct indicators of metallurgical production. Most notable a copper ingot found at Gonur South. This, together with a metal casting mold found on the surface at Gonur. The mold has the form of an eagle engraved on it. Very similar cast eagles adorn the rim of metal vessels of BMAC.