Sultan Palace Merv

Local links and processes between the earlier foothill local cultures/sites of Anau, Namazga, Geoksur, and Altyn Depe to Margiana and Bactria as BMAC

V-shaped figurines as predominant ceremonial artifact come to end in the further development in Margiana. Round and compartmented figurines and statuettes become more common for ceremonial use. This reflect the culture change in continuous development of Margiana.

Stone staffs, disks, and miniature columns are incorporated into BMAC development. These objects probably got new definition of cultural meanings to them.

Further development of large and rich iconography, including zoomorphic, anthropomorphic and geometric designs.

Motifs on stone, bronze, and copper alloy seals become diversified. Motifs include animals, humans, dragons and some narrative scenes. Amulets made of terracotta, bone, stone, copper or bronze alloy. The new artistic and iconographic symbols on the artifacts include snakes, scorpions and plants typical of the desert around Margiana and images of mountain goats typical of northern Bactria. Images of domestic plants, camel, sheep and other herd animals are also common on BMAC artifacts. The development in Margiana is indicated by the continuity in ceramics, architecture, and settlements.

The occurrence of steppe nomadic artifacts inside building complexes in Margiana attests to interaction with Andronovo nomads (Alakul 1800-1500 BCE, Alekseyevka 1200-1000 BCE),from the eastern steppe. These nomads could have introduced new stylistic traditions to the area. However steppe material in Margiana is rare and the new motifs of snakes, scorpions, boar…relate to the oases environment itself rather than to the steppe nomadic traditions.

The distribution of the Margiana and Bactria material outside of Central Asia indicates a wide expansion of contacts with the greater Indo- Iranian region, from the Indus valley to western Iran, to Mesopotamia, and perhaps beyond. Burials found well outside of Central Asiathat have exclusively BMAC goods, including ceramics. This proves the contacts of Central Asia people, probably involved in acquiring raw materials, with contemporary cultures to the south. However, in Margiana itself no evidence of foreign styles or imported objects from the south.

Despite the contacts with the nomads to the north and with contemporary Bronze Age cultures to the south, the emergence of the new style appears to be indigenous process of development rather than the adoption or importing of an ideology or art style. The lack of finished imported objects and the occurrence of imported raw materials are characteristic of this suggestion. The changes in the local economy and society affect the ideology, religion, and possibly language. It reflected in the new artistic depictions, ritual objects, and figurines in Margiana and Bactria. The architectural development in Margiana was followed by the ideological changes expressed in the iconography of axes, figurines, seals and amulets.

The archeologists suggest many explanations for the widespread distribution of Bronze Age oasis settlements in Margiana and also in Bactria:

  • Migrations from the Iranian plateau, originally coming from Mesopotamia (V.I. Sarianidi in 1987)
  • Evolution from the Baluchistan tradition (Jarrige 1987)
  • Nomadic incursions (Alyekshin 1980)
  • Evolution from the Kopet Dag foothill zone (Biscione 1977)
  • Followed by continuous growth of a local population in the oasis areas (Udemuradov 1988).

Based on new data from Margiana, the last two suggestions have strong ground to be correct.