Sultan Palace Merv

Connections with Indus Valley Civilization

Among the published information of ceramic vessels, there are only a few complete specimens that can be positively related to the pottery productions of Baluchistan and the Indus Valley. Other artifacts require further examination and systematic publication to confirm their relation to different Indus iconographies or production or determine the origin of specific raw material.

  • One square stamp found in Temple of Water of Gonur North, is evident having an Indus origin, made of fired steatite. It bears the image of a standing Asian elephant carved below an inscription composed of eight Indus signs. The number of signs in the inscription and its carving style broadly date the seal to the last phase of the Indus Civilization, around 2200- 1900 BC
  • A two-side round amulet- seal made from a yellow brownish stone at Gonur South belongs among the previously discussed Indus hybrid seals with the image of an Indian bison
  • One anthropomorphic and one theriomorphic sculpture found at Gonur North have direct parallels mainly at contemporaneous sites in the Indus Valley, and in southeastern Iran
  • The unfinished fragment of a kneeling male figure found in the Royal Sanctuary of Gonur North, closely resembles in its posture and sculpting style the series of kneeling men found in the upper levels of Mohenjo- Daro, including the famous priest-king and a comparable specimen from Dholavira
  • The stone sculpture of a squatting ram, placed in the Royal Necropolis of Gonur North to support the head of a deceased, closely resembles a group of similar statues found at Mohenjo-Daro, and one specimen property of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

In the absence of detailed analyses of the carving techniques and of the geological provenance of the stones used to manufacture all these statues, it is impossible to positively establish whether they were local productions or the result of exchanges. However, the local manufacturing of a kneeling man at Gonur Depe. The evident affinities with the figures embossed on silver vessels from Bactria, with comparable pieces found at Sistan, and with the decoration of an alabaster vessel found at Dashly 3 (Afghanistan). All suggest the existence (at the end of third and in the first centuries of the second millennium BCE) of an intercultural sphere of shared beliefs that led to the local creation of similar cult objects and ritual paraphernalia, rather than the mere exchange of finished goods between Central Asia, Baluchistan and the Indus Valley.

The result of the study of ivory artifacts found at Gonur Depe up through the 2008 field season indicate that all artifacts were clearly manufactured from the tusks of Asian elephant. Other category of finds include the number of different objects, mainly hairpins with their heads decorated with incised lines or carved in the typical shape of fist, made from animal bones instead of true ivory.

Several indicators coalesce to enable identifying Asian male elephants, as the unique source used to produce the ivory objects revealed at Gonur Depe. In particular, the presence and arrangement of the Schreger lines, the distinct cone-in-cone pattern resulting from continuous growing of the elephant tusks, the occasional presence of residual traces of cementum on the surface of a few objects, and the specific mode of surface exfoliation due to post –depositional processes, are characteristic of elephant ivory. Moreover, in several cases the thorough examination of the size and orientation of the cone-in- cone pattern made it possible broadly reconstruct the size, proportions and curvature of the tusk and to determine the portion of the tusk from where the object was obtained. This latter information testifies to the use of ivory coming from male Elephas maximus instead of Loxodonta Africana, the former having smaller, straighter and narrower tusks.