PERIOD: Circa end of 2nd Millennium - 3rd Millennium BC
MATERIAL: Black stone
DIMENSIONS: Height 20 cm
PRICE: 3,300 euros
PROVENANCE: Private English collection 1970.
STATE OF CONSERVATION: Intact.
Votive idol of ovoid form with a flat base with two holes in the upper part.
The Bactria culture is the modern archaeological designation for a Bronze Age civilization of Central Asia, dated circa 2200-1700 BC, located in present day northern Afghanistan, eastern Turkmenistan, southern Uzbekistan and western Tajikistan. The Bactria-Margiana site was discovered and named by the Uzbek archaeologist Viktor Sarianidi in 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 Margu, the capital of which was Merv, in modern-day southeastern Turkmenistan.
With its impressive cultural material including monumental architecture, bronze tools, pottery and jewellery of semi-precious stones, the Bactro-Margiana Complex shows many of the hallmarks of civilization. Many carved stone seals were produced in this culture. Sculpturally, the idols, both the stylized ones (in disc form or cylindrical) and the anthropomorphic ones, many variations of which have been found, are the most outstanding works of art. Their meaning is still unknown, particularly in the case of the geometric ones.