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Russian Archaeologist Continues a Series of Sensational Discoveries in Parthian Mehrdâd-Gerd (Margiana/Merv)


03 October 2004


View of the palace complex at Gonur North. 


The Margian archeological expedition headed by the well-known Russian archeologist, Dr. Victor Sarianidi, continued a series of sensational findings during a new season of excavations, the Ashgabat.

It is necessary to recall that scientists found an ancient Temple of Water dated late 3rd millennium B.C. this spring during excavation works at the site of the ancient city of Gonur situated in the delta of the Murgab river (Bayramali district of Mary region). A little bit later the expedition found a partially sacked king’s tomb in a Mausoleum near the Temple.


There was found a unique for Ancient Iranian chariot with bronze wheels and yoked animals in one of the tomb’s mortuary rooms. Besides, scientists managed to dig out mortuary rooms with sacred sheep surrounded by bronze mortuary sacrifices, the so-called “harpoons”.

The expedition continued excavations at the site of the Temple of Water "Anahita" this autumn. As Victor Sarianidi reported that he found another tomb on the very fist days of work. Although it was also sacked in the ancient times, like the first tomb, archeologists made some new discoveries.

First of all, the walls of the mortuary room were decorated with a colorful mosaic panel. According to Victor Sarianidi, “the walls are fully covered by mosaic made up of hundreds of small figured pieces that were skillfully sawed from gypsum tile. Along with simple geometrical designs there are pictures of sore panthers with fangs, wild boars and eagles in the same heraldic posture that in itself are the great monuments of the ancient applied art.” According to the scientist, “there can be clearly seen narrative compositions, either in the form of serpentine dragons with open chaps, eating goats, or other mythical predators. ”In the Russian archeologist’s opinion, pictures of a pair of facing each other winged griffins in a ready-to-fight position are of particular importance. “Their grinned chaps are wide open and their eyes are screwed up and express animosity. Such compositions were typical of the Assyrian art. In the ancient times they were popular in the Near and Middle East and, as it appears now, in Central Asia, [Iranian World]” the scientist said. According to the archeologist, the findings “mark the beginning of discoveries of a new, earlier unknown mosaic art of Margiana.”

Yet, the real surprise to the scientists, as Victor Sarianidi confesses, was the next king’s tomb, which to all appearances has never been put to sack. That is why it has kept intact about twenty big silver vessels, one of which has a relief with a picture of the caravan of camels painted, as the Russian archeologist notes, “astonishingly close to reality”. There were found a big golden decant and a golden cup standing nearby. There was also a sculpture of the lying sheep made of white stone in the same mausoleum. It is half a meter long. Archeologists have never happened to excavate such stone sculptures in this territory before, Victor Sarianidi said.

On the last days of September archeologists found the second wheeled carriage in the third tomb in a row that has also retained thick bronze rims. At the same time they detected the locations of three more such mausoleums.

At present, scientists try to solve a problem of the soonest conservation of findings. “If we don’t take immediate steps on conservation of these findings that have rested in the soil over centuries, they will be quickly and irretrievably destroyed by oxygen and other natural factors,” Victor Sarianidi stressed.



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