The doubts about the treasure of oxus

Composed of one hundred eighty pieces of gold and silver, the treasure of Oxus is the most important goldsmith's set that is preserved from the Aquemenida period (550-330 to.C.).It is called this because of the place where it is believed that it was found, on the shore of the Oxus River (today Amu Daria), located in the old Bactrian region, current Tayikistan.

Este territorio del AsiaCentral, por donde pasaba la ruta comercial que comunicaba elMediterráneo con la India y Extremo Oriente, fue incorporado al Imperio por su fundador, el reyCiro II el Grande, probablemente durante la campaña militar que llevó a cabo entre 545 y 540 a.C.From that moment on, as mentioned in the registration of Behistún, the Bactrian region became a satrapia, or province, more of the empire.

Rugged trip

Most of the Oxus Treasury is located in the BritishMuseum, except for some pieces that are guarded at the Victoria and AlbertMuseum in London.The story of how it reached England we owe it to or.M. Dalton, conservador delMuseo Británico que en 1905 publicó la monografía The Treasure of the Oxus.

In it Dalton says that the treasure was found by some locals on the north shore of the river between 1876 and 1880.That last year, three merchants from the Emirate of Bujará, in the current Uzbekistan.Upon learning the existence of the treasure, they bought it and continued on their way to British India.

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The merchants continued to the city of Rawalpindi, an important shopping center located in the current Pakistan.There they sold the rest of the treasure in different bazaars. Tiempo después, entre 1881 y 1883, las piezas fueron compradas y recopiladas por dos arqueólogos británicos: AlexanderCunningham, director del Servicio Arqueológico de la India, y Augustus Wollaston Franks, conservador delMuseo Británico.The latter bought his part to the first and, at his death in 1897, he donated the entire treasure to the institution in which he worked.

Its uncertain origin

Where does Oxus treasure come from?Not having been found in an archaeological excavation, the answer is complicated.There are mainly two theories.The first and oldest relates it to the Takht-i Kuwad site, on the northern oxus shore, a populated area since ancient times.The river has already taken a quarter of the site, so it is believed that the Treasury pieces could also have dragged as far as the inhabitants of the area found them.

Las dudas sobre el tesoro del Oxus

A second theory connects it with a more recent site, that of Takht-i Sangin.Located a few kilometers from the previous one, it was excavated by Soviet archaeologists between 1976 and 1991.There was a fortified citadel of the end of the Aquemenida era, and inside, a temple, or Ayadana.Within the sanctuary there were more than five thousand objects, possibly offerings, dated between the centuries..C.and III d.C.

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La voz más crítica al respecto es la de Oscar WhiteMuscarella, delMET, elMuseoMetropolitano de Arte de Nueva York.This veteran archaeologist criticized in an article in The Times in 2003 what he called "Bazar Archeology", and questioned so much the narration of the discovery of the treasure (calling her from merchants fantasies) as her unitary character and her complete authenticity.

Muscarella doubted, above all, of the votive plates, which he considered suspicious, given his rough finish and the difficulty in putting them in relation to other findings of the Aquemenide period. ElMuseo Británico se defendió aportando pruebas científicas y análisis históricos y aludiendo a la aparición de nuevos paralelismos que refuerzan su autenticidad.

Treasury parts

In addition to jewelry, dishes, miniatures, statuettes and votive plates, the remains of a gold sheath for akinakes (Persian sword) decorated in relief with lions hunting scenes have also been preserved.Some authors also include as part of the Treasury a series of coins (from two hundred to a thousand five hundred, according to the sources) belonging to various times.However, this connection is not clear.

Among the many jewels that have been preserved are pending, rings, bracelets, torques, bracelets and attachions such as plates or medallions. De entre todas ellas destacan dos: los mencionados brazaletes de oro que se pueden ver en elMuseo Victoria and Albert.They are two jewels of a great technical perfection composed of several parts that were worked separately and then sold.The most characteristic are his ruling in the form of León Grifo and the presence of several alveoli that were used to embed enamels and precious stones.This type of bracelets were one of the gifts most appreciated by Persian elites.

As for the dishes, it is made up of several gold and silver vessels (smooth or with the eager);a magnificent gold jug, with a grooved body and handle ended in the head of León;And a golden fish with a hole in the mouth, which could have served as a container to store oil or, since it has a hook on the left fin, as part of a pendant.It is known by the Greek texts that Persian kings and aristocrats usually used this type of luxury dishes at the table.In fact, they only served in ceramic dishes when they wanted to offend a diner.

Regarding the miniatures, two pieces of gold are preserved that are among the most famous Treasury of Oxus.They represent two light cars pulled by horses.The most complete measures 18.8 cm long and is composed of a car with large wheels pulled by four media or "neseos" horses (raised in the Nesea plain and famous for its resistance and speed).The cabin is decorated on its front with a head of Bes (Egyptian deity incorporated by the Persians as protector of young people), and inside it houses two human figures dressed in the Medo style (with tunic and hood).

Cars like the one represented in the treasure of Oxus were usually used as transport or for war

This type of light car, very similar to those that can be seen in Persepolis's reliefs, was a very high social category vehicle.It was usually used as transport and, to a lesser extent, for war.The function of these miniatures is not known, but the fact that Bes's head appears has fed the theory that they were elaborated as exvote for a child.

The statuettes were used as votive offerings to deposit in temples.This practice, very common in the ancient world, served to thank a deity (ex -vis), earn its favor or as a sign of respect.There are different size (5 to 29 cm) and different physiognomy (bearded and dressed in the Persian or imberbes and naked style in the Greek way), all made in gold and silver.

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Are these pieces all that complete the treasure of Oxus?According to Igor Pichikyan, archaeologist of the Takht-i Sangin site, no.Some miss, those that make up the one that has been called "Second Treasury of Oxus".A set of objects, most gold and silver plates and coins, which would supposedly be the ones that did not return thieves when they were arrested.

Este “segundo tesoro” salió al mercado de antigüedades durante los años noventa y fue adquirido por elMuseoMiho de Japón.In 2002 it was presented at an exhibition called "Treasures of the old botria".Reality or simple advertising maneuver?

This article was published at number 576 of the Magazine Historia y Vida.Do you have something to contribute?Write us to