Rare specimen of Parthian culture discovered in Turkmenistan
One of the greatest monuments of ancient history, Nissa, the capital of once powerful Parthian kingdom spreading from the banks of Euphrates river to the Indian Ocean, stands 15 km to the west of the Turkmen capital, Ashgabat, in the foothills of Kopetdag mountains.
The city of Nissa was built in the II century A.D. in the days of the Parthian king, Mithridates of the Arshakid dynasty, mentioned in the chronicles by Mithridatakart.
The archaeological expedition of the Turin center of archaeological researches (Italy) headed by Dr. Carlo Lippolisa has been excavating one of the main temples of Old Nissa, a facility with round hall, for 14 years.
During excavations of this unique construction, built over 2000 years ago, a number of important scientific findings were made. In particular, the Italian expedition found a rear specimen of Parthian sculpture, the head of king Mithridat I.
According to the agreement with the National Museum of Turkmenistan, the Italian archaeologists also launched a separate programme of restoration, studying and documentation of famous Ritons made of ivory as well as sculptures made of marble and clay.
At Old Nissa, archaeologists also succeeded in digging out another four-footed hall in the composition of this temple complex, which was previously completely unknown to them, and discover a monumental ayvan decorated with beautiful stone plates with relief ornament.
The Turin center of archaeological researches (Italy) intends to start excavations of one more site in the territory of Old Nissa next year that promise new discoveries of works of ancient art and architecture and new information on history of Parthia.
In the ancient times, Nissa consisted of two settlements that archaeologists call Old and New Nissa. The first settlement was a cult complex with holy temples of God-like representatives of the Arshakid dynasty as opposed to day-to-day city life of New Nissa where useful arts and trade flourished. The Great Silk Road caravans ran through New Nissa too.
A highly conditional division of Nissa into the new and old settlements is a result of events of subsequent history. After the break up of the Parthian kingdom in the III century A.D., Old Nissa as an abode of the Parthian kings and priests was demolished, and New Nissa that survived all conquests existed until XIX century when the last citizens left this great and tragic city which turned into ruins.
IRNA (Tehran), 01.07.2005