Sunday, October 18, 2009

Bactrian Gold

Archaeologist Victor Sarianidi receives highest award of Afghanistan

The prominent Russian archaeologist, Viktor Sarianidi, was honored with the medal of the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. The Ambassador of Afghanistan to Russia, Zalmay Aziz, handed the highest award to the scientist during the celebration of the Independence Day of Afghanistan in Moscow on August 19.

According to information portal "", Zalmay Aziz thanked the legendary archaeologist for the help in exploring the history of Afghanistan and wished him successes in his work to the benefit of the Russian-Afghan relations.

"I am grateful to the great country for high appreciation of my humble work," Victor Sarianidi said in turn.

It should be recalled that in 1978 the Soviet-Afghan expedition under the leadership of Victor Sarianidi found in northern Afghanistan the so-called "gold of Bactria" - about twenty thousand pieces of gold jewelry dated back to 1000 A.C. It is for this discovery that Sarianidi was once named "Shliman of the East". Gold of Afghanistan was exhibited in major museums around the world, and in 2011 the exhibition will come to Russia.

Professor, Doctor of History Victor Sarianidi is heading for over half a century the Turkmen-Russian archeological expedition in Mary province of Turkmenistan where it unearthed a large settlement of Gonur-Depe from the Bronze Age (III-II centuries B.C.), which is presumably an ancient capital of Margush country that scientists believe to be the birthplace of Zoroastrianism and the fifth center of world civilization, along with civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, India and China.

Victor Sarianidi is an honorary citizen of Turkmenistan, Honorary Ambassador of Hellenism, winner of the International Prize of Turkmenistan named after Makhtumkuli and the medal of "Civilian Valor" of Greece, as well as numerous awards and commemorative medals of various universities of the world
Tillya tepe, Tillia tepe or Tillā tapa ( Pashto and Persian: طلا تپه) or (literally "Golden Hill" or "Golden Mound") is an archaeological site in northern Afghanistan near Sheberghan, surveyed in 1979 by a Soviet-Afghan mission of archaeologists led by Victor Sarianidi, a year before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

The heavily fortified town of Yemshi-tepe, just five kilometres to the northeast of modern Sheberghan on the road to Akcha, is only half a kilometre from the now-famous necropolis of Tillia-tepe.

The hoard is a collection of about 20,000 gold ornaments that was found in six graves (five women and one man) with extremely rich jewelry, dated to around the 1st century BCE. Altogether several thousand pieces of fine jewelry were recovered, usually made of gold, turquoise and/or lapis-lazuli. The ornaments include coins, necklaces set with gems, belts, medallions and crowns. A new museum in Kabul is being planned where the Bactrian gold will eventually be kept.

Some of the most spectacular finds are presently on display until Sept. 7th, 2008 at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. From Oct. 24th, 2008 to Jan. 25th, 2009 the collection will be at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. From there they are due to be displayed from February 22 to May 17, 2009 at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and then the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York from June 23 to Sept. 20th, 2009.

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