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16.05.05 22:40

TREASURES OF CITY OF TSARS AND GODS

A colorful illustrated book, “Turkmenistan, Gonur-depe: the city of tsars and gods”, by a well-known archeologist, laureate of the International prize named after Makhtumkuli, doctor of history, professor Viictor Sarianidi was published in Ashgabat. The book is the sequel to the book “Turkmenistan, Margush: ancient eastern kingdom in the old delta of the Murgab river” published two years ago. The scientist who is at present at the excavation site in Karakum district of Mary region has told the following in the interview to the State News Services of Turkmenistan (Turkmendovlethabarlary):

- I am absolutely happy that the book I have worked on for two years, while continuing the excavations of Margush monuments, has been published.

Thanks to the patronage of the head of Turkmenistan, our excavations gave birth to scientific results presented in the book. There is no need to mention that local authorities rendered an invaluable assistance to our expedition at excavation sites all the time, meeting our every need and making it easy to fulfill our mission in the Karakum desert which is a difficult place to work. I started my excavations in Margush more than thirty years ago. We could not even dream about such great help from the Government during the first years of our mission.

Drastic changes in the Government’s attitude with regard to cultural, spiritual heritage that became a stronghold of a new statehood but was once out of the sight of the government is clear evidence of the remarkable nature of Saparmurat Niyazov as a politician with his foresight and ability to choose the right priority. S.Niyazov ordered to provide us with a powerful up-to-date technical means to remove thousands of cubic meters of soil out of the excavation sites that helped to speed up excavations and expand the territory. A helicopter was at our disposal to make aero pictures of excavated monuments. And of course, all the time we felt maximum help from the authorities of the State historical and cultural conservation area “Drevni Merv (Ancient Merv)”, Ministry of Culture and TV and Radio Broadcasting authorities of Turkmenistan in sorting out all arising problems. I am also grateful to the National Center for Cultural Heritage “Miras” for making it possible to publish the book.

I hope that readers would not be disappointed with scientific results published in the book. I would like to remind you that only after we discovered ruins of the monument with a large water pool in the center close to the palace of a ruler, it became clear, and there was no doubt about it, that it was a temple of water. This temple and the earlier discovered temple of fire – a part of the so-called public meals complex and temple of sacrifice – used to form a unified ensemble of buildings of religious nature that were grouped around the tsar’s residence in Gonur-depe.

We were lucky to open the tsar’s funeral complex where you can find not only the defunct but also symbols of statehood as well: stone scepters that were used as an attribute of power in ancient times; pictures of eagles in the golden cover, golden and silver vessels, traces of rich sacrifices, mosaic on walls and hearses that still has no analogy in Central Asia. Moreover, several true masterpieces of the ancient jewellery art feature among the masses of findings. First of all, it is a small sculpture of djeiran made of gold and a sculpture of a lion cub turned in turquoise. Their size is less than a centimeter but you can see all the details of the amazing works of ancient masters of Turkmenistan through magnifying lens. The works merit being included into the Guinness Book of Records. I hope that these masterpieces will be soon displayed in the new Museum of Fine Arts in Ashgabat for they represent the earliest pieces of the art of ancestors of the Turkmen people.

I am deeply convinced that a newly published book in Turkmen, Russian and English and a small contribution of our expedition to the cause of the further research of history and culture of Turkmenistan will not only enrich the treasure of cultural values created by Turkmen for centuries but also promote the international prestige of the country that I regard as my second home.

Turkmendovlethabarlary, May 16, 2005

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