08.07.09 00:31

Latest news from the country of Margush
Legendary archaeologist Viktor Sarianidi talks about spring finds of the joint Turkmen-Russian expedition
Archaeologist Victor Sarianidi is a discoverer of the country of Margush which existed in the territory of modern Turkmenistan in the III-II century BC. The expedition under his leadership has been carrying out excavations in the ancient delta of Murgab River for more than 40 years. The expedition is digging in the capital city of this country - Gonur, the city of palaces, temples and royal burials. "There was a day that I decided that we already found everything we could in Gonur-Depe, Sarianidi confessed. However, next spring field season of 2009 proved that Gonur can present many wonderful surprises to the historical science and the entire mankind."

Last spring, specialists of the joint Turkmen-Russian expedition under the leadership of Victor Sarianidi found two new burials as the extension of the royal necropolis in the south of the city. Victor Sarianidi talked about unique works of art and household items from the Bronze Age found in Gonur Depe at a press conference held on 2 July in the Moscow House of Nationalities

According to the scientist, of all finds only few were made of precious metals. The point is that excavated royal tombs were plundered in ancient centuries, immediately after the burial. However, all finds are extremely valuable for they can tell a lot about life, art and religious rites of the Margush people.

Photographs of the finds and excavations were demonstrated at the press conference. These are unique vessels, which scientists have yet to unravel, small stones in the form of ripe pistachio that were apparently used in religious rituals of Margush people, as well as the most ancient bronze spade. Such articles can not be compared to any finds discovered earlier in Gonur or other archeological sites of the world.

In addition, last spring archaeologists discovered a mosaic composition with the most ancient in the history of mankind zoomorphic imagery - excerpts of drawings of horses, deer, fish. And in the central composition, which once decorated the facade of the imperial tomb, snakes dig their teeth into the back of two dragons' necks. Victor Sarianidi reported that for the population of Margush this story symbolized the victory of good over evil. Besides, traditional patterns - gels, which today can be seen in the famous Turkmen carpets, are clearly visible in the Margiana mosaics.

Among other items of no interest to the ancient robbers but extremely valuable for modern science there were found voluminous boxes, so-called "tabernacles", that could be those treasures for which the ashes of the deceased were harassed. The entire surface of these boxes was painted with cross-shaped compositions resembling a Maltese cross and with openwork thinnest picture reminiscent of lace. Part of bright colors used for mosaics remained intact after five thousand years. The ancient patterns are currently being restored by Turkmen specialists.

According to Victor Sarianidi, finds dug out in Gonur-Depe not only provide food for thought for specialists who study the material culture of the people of the Bronze Age but also confirm the highest level of arts and social order of Margiana in the Bronze Age and present new evidence of existence of the fifth center of civilization in the Karakum Desert, in the territory of modern Turkmenistan.

In September, Viktor Ivanovich Sarianidi will turn 80 years old. One of the journalists asked the famous archaeologist if he is going to mark the upcoming anniversary. "I hope to be in Turkmenistan on this day and lead the autumn season of excavations," he answered without thinking. According to the professor, there are still about 300 settlements of Margush country in the Turkmen land that have yet to be found and excavated.

Mariya KOLODINA