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Ancient mysteries revealed in Turkmen desert


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#1    Abramelin

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 07:01 AM

Over four millennia ago, the fortress town of Gonur-Tepe might have been a rare advanced civilisation before it was buried for centuries under the dust of the Kara Kum desert in remote western Turkmenistan. After being uncovered by Soviet archaeologists in the last century, Gonur-Tepe, once home to thousands of people and the centre of a thriving region, is gradually revealing its mysteries with new artifacts being uncovered on every summer dig.

The scale of the huge complex which spans some 30 hectares can only be properly appreciated from the air, from where the former buildings look like a maze in the desert surrounded by vast walls. Just 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the celebrated ancient city of Merv outside the modern city of Mary, the ruins of Gonur-Tepe are an indication of the archaeological riches of Turkmenistan, one of the most isolated countries in the world.

Around 2,000 BC, Gonur-Tepe was the main settlement of the Margush or Margiana region that was home to one of the most sophisticated, but little-known Bronze Age civilisations. The site -- which until the last century was covered by desert and scrub -- was uncovered in Soviet times by the celebrated archaeologist Viktor Sarianidi who, at the age of 84, is about to spend another summer working on the site.


More here:

http://archaeologyne...ml#.UWEXpUq67TO


Posted Image

http://www.turkotek....0040/tamgas.htm


Gonur Tepe is the largest of the more than 200 Bronze Age sites that have been identified by the Margiana Archeological Expedition,  led by Victor Sarianidi,  in southeastern Turkmenistan  where the ancient delta of the Murgab River used to flow. It represents a unique monumental complex of palaces and temples marking the administrative and religious centre of the ancient kingdom of Margus (Margiana). It occupied a strategic location which enabled the regulation of the water supply affecting the whole kingdom. Gonur Tepe is comprised of separate complexes, the largest and oldest of which is North Gonur, a monumental well planned palace and temple complex that dates from 2300-2250 B.C. To its west lies a large necropolis while towards the south an unfinished religious centre (the temenos) had began to be constructed.

http://blacksandsfil...com/gonur-tepe/





#2    Abramelin

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 07:10 AM

Gonur Tepe is an archaeological site in Turkmenistan that was inhabited by Indo-Iranian peoples until sometime in the 2nd millennium BCE dating back to 2500 bc. The site was discovered by Greek-Russian archaeologist Viktor Sarianidi. Sarianidi discovered a palace, a fortified mud-brick enclosure, and temples with fire altars which he believes were dedicated to the Zoroastrian religion. He also found what appears to be the boiler for the ritual drink soma, which is mentioned in the Rigveda and haoma as in the avesta. Sarianidi says he also found dishes with traces of cannabis, poppy and ephedrine. According to Sarianidi, this discovery strengthens the theory that these were the ingredients of soma. The site was most likely abandoned after the Murghab River's course moved to the west. Sarianidi declares it as the 5th oldest civilization on earth not just a culture but a lost civilization.

http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Gunar_Tepe


#3    Abramelin

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 07:17 AM

Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex

The Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex (or BMAC, also known as the Oxus civilization) is the modern archaeological designation for a Bronze Age civilisation of Central Asia, dated to ca. 2300–1700 BCE, located in present day northern Afghanistan, eastern Turkmenistan, southern Uzbekistan and western Tajikistan, centered on the upper Amu Darya (Oxus River). Its sites were discovered and named by the Soviet archaeologist Viktor Sarianidi (1976). Bactria was the Greek name for the area of Bactra (modern Balkh), in what is now northern Afghanistan, 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 1970s onward revealed numerous monumental structures in many sites, fortified by impressive walls and gates. Reports on the BMAC were mostly confined to Soviet journals, until the last years of the Soviet Union, so the findings were largely unknown to the West until Sarianidi's work began to be translated in the 1990s.

There is archaeological evidence of previous settlement in the well-watered northern foothills of the Kopet Dag from the Neolithic period. This region is dotted with the multi-period tells characteristic of the ancient Near East, similar to those south west of the Kopet Dag in the Gorgan Plain in Iran. At Jeitun (or Djeitun) mudbrick houses were first occupied c. 6000 cal. BCE. These farming people were herding domesticated goats and sheep and growing wheat and barley, all with origins in South-West Asia. Jeitun has given its name to the whole Neolithic of the northern foothills of the Kopet Dag. At the late Neolithic site of Chagylly Depe, farmers increasingly grew crops associated with irrigation in an arid environment, such as hexaploid bread wheat, which became predominant in the Chalcolithic.

During the Copper Age there was a growth of population in this region. Vadim Mikhaĭlovich Masson, who led the South Turkmenistan Complex Archaeological Expedition from 1946, sees signs of a movement from Central Iran at this time, bringing metallurgy and other innovations, but feels that the newcomers soon blended with the Jeitun farmers.[5] By contrast a re-excavation of Monjukli Depe in 2010 found a distinct break in settlement history between the late Neolithic and early Chalcolithic eras there.


(...)

The inhabitants of the BMAC were sedentary people who practised irrigation farming of wheat and barley. With their impressive material culture including monumental architecture, bronze tools, ceramics, and jewellery of semiprecious stones, the complex exhibits many of the hallmarks of civilization. The complex can be compared to proto-urban settlements in the Helmand basin at Mundigak in western Afghanistan and Shahr-i Shōkhta in eastern Iran, or at Harappa and Mohenjo-daro in the Indus Valley.

Sarianidi regards Gonur as the "capital" of the complex in Margiana throughout the Bronze Age. The palace of North Gonur measures 150 metres by 140 metres, the temple at Togolok 140 metres by 100 metres, the fort at Kelleli 3 125 metres by 125 metres, and the house of a local ruler at Adji Kui 25 metres by 25 metres. Each of these formidable structures has been extensively excavated. While they all have impressive fortification walls, gates, and buttresses, it is not always clear why one structure is identified as a temple and another as a palace. Mallory points out that the BMAC fortified settlements such as Gonur and Togolok resemble the qala, the type of fort known in this region in the historical period. They may be circular or rectangular and have up to three encircling walls. Within the forts are residential quarters, workshops and temples.


http://en.wikipedia....logical_Complex


#4    Frank Merton

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 07:22 AM

Sounds like an area of early Indo-European language and religion.  Geography and time frame seem about right too, or am I just speculating?


#5    Abramelin

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 07:24 AM

View PostFrank Merton, on 07 April 2013 - 07:22 AM, said:

Sounds like an area of early Indo-European language and religion.  Geography and time frame seem about right too, or am I just speculating?

Posts 2 and 3 do indeed point at that being the case.


#6    Frank Merton

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 07:37 AM

Yes but the point seemed buried and I wanted to bring it to the surface.


#7    Abramelin

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 01:51 PM

The Middle Asian Interaction Sphere

TRADE AND CONTACT IN THE 3RD MILLENNIUM BC

BY GREGORY L. POSSEHL



During the 1980s, excavations in Margiana by the Russian
archaeologist Viktor Sarianidi at the city of Gonur Depe,
uncovered the plan of a complex, well-defended settlement,
with rich graves and the entire range of BMAC artifacts. He
also found one very fine Indus stamp seal with an elephant.
Judging by its style, this seal was probably made in the Indus
region and brought or traded to Gonur. The site also has a
great deal of ivory, and some artifacts have an Indus “look” to
them, especially the gaming sticks or dice. Further evidence for
trade or interaction between Margiana and Middle Asia can be
seen in all the BMAC material found throughout the Greater
Indus Valley, the Iranian Plateau, and even at sites on the
southern shores of the Persian Gulf.

Since the 1960s excavations on the Iranian Plateau at such
places as Tepe Yahya, Shahr-i Sokhta, Shahdad, and Jiroft have
also added to the corpus of finds linking the Indus civilization
with the BMAC and Mesopotamia. For example, the burial of
a BMAC personage at Quetta and the French excavations at
Sibri, a BMAC settlement, indicate that BMAC peoples traveled
in the Greater Indus Valley and even took up residence
there. Further evidence has been identified by sifting through
the reports and materials from old excavations from such
places as Bampur, Khurab, Khinaman, and Nishapur in Iran,
and Kulli and Mehi in Pakistani Baluchistan.Now, more easily
recognized, we see that each of these sites produced BMAC
materials that were missed when originally published
.

http://www.pennmuseu...earch Notes.pdf


#8    Frank Merton

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 02:17 PM

My interest here is linguistic, and as far as I know the Indus Valley texts have not been translated and seem to be a linguistic isolate, neither Dravidian nor Indo-European (the language families of most of India today).  Are you implying that the Indus valley civilizations were Indo-European or only that they influenced the Indo-Europeans of central Asia?

(In which case we would presume after they declined and the Indo-Europeans themselves came in, the change would not have been as drastic as is often thought).

I have long held the view that Buddhism and the other non-theistic religions of India stem from pre-Indo-European times, while the polytheism of Hinduism came in with the Indo-Europoean "invasions" -- more likely migrations --(i.e., the similarities of it with Greek and Persian and Norse myth systems -- except lacking the unique Indian ideas of rebirth and karma).

Another somewhat unrelated idea I've long suspected -- that the Indo-Europeans while in central Asia either invented or at least put to good use the wheeled cart, and this one thing goes a long way if not all the way to explaining their surprising wide-spread presence at the dawn of history.


#9    Abramelin

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 04:49 PM

View PostFrank Merton, on 07 April 2013 - 02:17 PM, said:

Are you implying that the Indus valley civilizations were Indo-European or only that they influenced the Indo-Europeans of central Asia?

My quotes only imply contact between the two civilizations.

-

I have been thinking of a possible connection with the Hittites, who lived west of Gonur Tepe.


#10    Frank Merton

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 05:39 PM

The Hittites were definitely Indo-European.  It's funny you should mention them as there were characteristics of the old Indo-European language that the linguists had inferred should be there but could not prove, and then Hittite inscriptions were found with just those characteristics.  Gives one a certain confidence in linguistic inferences.


#11    Abramelin

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 08:19 AM

View PostFrank Merton, on 07 April 2013 - 05:39 PM, said:

The Hittites were definitely Indo-European.  It's funny you should mention them as there were characteristics of the old Indo-European language that the linguists had inferred should be there but could not prove, and then Hittite inscriptions were found with just those characteristics.  Gives one a certain confidence in linguistic inferences.

I assume you mean Hrozný. I once had his book, but someone borrowed it from me, and.... never gave it back and was gone with the wind.


#12    Abramelin

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 08:29 AM

What I found intriguing is the shape of the houses:

Posted Image


Posted Image

They almost look like bunkers.


#13    Frank Merton

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 08:32 AM

I don't know if anyone has ever tried to analyze a culture from its architecture.  If I were to do so here I would say they liked to sleep in cool dark places.


#14    Abramelin

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 08:55 AM

View PostFrank Merton, on 08 April 2013 - 08:32 AM, said:

I don't know if anyone has ever tried to analyze a culture from its architecture.  If I were to do so here I would say they liked to sleep in cool dark places.

If the climate was any similar to what it is now, they may have build their houses in this way as a protection from sandstorms.

=

Here they show a ceramic pipe for water:

Posted Image

Posted Image

http://translate.goo...varosa-20120217

This Hungarian website also suggests this civilization was maybe closely related to the Indus Valley Civilization.



Some more pics:

Posted Image

Posted Image


Another site about closely related places:

Gonur-depe

In the Karakum Desert, it was found in 1992, a vast necropolis Gonur-depe. The updated objects date from 3000 BC


http://earthistheaim...es-of-ikshvaku/

.

Edited by Abramelin, 08 April 2013 - 08:56 AM.


#15    seeder

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 06:28 PM

Good find and very impressive :tu:  Another poss reason for the style could be as effective heat insulation. Almost reminds me, a bit anyway, of the Moroccan houses used in the first star wars movie.

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