The Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex (short BMAC), also known as the Oxus civilization, is the modern archaeological designation for a Bronze Age civilization of Central Asia, dated to c. 2400–1600 BC, located in present-day northern Afghanistan, eastern Turkmenistan, southern Uzbekistan and western Tajikistan, centred 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 Marguš, 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 settlement in the well-watered northern foothills of the Kopet Dag during the Neolithic period. This region is dotted with the multi-period hallmarks characteristic of the ancient Near East, similar to those southwest of the Kopet Dag in the Gorgan Plain in Iran. At Jeitun (or Djeitun), mud brick houses were first occupied c. 7200 BC, this early period belonging to Early Food Producing Era, was c. 7200 - 4500 BC. The inhabitants were farmers who kept herds of goats and sheep and grew wheat and barley, with origins in southwest Asia. Jeitun has given its name to the whole Neolithic period in the northern foothills of the Kopet Dag. At the late Neolithic site of Chagylly Depe, farmers increasingly grew the kinds of crops that are typically associated with irrigation in an arid environment, such as hexaploid bread wheat, which became predominant during the Chalcolithic period.
During the Copper Age, the population of this region grew. Archaeologist Vadim Mikhaĭlovich Masson, who led the South Turkmenistan Complex Archaeological Expedition from 1946, sees signs that people migrated to the region from central Iran at this time, bringing metallurgy and other innovations, but thinks that the newcomers soon blended with the Jeitun farmers. (Vadim was the son of archaeologist Mikhail Masson, who already started work in this same area previously.) 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.
Major chalcolithic settlements sprang up at Kara-Depe and Namazga-Depe. In addition, there were smaller settlements at Anau, Dashlyji, and Yassy-depe. Settlements similar to the early level at Anau also appeared further east– in the ancient delta of the river Tedzen, the site of the Geoksiur Oasis. About 3500 BC, the cultural unity of the area split into two pottery styles: colourful in the west (Anau, Kara-Depe and Namazga-Depe) and more austere in the east at Altyn-Depe and the Geoksiur Oasis settlements. This may reflect the formation of two tribal groups. It seems that around 3000 BC, people from Geoksiur migrated into the Murghab delta (where small, scattered settlements appeared) and reached further east into the Zerafshan Valley in Transoxiana. In both areas pottery typical of Geoksiur was in use. In Transoxiana they settled at Sarazm near Pendjikent. To the south the foundation layers of Shahr-i Shōkhta on the bank of the Helmand river in south-eastern Iran contained pottery of the Altyn-Depe and Geoksiur type. Thus the farmers of Iran, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan were connected by a scattering of farming settlements.
In the Early Bronze Age the culture of the Kopet Dag oases and Altyn-Depe developed a proto-urban society. This corresponds to level IV at Namazga-Depe. Altyn-Depe was a major centre even then. Pottery was wheel-turned. Grapes were grown. The height of this urban development was reached in the Middle Bronze Age c. 2300 BC, corresponding to level V (c. 2400-1900 BC) at Namazga-Depe. It is this Bronze Age culture which has been given the BMAC name.
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 civilisation. The complex can be compared to proto-urban settlements in the Helmand basin at Mundigak in western Afghanistan and Shahr-e Sukhteh in eastern Iran, or at Harappa and Mohenjo-daro in the Indus Valley.
Models of two-wheeled carts from c. 3000 BC found at Altyn-Depe are the earliest complete evidence of wheeled transport in Central Asia, though model wheels have come from contexts possibly somewhat earlier. Judging by the type of harness, carts were initially pulled by oxen, or a bull. However camels were domesticated within the BMAC. A model of a cart drawn by a camel of c. 2200 BC was found at Altyn-Depe.
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 qila, 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.
The people of the BMAC culture were very proficient at working in a variety of metals including bronze, copper, silver, and gold. This is attested through the many metal artefacts found throughout the sites.
Extensive irrigation systems have been discovered at the Geoksiur Oasis.
The discovery of a single tiny stone seal (known as the "Anau seal") with geometric markings from the BMAC site at Anau in Turkmenistan in 2000 led some to claim that the Bactria-Margiana complex had also developed writing, and thus may indeed be considered a literate civilisation. It bears five markings which are similar to Chinese "small seal" characters. The only match to the Anau seal is a small jet seal of almost identical shape from Niyä (near modern Minfeng) along the southern Silk Road in Xinjiang, originally thought to be from the Western Han dynasty but now thought to date to 700 BC.
BMAC materials have been found in the Indus Valley Civilisation, on the Iranian Plateau, and in the Persian Gulf. Finds within BMAC sites provide further evidence of trade and cultural contacts. They include an Elamite-type cylinder seal and a Harappan seal stamped with an elephant and Indus script found at Gonur-depe. The relationship between Altyn-Depe and the Indus Valley seems to have been particularly strong. Among the finds there were two Harappan seals and ivory objects. The Harappan settlement of Shortugai in Northern Afghanistan on the banks of the Amu Darya probably served as a trading station.
There is evidence of sustained contact between the BMAC and the Eurasian steppes to the north, intensifying c. 2000 BC. In the delta of the Amu Darya where it reaches the Aral Sea, its waters were channelled for irrigation agriculture by people whose remains resemble those of the nomads of the Andronovo culture. This is interpreted as nomads settling down to agriculture, after contact with the BMAC, known as the Tazabagyab culture. About 1800 BC, the walled BMAC centres decreased sharply in size. Each oasis developed its own types of pottery and other objects. Also pottery of the Tazabagyab-Andronovo culture to the north appeared widely in the Bactrian and Margian countryside. Many BMAC strongholds continued to be occupied and Tazabagyab-Andronovo coarse incised pottery occurs within them (along with the previous BMAC pottery) as well as in pastoral camps outside the mudbrick walls. In the highlands above the Bactrian oases in Tajikistan, kurgan cemeteries of the Vaksh and Bishkent type appeared with pottery that mixed elements of the late BMAC and Tazabagyab-Andronovo traditions. In southern Bactrian sites like Sappali Tepe too, increasing links with the Andronovo culture are seen. During the period 1700 - 1500 BCE, metal artifacts from Sappali Tepe derive from the Tazabagyab-Andronovo culture.
The Bactria-Margiana complex has attracted attention as a candidate for those looking for the material counterparts to the Indo-Iranians (Aryans), a major linguistic branch that split off from the Proto-Indo-Europeans. Sarianidi himself advocates identifying the complex as Indo-Iranian, describing it as the result of a migration from southwestern Iran. Bactria–Margiana material has been found at Susa, Shahdad, and Tepe Yahya in Iran, but Lamberg-Karlovsky does not see this as evidence that the complex originated in southeastern Iran. "The limited materials of this complex are intrusive in each of the sites on the Iranian Plateau as they are in sites of the Arabian peninsula."
A significant section of the archaeologists are more inclined to see the culture as begun by farmers in the Near Eastern Neolithic tradition, but infiltrated by Indo-Iranian speakers from the Andronovo culture in its late phase, creating a hybrid. In this perspective, Proto-Indo-Aryan developed within the composite culture before moving south into the Indian subcontinent. As James P. Mallory phrased it:
It has become increasingly clear that if one wishes to argue for Indo-Iranian migrations from the steppe lands south into the historical seats of the Iranians and Indo-Aryans that these steppe cultures were transformed as they passed through a membrane of Central Asian urbanism. The fact that typical steppe wares are found on BMAC sites and that intrusive BMAC material is subsequently found further to the south in Iran, Afghanistan, Nepal, India and Pakistan, may suggest then the subsequent movement of Indo-Iranian-speakers after they had adopted the culture of the BMAC.
According to recent studies BMAC was not a primary contributor to later South-Asian genetics.
As argued by Michael Witzel and Alexander Lubotsky, there is a proposed substratum in Proto-Indo-Iranian which can be plausibly identified with the original language of the BMAC. Moreover, Lubotsky points out a larger number of words apparently borrowed from the same language, which are only attested in Indo-Aryan and therefore evidence of a substratum in Vedic Sanskrit. He explains this by proposing that Indo-Aryan speakers probably formed the vanguard of the movement into south-central Asia and many of the BMAC loanwords which entered Iranian may have been mediated through Indo-Aryan.:306 Michael Witzel points out that the borrowed vocabulary includes words from agriculture, village and town life, flora and fauna, ritual and religion, so providing evidence for the acculturation of Indo-Iranian speakers into the world of urban civilisation.
Narasimhan et al. 2018 analyzed BMAC skeletons from the Bronze Age sites of Bustan, Dzharkutan, Gonur Tepe, and Sapalli Tepe. The male specimens belonged to haplogroup E1b1a (1/18), E1b1b (1/18), G (2/18), J* (2/18), J1 (1/18), J2 (4/18), L (2/18), R* (1/18), R1b (1/18), R2 (2/18), and T (1/18).
Afghan Turkestan (Persian/Uzbek/Turkmen/Pashto: ترکستان افغانستان) is a region in northern Afghanistan, on the border with the former Soviet republics of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. In the 19th century there was a province in Afghanistan named Turkestan Province until abolished by Abdur Rahman, and was centred on Mazari Sharif and included territory in the modern provinces of Balkh, Kunduz, Jowzjan, Sar-e Pol, and Faryab. The whole territory, from the junction of the Kokcha river with the Amu Darya on the north-east to the province of Herat on the south-west, was some 500 miles (800 km) in length, with an average width from the Russian frontier to the Hindu Kush of 114 miles (183 km). It thus comprised about 57,000 square miles (150,000 km2) or roughly two-ninths of the former Kingdom of Afghanistan.Ahar–Banas culture
The Ahar culture, also known as the Banas culture is a Chalcolithic archaeological culture on the banks of Ahar River of southeastern Rajasthan state in India, lasting from c. 3000 to 1500 BCE, contemporary and adjacent to the Indus Valley Civilization. Situated along the Banas and Berach Rivers, as well as the Ahar River, the Ahar–Banas people were exploiting the copper ores of the Aravalli Range to make axes and other artefacts. They were sustained on a number of crops, including wheat and barley.Ancient history of Afghanistan
Archaeological exploration of the pre-Islamic period of Afghanistan began in Afghanistan in earnest after World War II and proceeded until the late 1970s when the nation was invaded by the Soviet Union. Archaeologists and historians suggest that humans were living in Afghanistan at least 50,000 years ago, and that farming communities of the region were among the earliest in the world. Urbanized culture has existed in the land from between 3000 and 2000 BC. Artifacts typical of the Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze, and Iron ages have been found inside Afghanistan.After the Indus Valley Civilization which stretched up to northeast Afghanistan, it was inhabited by the Iranic tribes and controlled by the Medes until about 500 BC when Darius the Great (Darius I) marched with his Persian army to make it part of the Achaemenid Empire. In 330 BC, Alexander the Great of Macedonia invaded the land after defeating Darius III of Persia in the Battle of Gaugamela. Much of Afghanistan became part of the Seleucid Empire followed by the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom. Seleucus I Nicator was defeated by Chandragupta Maurya and gave his daughter in peace treaty. The land was inhabited by various tribes and ruled by many different kingdoms for the next two millenniums. Before the arrival of Islam in the 7th century, there were a number of religions practiced in ancient Afghanistan, including Zoroastrianism, Surya worship, Paganism, Hinduism and Buddhism. The Kaffirstan region, in the Hindu Kush, was not converted until the 19th century.Early Indians
Early Indians: The Story of Our Ancestors and Where We Came From is a 2018 non-fiction book written by journalist Tony Joseph, that focuses on ancestors of people that live in South Asia. Tony Joseph goes 65,000 years into the past – when anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens), first made their way from Africa into the Indian subcontinent. This book relies on research findings from six major disciplines - history, archaeology, linguistics, population genetics, philology and epigraphy, including path-breaking ancient DNA research of recent years. The book also relies on the extensive study titled ‘The Genomic Formation of Central and South Asia, co-authored by 92 scientists from around the world and co-directed by geneticist David Reich of Harvard Medical School, in which ancient DNA was used.Etymology of cannabis
The plant name Cannabis is derived originally from a Scythian or Thracian word, which loaned into Persian as kanab, then into Greek as κάνναβις (kánnabis) and subsequently into Latin as cannabis. The English hemp (Old English hænep) may be an early loan (predating Grimm's Law) from the same Scythian source.Gayawal Brahmin
Gayawal Brahmins (also known as Bramha Kalpit Brahmins or Gayawala Pandas) is a class of Hindu Brahmin priests of Bihar whose members follow the Dvaita philosophy propounded by Madhvacharya and are followers of Uttaradi Matha. The Gayawal are the main temple priests at the great pilgrimage center of Gaya.Among the sacred specialists of Gaya, they are the most specialized group of priests, who hold a traditional monopoly over the performance of shraddha rituals on the Ghats of Gaya. The Gayawala thrive on the highest ladder of the caste hierarchy, and even the Brahmins of the highest rank worship their feet when they come to perform the sraddha ceremony of their fathers and forefathers.Gonur Tepe
Gonur Tepe is an archaeological site located about 60 km north of Mary (ancient Merv), Turkmenistan consisting of a large early Bronze Age settlement. It is the "capital" or major settlement of the Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC) dated from 2200-1700 BCE.The site was discovered in the 1950s by Greek-Russian archaeologist Viktor Sarianidi, and excavated in the 1970s. Sarianidi uncovered a palace, a fortified mud-brick enclosure, and temples with fire altars which he associated with the Zoroastrian religion.
He also found what appears to be the boiler for the ritual drink soma, which is mentioned in the Rigveda and also in the Avesta as haoma. Sarianidi says he also found dishes with traces of cannabis, poppy and ephedra. According to Sarianidi, this discovery strengthens the theory that these were the ingredients of soma. Mallory (1997) points out that the BMAC fortified settlements such as Gonur and Togolok resemble the qila, 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.
There were increasing incursions of nomadic encampments of the Andronovo culture at the site during the period 1800-1500 BCE. According to Lamberg-Karlovsky, presence of Andronovo pottery at Gonur, the characteristic ceramics of the Eurasian steppes where the modern horse was domesticated, certainly implies that the horse was known to the BMAC. However, Sarianidi disregards the steppe connection for the presence of the horse in BMAC.The northern part of the complex had a central citadel-like structure about 100 by 180 m (330 by 590 ft) in size. A southern complex is about 1.5 hectares in size. Gonur is among the largest ruins in the Morghab delta region; over 150 ancient settlements have been found there, on a total area of some about 55 hectares, dating between the early Neolithic (7th millennium BC)
and the early Bronze Age (2500-1700 BCE).The site was most likely abandoned after the course of the Murghab River shifted to the west.Haplogroup L-M20
Haplogroup L-M20 is a human Y-DNA haplogroup, which is defined by SNPs M11, M20, M61 and M185. As a secondary descendant of haplogroup K and a primary branch of haplogroup LT, haplogroup L currently has the alternative phylogenetic name of K1a, and is a sibling of haplogroup T (a.k.a. K1b).
The presence of L-M20 has been observed at varying levels throughout South Asia, peaking in populations native to Balochistan (28%), Northern Afghanistan (25%) and Southern India (19%). The clade also occurs in Tajikistan and Anatolia, as well as at lower frequencies in Iran. It has also been present for millennia at very low levels in the Caucasus, Europe and Central Asia. The subclade L2 (L-L595) has been found in Europe and Western Asia, but is extremely rare.Kingdom of Balkhara
Kingdom of Balkhara is the subject of a fringe theory on the originating homeland of the Bulgar people. It is popularised by some Bulgarian historians (for example: Georgi Bakalov, Petar Dobrev, Ian Mladjov) to have been the earliest known state of the Bulgars, situated in the upper course of Oxus River (present Amu Darya), and the foothills and valleys of Hindu Kush and Pamir Mountains (ancient Mount Imeon). Peter Dobrev places the date of the kingdom around the 12th century BC.The theory is based on the presumed relationship between the Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex and the Bulgars.Margiana
Margiana (Greek: Μαργιανή Margianḗ, Old Persian: Marguš, Middle Persian: Marv) is a historical region centred on the oasis of Merv and was a minor satrapy within the Achaemenid satrapy of Bactria, and a province within its successors, the Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian empires.
It was located in the valley of the Murghab River which has its sources in the mountains of Afghanistan, and passes through Murghab District in modern Afghanistan, and then reaches the oasis of Merv in modern Turkmenistan. Margiana bordered Parthia to the south-west, Aria in the south, Bactria in the east and Sogdia in the north.Oxus valley
Oxus valley may refer to:
The Oxus civilization known as the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological ComplexSakaldwipiya
Sakaldwipiya Brahmins (or Bhojaka Brahmins or Maga Brahmins) is a class of Hindu Brahmin priests and Ayurveda teachers (acharyas) and practitioners, with significant concentrations of their populations occurring in Northern India. The name can also be spelled as Shakdvipi, Shakdwipi, Shakdweepi, Shakdvipiya, Shakdwipiya, Shakdweepiya, Shakadwipi, and Sakadwipi.Sanjan (Khorasan)
Sanjan is an ancient city on the southern edge of the Kara-kum Desert, in the vicinity of the historically eminent oasis-city of Merv. Topographically, Sanjan is located in the Greater Khorasan region of Central Asia. Politically, Sanjan is in the present-day Mary Province of Turkmenistan.
Together with Merv, Sanjan was an important stopping place and center of trade on the southern route of the Silk road. Sanjan gained further importance following the Seleucid establishment of Merv as the principal city of the Margiana province, a status it also held during the subsequent Parthian (250 BCE–226 CE) and Sassanid (226-651 CE) eras.
As a site in the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex, Sanjan is subject to the hypothesis that the Indo-Iranians, a major branch that split off from the Proto-Indo-Europeans, originated there. (see also: BMAC:Indo-Iranian hypothesis)
According to the Qissa-i Sanjan, an epic poem from around 1600, the Zoroastrians who fled to the Indian subcontinent in the 8th or 9th century, to escape religious persecution from Islamic invaders, established the settlement of Sanjan (Gujarat). These Zoroastrians, who were at first called Sanjanas or Khorasanis (today, the descendants of these and later Zoroastrian emigrants are collectively known as the Parsis), are thought to have named the Indian west-coast settlement after the city of their origin.
Sanjan must not be confused with the phonetically similar Iranian province Zanjan, or its capital, the city of Zanjan.Substrata in the Vedic language
Vedic has a number of linguistic features which are alien to most other Indo-European languages. Prominent examples include: phonologically, the introduction of retroflexes, which alternate with dentals; morphologically, the formation of gerunds; and syntactically, the use of a quotative marker (iti). Philologists attribute such features, as well as the presence of non-Indo-European vocabulary, to a local substratum of languages encountered by Indo-Aryan peoples in Central Asia and within the Indian subcontinent, including the Dravidian languages.Scholars have identified a substantial body of loanwords in the earliest Indian texts, including clear evidence of Non-Indo-Aryan elements (such as -s- following -u- in Rigvedic busa). While some loanwords are from Dravidian, and other forms are traceable to Munda or Proto-Burushaski, the bulk have no sensible basis in any of these families, suggesting a source in one or more lost languages. The discovery that some loan words from one of these lost sources had also been preserved in the earliest Iranian texts, and also in Tocharian, convinced Michael Witzel and Alexander Lubotsky that the source lay in Central Asia and could be associated with the Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC). Another lost language is that of the Indus Valley Civilization, which Witzel initially labelled Para-Munda, but later the Kubhā-Vipāś substrate.Sutkagan Dor
Sutkagan Dor (or Sutkagen Dor) is the westernmost known archaeological site of the Indus Valley Civilization. It is located about 480 km west of Karachi on the Makran coast near Gwadar, close to the Iranian border, in Pakistan's Baluchistan Province. The site is near the western bank of the Dasht River and its confluence with a smaller stream, known as the Gajo Kaur. It was a smaller settlement with substantial stone walls and gateways.The Orion (book)
The Orion, or Researches Into the Antiquity of the Vedas is a book on sociology based on astronomy in the ancient texts of Aryans by Bal Gangadhar Tilak, a mathematician turned astronomer, historian, journalist, philosopher and political leader of India.Togolok
Togolok is an archaeological site in the Murghab Delta, Turkmenistan, located about 10–15 km south of Gonur (or about 40 km north of Mary, Turkmenistan).
Most notably, Togolok 21 is an Indo-Iranian temple and fortress dated to the first half of the 2nd millennium BC, belonging to the late phase of the Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC).Ulug Depe
Ulug Depe is an ancient Bronze Age site in the foothills of the Kopet Dag Mountains in the Karakum Desert of Kaka District (Kaahka) in the Ahal Province of south-eastern Turkmenistan. It covers around 13 acres (53,000 m2) and lies on a mound at a height of about 30 meters.Viktor Sarianidi
Viktor Ivanovich Sarianidi or Victor Sarigiannides (Russian: Ви́ктор Ива́нович Сариани́ди; Greek: Βίκτωρ Σαρηγιαννίδης; September 23, 1929 – December 22, 2013) was a Soviet archaeologist. He discovered the remains of a Bronze Age culture in the Karakum Desert in 1976. The culture came to be known as the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex.
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