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Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex

Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex
The extent of the BMAC (according to the Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture)
Female statuette, an example of a "Bactrian princess"; late 3rd–early 2nd millennium BC; steatite or chlorite and alabaster; 9 × 9.4 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City)
Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex is located in Continental Asia
Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex
Shown within Continental Asia
LocationSouthern Central Asia, mainly in modern-day Turkmenistan, northern Afghanistan, and southern Uzbekistan
RegionMargiana, Bactria
Site notes
Excavation datesViktor Sarianidi (late 1960s to 1979)
Archaeological cultures associated with Indo-Iranian migrations (after EIEC). The Andronovo, BMAC and Yaz cultures have often been associated with Indo-Iranian migrations. The GGC (Swat), Cemetery H, Copper Hoard and PGW cultures are candidates for cultures associated with Indo-Aryan migrations.

The Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC) is the modern archaeological designation for a particular Middle Bronze Age civilisation of southern Central Asia, also known as the Oxus Civilization. The civilisation's urban phase or Integration Era,[1] was dated in 2010 by Sandro Salvatori to c. 2400–1950 BC,[2][3] but a different view is held by Nadezhda A. Duvoba and Bertille Lyonnet, c. 2250–1700 BC.[3][4]

Though it may be called the "Oxus civilization", apparently centred on the upper Amu Darya (Oxus River) in Bactria, most of the BMAC's urban sites are actually located in Margiana (modern Turkmenistan) on the Murghab river delta, and in the Kopet Dagh mountain range. There are a few later (c. 1950–1450 BC) sites in northern Bactria, currently known as southern Uzbekistan,[5] but they are mostly graveyards belonging to the BMAC-related Sapalli culture.[6][7][8] A single BMAC site, known as Dashli, lies in southern Bactria, current territory of northern Afghanistan.[9] Sites found further east, in southwestern Tajikistan, though contemporary with the main BMAC sites in Margiana, are only graveyards, with no urban developments associated with them.[10]

The civilisation was named BMAC by the Soviet archaeologist Viktor Sarianidi in 1976, during the period (1969–1979) when he was excavating in northern Afghanistan.[11] Sarianidi's excavations from the late 1970s onward revealed numerous monumental structures in many sites, fortified by impressive walls and gates. Reports on the BMAC were mostly confined to Soviet journals.[12] A journalist from The New York Times wrote in 2001 that during the years of the Soviet Union, the findings were largely unknown to the West until Sarianidi's work began to be translated in the 1990s.[13] However, some publications by Soviet authors, like Masson, Sarianidi, Atagarryev, and Berdiev, had been available to the West, translated in the first half of 1970s, slightly before Sarianidi labelled the findings as BMAC.[14][15][16][17]

Origin and chronology

Italian archaeologists, like Massimo Vidale and Dennys Frenez, support Sandro Salvatori's hypothesis that Namazga V is the beginning of the ultimate urban phase called BMAC, belonging to the Integration Era (c. 2400–1950 BC).[18] On the other hand, Russian and French archaeologists Nadezhda Dubova and Bertille Lyonnet consider there was a gap between the end of Namazga III phase and the beginning of BMAC in Margiana, and that most of the sites both in Margiana and Bactria were founded on virgin soil only around 2250 BC lasting until 1700 BC.[19]


The region was first named Bakhdi in Old Persian, which then formed the Persian satrapy of Marguš (perhaps from the Sumerian term Marhasi),[20] the capital of which was Merv, in modern-day southeastern Turkmenistan. It was then called Bāxtriš in Middle Persian, and Baxl in New Persian. The region was also mentioned in ancient Sanskrit texts as बाह्लीक or Bāhlīka. The modern term Bactria is derived from the Ancient Greek: Βακτριανή (Romanized Greek term: Baktrianē) (modern Balkh), which came from the Old Persian term.

Early Food-Producing Era

There is archaeological evidence of settlement in the well-watered northern foothills of the Kopet Dag during the Neolithic period at Jeitun (or Djeitun). In this region, mud brick houses were first occupied during the Early Food-Producing Era, also known as Jeitun Neolithic, from c. 7200 to 4600 BC.[21] The inhabitants were farmers with origins in southwest Asia, who kept herds of goats and sheep and grew wheat and barley.[22] Jeitun has given its name to the whole Neolithic period in the northern foothills of the Kopet Dag. At the late Neolithic site of Chagylly Depe, farmers increasingly grew the kinds of crops that are typically associated with irrigation in an arid environment, such as hexaploid bread wheat, which became predominant during the Chalcolithic period.[23] This region is dotted with the multi-period hallmarks characteristic of the ancient Near East, similar to those southwest of the Kopet Dag in the Gorgan Plain in Iran.[24]

Regionalization Era

The Regionalization Era begins in Anau IA with a pre-Chalcolithic phase also in the Kopet Dag piedmont region from 4600 to 4000 BC, then the Chalcolithic period develops from 4000 to 2800 BC in Namazga I-III, Ilgynly Depe, and Altyn Depe.[21] During this Copper Age, the population of the region grew. Archaeologist Vadim Mikhaĭlovich Masson, who led the South Turkmenistan Complex Archaeological Expedition of 1946, saw signs that people migrated to the region from central Iran at this time, bringing metallurgy and other innovations, but thought that the newcomers soon blended with the Jeitun farmers.[25] (Vadim was the son of archaeologist Mikhail Masson, who had previously already started work in this same area.) By contrast, a re-excavation of Monjukli Depe in 2010 found a distinct break in settlement history between the late neolithic and early chalcolithic eras there.[26][27]

Altyn-Depe location on the modern Middle East map as well as location of other Eneolithic cultures (Harappa and Mohenjo-daro).

Major chalcolithic settlements sprang up at Kara-Depe and Namazga-Depe. In addition, there were smaller settlements at Anau, Dashlyji, and Yassy-depe. Settlements similar to the early level at Anau also appeared further east– in the ancient delta of the river Tedzen, the site of the Geoksiur Oasis. About 3500 BC, the cultural unity of the area split into two pottery styles: colourful in the west (Anau, Kara-Depe and Namazga-Depe) and more austere in the east at Altyn-Depe and the Geoksiur Oasis settlements. This may reflect the formation of two tribal groups. It seems that around 3000 BC, people from Geoksiur migrated into the Murghab delta (where small, scattered settlements appeared) and reached further east into the Zerafshan Valley in Transoxiana. In both areas pottery typical of Geoksiur was in use. In Transoxiana they settled at Sarazm near Pendjikent. To the south the foundation layers of Shahr-i Shōkhta on the bank of the Helmand River in south-eastern Iran contained pottery of the Altyn-Depe and Geoksiur type. Thus the farmers of Iran, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan were connected by a scattering of farming settlements.[25]

Late Regionalization Era

In Kopet Dag region, at Altyn Depe, the Namazga III phase lasted (c. 3200–2800 BC) and showed a late Chalcolithic culture, at the beginning of Late Regionalization Era.[28] In the Early Bronze Age, at the end of Late Regionalization Era (2800 to 2400 BC),[21] the culture of the Kopet Dag oases in Altyn-Depe site developed a proto-urban society. This corresponds to phase IV at Namazga-Depe. Altyn-Depe was a major centre even then. Pottery was wheel-turned. Grapes were grown.[citation needed]

Integration Era: Oxus Civilization

The height of the urban development was reached in the Middle Bronze Age, also known as Integration Era, mainly in three regions, Kopet Dag piedmont, Margiana, and southern Bactria, as well as some cemetery remains recently found in southwestern Tajikistan.

Kopet Dag, Namazga V phase

BMAC's urban period begins in the Kopet Dag piedmont, as per Massimo Vidale, corresponding to Namazga-Depe level V (c. 2400-2000 BC).[21][25] Namazga Depe reaching c. 52 hectares and holding maybe 17–20,000 inhabitants, and Altyn Depe with its maximum size of c. 25 hectares and 7–10,000 inhabitants, were the two big cities in Kopet Dag piedmont.[29] This urban development is considered to have lasted, not from 2400 BC, but from c. 2250 to 1700 BC by Lyonnet and Dubova's recent publication.[3]

Margiana, Kelleli phase

Identification of the first large settling in Margiana was possible through excavations at Kelleli 3 and 4, and these are the type sites of Kelleli phase.[30] Massimo Vidale (2017) considers that the Kelleli phase was characterised by the appearance of the first palatial compounds from 2400 to 2000 BC.[21] Kelleli is located around 40 km northwest of Gonur; featuring Kelleli 3 with four hectares, characterised by towers in a double perimetral wall, four equal entrances, and houses in the southwest of the site. Kelleli 4 settlement is around three hectares, with the same characteristics in its wall.[31] Sandro Salvatori (1998) commented that Kelleli phase began sightly later than Namazga V period.[32]

Margiana, Gonur phase

Gonur phase was considered, by Sarianidi, as a southward movement of the previous Kelleli phase people.[32] In the ancient region of Margiana, the site Gonur Depe is the largest of all settlements in this period and is located at the delta of Murghab river in southern Turkmenistan, with an area of around 55 hectares. An almost elliptical fortified complex, known as Gonur North includes the so-called "Monumental Palace", other minor buildings, temples and ritual places, together with the "Royal Necropolis", and water reservoirs, all dated by Italian archaeologists from around 2400 to 1900 BC.[33] However French and Russian scholars like Lyonnet and Dubova date it to c. 2250-1700 BC.[3]

Southern Bactria

In southern Bactria, northern Afghanistan, the site Dashly 3 is regarded to be also from Middle Bronze Age to Late Bronze Age (2300–1700 BC) occupation,[34] but its beginning is probably later than 2300 BC, although earlier than 2000 BC, if new datings for BMAC by Lyonnet and Dubova are taken into account.[35] The old Dashly 3 complex, sometimes identified as a palace, is a fortified rectangular 88 m x 84 m compound. The square building had massive double outer walls and in the middle of each wall was a protruding salient composed of a T-shaped corridor flanked by two L-shaped corridors.[36]

Southwestern Tajikistan

New archaeological research has recently found at three ancient cemeteries in southwestern Tajikistan called Farkhor, Gelot (in Kulob District), and Darnajchi, ceramics influenced by Namazga IV and Namazga V transitional period from Early to Middle Bronze Age, which can suggest a presence of BMAC inhabitants in this region earlier considered out of their influx.[37] Gelot's grave N6-13 was dated to 2203–2036 cal BC (2 sigma), and Darnajchi's grave N2-2 as 2456-2140 cal BC (2 sigma).[38] Farkhor's cemetery is located on the right bank of Panj river, very near the Indus Civilization's site Shortughai.[39]

Material culture

Bird-headed man with snakes; 2000–1500 BC; bronze; 7.30 cm; from Northern Afghanistan; Los Angeles County Museum of Art (USA)

Agriculture and economy

The inhabitants of the BMAC were sedentary people who practised irrigation farming of wheat and barley. With their impressive material culture including monumental architecture, bronze tools, ceramics, and jewellery of semiprecious stones, the complex exhibits many of the hallmarks of civilisation. The complex can be compared to proto-urban settlements in the Helmand basin at Mundigak in western Afghanistan and Shahr-e Sukhteh in eastern Iran, or at Harappa and Mohenjo-daro in the Indus Valley.[40]

Models of two-wheeled carts from c. 3000 BC found at Altyn-Depe are the earliest evidence of wheeled transport in Central Asia, though model wheels have come from contexts possibly somewhat earlier. Judging by the type of harness, carts were initially pulled by oxen or a bull. However, camels were domesticated within the BMAC. A model of a cart drawn by a camel of c. 2200 BC was found at Altyn-Depe.[41]


Fertility goddesses, named "Bactrian princesses", made from limestone, chlorite and clay reflect agrarian Bronze Age society, while the extensive corpus of metal objects point to a sophisticated tradition of metalworking.[42] Wearing large stylised dresses, as well as headdresses that merge with the hair, "Bactrian princesses" embody the ranking goddess, character of the central Asian mythology that plays a regulatory role, pacifying the untamed forces.[citation needed]


Sarianidi regards Gonur as the "capital" of the complex in Margiana throughout the Bronze Age. The palace of north Gonur measures 150 metres by 140 metres, the temple at Togolok 140 metres by 100 metres, the fort at Kelleli 3 125 metres by 125 metres, and the house of a local ruler at Adji Kui 25 metres by 25 metres. Each of these formidable structures has been extensively excavated. While they all have impressive fortification walls, gates, and buttresses, it is not always clear why one structure is identified as a temple and another as a palace.[45] Mallory points out that the BMAC fortified settlements such as Gonur and Togolok resemble the qila, the type of fort known in this region in the historical period. They may be circular or rectangular and have up to three encircling walls. Within the forts are residential quarters, workshops and temples.[46]

The people of the BMAC culture were very proficient at working in a variety of metals including bronze, copper, silver, and gold. This is attested through the many metal artefacts found throughout the sites.[citation needed]

Extensive irrigation systems have been discovered at the Geoksiur Oasis.[25]


The discovery of a single tiny stone seal (known as the "Anau seal") with geometric markings from the BMAC site at Anau in Turkmenistan in 2000 led some to claim that the Bactria-Margiana complex had also developed writing, and thus may indeed be considered a literate civilisation. It bears five markings which are similar to Chinese "small seal" characters. The only match to the Anau seal is a small jet seal of almost identical shape from Niyä (near modern Minfeng) along the southern Silk Road in Xinjiang, originally thought to be from the Western Han dynasty but now thought to date to 700 BC.[47]

Archaeological interactions with neighbouring cultures

BMAC materials have been found in the Indus Valley civilisation, on the Iranian Plateau, and in the Persian Gulf.[45] Finds within BMAC sites provide further evidence of trade and cultural contacts. They include an Elamite-type cylinder seal and a Harappan seal stamped with an elephant and Indus script found at Gonur-depe.[48] The relationship between Altyn-Depe and the Indus Valley seems to have been particularly strong. Among the finds there were two Harappan seals and ivory objects. The Harappan settlement of Shortugai in Northern Afghanistan on the banks of the Amu Darya probably served as a trading station.[25]

There is evidence of sustained contact between the BMAC and the Eurasian steppes to the north, intensifying c. 2000 BC. In the delta of the Amu Darya where it reaches the Aral Sea, its waters were channelled for irrigation agriculture by people whose remains resemble those of the nomads of the Andronovo culture. This is interpreted as nomads settling down to agriculture, after contact with the BMAC, known as the Tazabagyab culture.[49] About 1900 BC, the walled BMAC centres decreased sharply in size. Each oasis developed its own types of pottery and other objects. Also pottery of the Tazabagyab-Andronovo culture to the north appeared widely in the Bactrian and Margian countryside. Many BMAC strongholds continued to be occupied and Tazabagyab-Andronovo coarse incised pottery occurs within them (along with the previous BMAC pottery) as well as in pastoral camps outside the mudbrick walls. In the highlands above the Bactrian oases in Tajikistan, kurgan cemeteries of the Vaksh and Bishkent type appeared with pottery that mixed elements of the late BMAC and Tazabagyab-Andronovo traditions.[50] In southern Bactrian sites like Sappali Tepe too, increasing links with the Andronovo culture are seen. During the period 1700 – 1500 BCE, metal artefacts from Sappali Tepe derive from the Tazabagyab-Andronovo culture.[51]

New research in the Murghab region, in excavations at defensive walls of Adji Kui 1, showed pastoralists present, and living on the edge of the town, as early as the second half of the Middle Bronze Age (c. 2210-1960 BC), coexisting with the BMAC population that lived in the 'citadel.'[52]

Relationship with Indo-Iranians

The Bactria–Margiana complex has attracted attention as a candidate for those looking for the material counterparts to the Indo-Iranians (Aryans), a major linguistic branch that split off from the Proto-Indo-Europeans.

For example, Sarianidi advocated identifying the complex as Indo-Iranian, describing it as the result of a migration from southwestern Iran. Bactria–Margiana material has been found at Susa, Shahdad, and Tepe Yahya in Iran.[citation needed] In contrast, Lamberg-Karlovsky did not see this as evidence that the complex originated in southeastern Iran. "The limited materials of this complex are intrusive in each of the sites on the Iranian Plateau as they are in sites of the Arabian peninsula."[citation needed]

Mallory/Adams (1997) associated the Andronovo, BMAC and Yaz cultures with Indo-Iranian migrations, writing,

It has become increasingly clear that if one wishes to argue for Indo-Iranian migrations from the steppe lands south into the historical seats of the Iranians and Indo-Aryans that these steppe cultures were transformed as they passed through a membrane of Central Asian urbanism. The fact that typical steppe wares are found on BMAC sites and that intrusive BMAC material is subsequently found further to the south in Iran, Afghanistan, Nepal, India and Pakistan, may suggest then the subsequent movement of Indo-Iranian-speakers after they had adopted the culture of the BMAC.[53]

Anthony (2007) sees the culture as begun by farmers in the Near Eastern Neolithic tradition, but infiltrated by Indo-Iranian speakers from the Andronovo culture in its late phase, creating a hybrid. In this perspective, Proto-Indo-Aryan developed within the composite culture before moving south into the Indian subcontinent.[50]

Possible evidence for a BMAC substratum in Indo-Iranian

As argued by Michael Witzel[54] and Alexander Lubotsky,[55] there is a proposed substratum in Proto-Indo-Iranian which can be plausibly identified with the original language of the BMAC. Moreover, Lubotsky points out a larger number of words apparently borrowed from the same language, which are only attested in Indo-Aryan and therefore evidence of a substratum in Vedic Sanskrit. He explains this by proposing that Indo-Aryan speakers probably formed the vanguard of the movement into south-central Asia and many of the BMAC loanwords which entered Iranian may have been mediated through Indo-Aryan.[55]: 306  Michael Witzel points out that the borrowed vocabulary includes words from agriculture, village and town life, flora and fauna, ritual and religion, so providing evidence for the acculturation of Indo-Iranian speakers into the world of urban civilisation.[54]


In excavations at Gonur Depe, at a brick-lined burial pit, grave number 3200 of the Royal necropolis, a horse skeleton was found in period I, dated around 2200 BCE along with a four-wheeled wooden wagon with bronze rims.[56] Archaeologist Julio Bendezu-Sarmiento, mentioning N. A. Dubova's (2015) article, comments that this was an "almost complete skeleton of a foal" resting on the wagon with "wheels circled by bronze bands" and radiocarbon-dated to 2250 BCE.[57] So he considers this horse and the wagon are "one and a half century prior" to similar burials of Sintashta culture.[57] A stone statuette that seems to be a horse with saddle was found in burial number 3210 also in the Royal necropolis and was reported by Sarianidi in 2005, and in burial 3310 parts of a stallion's body were found, the stallion lacked its head, rump, and tail, and was considered as a cult burial of a domestic horse by archaeologist Sarianidi in his 2008 publication.[56]


Genetic proximity of the Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex () with ancient (colour) and modern (grey) populations. Primary Component Analysis (detail).[58]

In 2019, Narasimhan and co-authors analysed BMAC skeletons from the Bronze Age sites of Bustan, Dzharkutan, Gonur Tepe, and Sappali Tepe. The male specimens belonged primarily to haplogroup J, specifically J* (3/26), J1 (1/26), J2 (7/26), as well as G (2/26), L (2/26), R2 (3/26), R1b (1/26), R* (2/26), H1a (1/26), P (1/26), Q (1/26), T (1/26) and E1b1b (1/26).[59][60]

The BMAC population largely derived from preceding local Copper Age peoples who were in turn related to Neolithic farmers from the Iranian plateau and to a lesser extent early Anatolian farmers, as well as hunter-gatherers from Western Siberia (WSHG). The samples extracted from the BMAC sites did not have derived any part of their ancestry from the Yamnaya people, who are associated with Proto-Indo-Europeans, although some peripheral samples did already carry significant Yamnaya-like Western Steppe Herders ancestry, inline with the southwards expansion of Western Steppe Herders from the Sintashta and Andronovo cultures towards Southern Central Asia at c. 2100 BCE.[61][62] Succeeding cultures, specifically the Yaz culture, was characterised by a combination of BMAC and Yamnaya/WSH ancestries, and associated with early Indo-Iranians.[63] Narasimshan et al. (2019) found no essential genetic contributions from the BMAC in later South Asians, suggesting that the Steppe-related ancestry was mediated via other groups.[59]

Genetic data on Iron Age samples from modern-day Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan confirm the admixture between local BMAC groups and Andronovo-related populations, at the end of Oxus Civilization. These Southern Central Asian Iron Age population derived around 57% of their ancestry from Western Steppe Herders (Andronovo) and c. 43% from the BMAC culture population. Modern day Tajiks and Yaghnobis were found to be direct descendants of the Bronze and Iron Age Central Asian populations, deriving ancestry from both the Yamnaya-like Western Steppe Herders and BMAC groups, and showing genetic continuity to historical Indo-Iranians.[64] These Iron Age Central Asians also displayed a higher genetic affinity to present-day Europeans than present-day Uzbeks, which harbour an additional componet derived from an East Asian-like source "through several admixture events over the past ~2,000 years", absent from Iron Age Uzbeks and modern Europeans.[62]


In Afghanistan

Tepe Fullol bowl fragment, 3rd millennium BCE, National Museum of Afghanistan.

In Turkmenistan

In Uzbekistan

See also


  1. ^ Vidale, Massimo (21 June 2017). Treasures from the Oxus: The Art and Civilization of Central Asia. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 978-1-83860-976-4.
  2. ^ Salvatori, Sandro, (2010). "Thinking Around Grave 3245 in the 'Royal Graveyard' of Gonur (Murghab Delta, Turkmenistan)", in: On the Track of Uncovering a Civilisation. A volume in honor of the 80th-anniversary of Victor Sarianidi, p. 249: "Summing up we can now date the MBA 2400/2300-1950 BC and the LBA 1950–1500 BC and to recognise a very strong chronological correlation between the southern Central Asia MBA and the late Umm an-Nar period."
  3. ^ a b c d Lyonnet, Bertille, and Nadezhda A. Dubova, (2020b). "Questioning the Oxus Civilization or Bactria- Margiana Archaeological Culture (BMAC): an overview" , in Bertille Lyonnet and Nadezhda A. Dubova (eds.), The World of the Oxus Civilization, Routledge, London and New York, p. 32.: "...Salvatori has often dated its beginning very early (ca. 2400 BC), to make it match with Shahdad where a large amount of material similar to that of the BMAC has been discovered. With the start of international cooperation and the multiplication of analyses, the dates now admitted by all place the Oxus Civilization between 2250 and 1700 BC, while its final phase extends until ca. 1500 BC..."
  4. ^ Lyonnet, Bertille, and Nadezhda A. Dubova, (2020a). "Introduction", in Bertille Lyonnet and Nadezhda A. Dubova (eds.), The World of the Oxus Civilization, Routledge, London and New York, p. 1 : "The Oxus Civilization, also named the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex (or Culture) (BMAC), developed in southern Central Asia during the Middle and Late Bronze Age and lasted for about half a millennium (ca. 2250–1700 BC)..."
  5. ^ Kaniuth, Kai, (2016). "The Late Bronze Age Settlement of Tilla Bulak (Uzbekistan): A Summary of Four Years' Work", in South Asian Archaeology and Art 2012, Volume 1, Brepols, p. 119: "Taken together, our dates suggest a timeframe of ca. 1950-1800 cal. BCE for phases 1–2 of Tilla Bulak, and, by extension, for the Sapalli Culture phase LB Ia and the transition to Ib."
  6. ^ Kaniuth, Kai, (2007). "The Metallurgy of the Late Bronze Age Sapalli Culture (Southern Uzbekistan) and its implications for the 'tin question'", in Iranica Antiqua 42, p. 26: "Northern Bactria (Southern Uzbekistan) has produced some monumental buildings, but nothing to rival the spectacular architectural or sepulchral finds of Margiana and Southern Bactria."
  7. ^ Kaniuth, Kai, (2013). "A new Late Bronze Age site in Southern Uzbekistan", in South Asian Archaeology 2007, Volume I, Prehistoric Periods, BAR International Series 2454, p. 151: "A series of 26 radiocarbon dates from Dzarkutan established a time bracket of the 20th–15th centuries BC [for Sapalli culture], but these samples have not yet been published with reference to certain ceramic assemblages, so we lack a good resolution within this 500-year span (Görsdorf and Huff 2001)."
  8. ^ Kaniuth, Kai, (2020). "Life in the Countryside: The rural archaeology of the Sapalli culture", in Bertille Lyonnet and Nadezhda A. Dubova (eds.), The World of the Oxus Civilization, Routledge, London and New York, p. 457: "The Sapalli culture, the local northern Bactrian variant of the Oxus Civilization, flourished from the 20th to the 15th century BC."
  9. ^ Kaniuth, Kai, (2007). "The Metallurgy of the Late Bronze Age Sapalli Culture (Southern Uzbekistan) and its implications for the 'tin question'", in Iranica Antiqua 42, p. 26: "There is general agreement that the date of unprovenanced finds stretches back further than that of the 20th–18th-century BC graves scientifically excavated at Dashly-1 and 3 (Sarianidi 1976), and that they start in the last centuries of the third millennium BC."
  10. ^ Lyonnet, Bertille, and Nadezhda A. Dubova, (2020a). "Introduction", in Bertille Lyonnet and Nadezhda A. Dubova (eds.), The World of the Oxus Civilization, Routledge, London and New York, p. 1.
  11. ^ Vassar College WordPress, (10 May 2017). "Dashly": "Viktor Sarianidi (1929–2013), a Russian archaeologist born in the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic, discovered the sites [in northern Afghanistan]. His works are famous, but somewhat difficult to find in English. He, along with his collaborators from the Soviet Academy of Sciences in Moscow, excavated the sites from 1969–1979, halting work when Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan (Salvatori, 2000:97)."
  12. ^ See Sarianidi, V. I. 1976. "Issledovanija pamjatnikov Dashlyiskogo Oazisa," in Drevnii Baktria, vol. 1. Moscow: Akademia Nauk.
  13. ^ John Noble Wilford, (13 May 2001). "In Ruin, Symbols on a Stone Hint at a Lost Asian Culture", in New York Times.
  14. ^ Kurbanov, Aydogdy, (14 September 2018). "A brief history of archaeological research in Turkmenistan from the beginning of the 20th century until the present", in ArchéOrient.
  15. ^ Atagarryev E., and Berdiev O.K., (1970). "The Archaeological Exploration of Turkmenistan in the Year of Soviet Power", East and West 20, pp. 285–306.
  16. ^ Masson, V.M., and V.I. Sarianidi, (1972). Central Asia: Turkmenia before the Achaemenids, London, Thames and Hudson. [Reviewed in: Kolb, Charles C., (1973). American Anthropologist, Vol. 75, Issue 6, December 1973, pp. 1945–1948.], p. 1945: "The [Middle] Bronze Age...2000-1600 B.C...(Namazga V) is the period of an urban revolution based on an Anatolian model of limited (or no) irrigation agriculture and retarded social development...Namazga-depe (170 acres) is the production and probable governmental center, while Altin-depe (114 acres) is a second capital. Specialization in ceramics, metallurgy, monumental architecture (including the Altin-depe ziggurat), wealth-based class stratification, internal and external trade, and vestiges of a symbol system...A sudden and gradual cultural decline began about 1600 B.C., and Namazga-depe shrank to three acres while Altin-depe was completely abandoned..."
  17. ^ Levine, Louis D., (1975). "Review to: Masson, V. M., and V. I. Sarianidi. Central Asia: Turkmenia before the Achaemenids (1972)" , in The American Historical Review, Volume 80, Issue 2, April 1975, p. 375.
  18. ^ Vidale, Massimo, 2017. Treasures from the Oxus, I.B. Tauris, p. 8: "...Soviet scholars [excavated] Namazga Depe [belonging to] the Regionalization and Integration Eras. This latter (phases Namazga IV and V) encompasses the replacement of the Bronze Age cities of the early and mid third millennium BC by large palace-centred fortified compounds surrounded by secondary urban clusters in the late third millennium..."
  19. ^ Lyonnet, Bertille, and Nadezhda A. Dubova, (2020b). "Questioning the Oxus Civilization or Bactria- Margiana Archaeological Culture (BMAC): an overview" , in Bertille Lyonnet and Nadezhda A. Dubova (eds.), The World of the Oxus Civilization, Routledge, London and New York, p. 20.: "...Though some authors consider that the Oxus Civilization could be an ultimate development of the Namazga culture...there is in fact a gap in our knowledge of a few hundred years in Margiana between the end of the NMG III period and the beginning of the BMAC, and the great majority of the sites in Bactria and Margiana are founded upon virgin soil."
  20. ^ Hiebert, Fredrik Talmage (1994): Origins of the Bronze Age Oasis Civilization in Central Asia, p. 12
  21. ^ a b c d e Vidale, Massimo, (2017). Treasures from the Oxus, p. 9, Table 1.
  22. ^ Harris, D. R.; Gosden, C.; Charles, M. P. (1996). "Jeitun: Recent excavations at an early Neolithic site in Southern Turkmenistan". Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society. 62: 423–442. doi:10.1017/S0079497X00002863. S2CID 129621644.
  23. ^ Miller, Naomi F. (1999). "Agricultural development in western Central Asia in the Chalcolithic and Bronze Ages". Vegetation History and Archaeobotany. 8 (1–2): 13–19. Bibcode:1999VegHA...8...13M. doi:10.1007/BF02042837. S2CID 53965048.
  24. ^ Kohl 2007, pp. 189–190.
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  31. ^ Eduljee, K. E., (2005). "Kelleli": "...located some 40 km northwest of Gonur. The settlement has two major sites: Kelleli 3 and 4. Kelleli 3 is four hectares in size and had double external wall with towers flanking four symmetrical entrances. In the south-western sector, is an area of houses. Kelleli 4 is three hectares in size and also has a double outer wall with towers..."
  32. ^ a b Salvatori, Sandro, (1998). "The Bronze Age in Margiana", in A. Gubaev, G.A. Koshelenko, and M. Tosi (eds), The Archaeological Map of the Murghab Delta, Preliminary Reports 1990–95, Rome, p. 48.
  33. ^ Frenez, Dennys, (2018). "Manufacturing and trade of Asian elephant ivory in Bronze Age Middle Asia: Evidence from Gonur Depe (Margiana, Turkmenistan)" in Archaeological Research in Asia 15, p. 15.
  34. ^ Eduljee, K. E., (2005). "Dashly": "...Dashly 3 site consists of two complexes and its occupation is dated to the [middle]-late Bronze Age, (2300–1700 BCE) and the Iron Age..."
  35. ^ Lyonnet, Bertille, and Nadezhda A. Dubova, (2020b). "Questioning the Oxus Civilization or Bactria- Margiana Archaeological Culture (BMAC): an overview" , in Bertille Lyonnet and Nadezhda A. Dubova (eds.), The World of the Oxus Civilization, Routledge, London and New York, p. 31.: "The oldest period (pre-2000 BC) is mainly identified in Margiana and probably also at...Dashly 3."
  36. ^ Eduljee, K. E., (2005). "Dashly"
  37. ^ Vinogradova, Natal'ja M., (2020). "The formation of the Оxus Civilization/BMAC in southwestern Tajikistan", in The World of the Oxus Civilization, Routledge, Abstract: "Southwestern Tajikistan has long been considered as isolated from the rest of Central Asia, and only slightly and late affected by the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC) phenomenon. However recent discoveries at cemeteries (Farkhor, Gelot, and Darnajchi) where the material can be compared to that of Middle and Late Bronze Age sites (from Namazga (NMG) IV/early V to VI) disrupt this scenario..."
  38. ^ Teufer, Mike, (2020). "The 'classical Vakhsh culture'" , in The World of the Oxus Civilization, Routledge, pp. 698–733.
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  41. ^ Kirtcho, L. B. (2009). "The earliest wheeled transport in Southwestern Central Asia: new finds from Alteyn-Depe". Archaeology, Ethnology and Anthropology of Eurasia. 37 (1): 25–33. doi:10.1016/j.aeae.2009.05.003.
  42. ^ Fortenberry, Diane (2017). THE ART MUSEUM. Phaidon. p. 66. ISBN 978-0-7148-7502-6.
  43. ^ Inagaki, Hajime. Galleries and Works of the MIHO MUSEUM. Miho Museum. p. 45.
  44. ^ Tarzi, Zémaryalaï (2009). "Les représentations portraitistes des donateurs laïcs dans l'imagerie bouddhique". KTEMA. 34 (1): 290. doi:10.3406/ktema.2009.1754.
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  46. ^ Mallory & Adams 1997, p. 72.
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  48. ^ Kohl 2007, pp. 196–199.
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  52. ^ Cerasetti, Barbara, (2020). "Who interacted with whom? redefining the interaction between BMAC people and mobile pastoralists in Bronze Age southern Turkmenistan", in: Bertille Lyonnet and Nadezhda A Dubova (eds.), The World of the Oxus Civilization, Routledge, p. 490: "...In the Murghab region, pastoralists are attested as early as the second half of the Middle Bronze Age (ca. 2210–1960 BCE). Evidence comes from the excavations made in three trenches just outside the defensive walls of the Bronze Age site of Adji Kui 1...There, the coexistence of the BMAC people living in the 'citadel,' as defined by G. Rossi Osmida (2003, 2007), with a pastoral population located on the edge of the town is clearly attested..."
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  59. ^ a b Narasimhan, Vagheesh M.; Patterson, Nick; Moorjani, Priya; Rohland, Nadin; Bernardos, Rebecca; Mallick, Swapan; Lazaridis, Iosif; Nakatsuka, Nathan; Olalde, Iñigo; Lipson, Mark; Kim, Alexander M.; Olivieri, Luca M.; Coppa, Alfredo; Vidale, Massimo; Mallory, James (6 September 2019). "The formation of human populations in South and Central Asia". Science. 365 (6457). doi:10.1126/science.aat7487. ISSN 0036-8075. PMC 6822619. PMID 31488661.
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  62. ^ a b Kumar, Vikas; Bennett, E Andrew; Zhao, Dongyue; Liang, Yun; Tang, Yunpeng; Ren, Meng; Dai, Qinyan; Feng, Xiaotian; Cao, Peng; Yang, Ruowei; Liu, Feng; Ping, Wanjing; Zhang, Ming; Ding, Manyu; Yang, Melinda A (28 July 2021). "Genetic Continuity of Bronze Age Ancestry with Increased Steppe-Related Ancestry in Late Iron Age Uzbekistan". Molecular Biology and Evolution. 38 (11): 4908–4917. doi:10.1093/molbev/msab216. ISSN 0737-4038. PMC 8557446. PMID 34320653. The BMAC populations were previously shown to be primarily a mixture of Iranian (~60–65%) and Anatolian (~20–25%) farmer ancestries (Narasimhan et al. 2019). Some BMAC individuals were found to have high Yamnaya/Steppe-related ancestry, suggesting this ancestry began appearing in Central Asia by around ~4100 BP (Narasimhan et al. 2019). - We observe a greater genetic affinity of Uz_IA to present-day Europeans than to the present-day Uzbekistan populations (supplementary fig. S7, Supplementary Material online). This higher genetic affinity for European populations is due to the similar components of Anatolian farmer and Steppe-related ancestries observed both in Uz_IA and European present-day populations. Lower genetic affinity for the present-day Uzbekistan populations indicates substantial demographic changes through several admixture events over the past ~2,000 years whereby present-day Uzbekistan populations now show additional ancestries derived from East Asian and Siberian populations (Irwin et al. 2010; Yunusbayev et al. 2015).
  63. ^ Kumar, Vikas; Bennett, E Andrew; Zhao, Dongyue; Liang, Yun; Tang, Yunpeng; Ren, Meng; Dai, Qinyan; Feng, Xiaotian; Cao, Peng; Yang, Ruowei; Liu, Feng; Ping, Wanjing; Zhang, Ming; Ding, Manyu; Yang, Melinda A (28 July 2021). "Genetic Continuity of Bronze Age Ancestry with Increased Steppe-Related Ancestry in Late Iron Age Uzbekistan". Molecular Biology and Evolution. 38 (11): 4908–4917. doi:10.1093/molbev/msab216. ISSN 0737-4038. PMC 8557446. PMID 34320653.
  64. ^ Guarino-Vignon, Perle, et al. (2022). "Genetic Continuity of Indo-Iranian Speakers Since the Iron Age in Southern Central Asia", in Scientific Reports 12, Article 733, 14 January 2022.


  • Francfort, H.P. (1991), "Note on some Bronze Age Petroglyphs of Upper Indus and Central Asia", Pakistan Archaeology, 26: 125–135
  • Francfort, H.P. (1994), "The central Asian Dimension of the Symbolic System in Bactria and Margia", Antiquity, vol. 28, no. 259, pp. 406–418
  • Kohl, Philip L. (2007). The Making of Bronze Age Eurasia. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1139461993.
  • Mallory, J. P.; Adams, D. Q. (1997). "BMAC". Encyclopedia of Indo-European culture. London: Fitzroy Dearborn. ISBN 1-884964-98-2.
  • Parpola, Asko (2015). The Roots of Hinduism: The Early Aryans and the Indus Civilization. Oxford University Press Incorporated. ISBN 978-0190226923.

Further reading

  • Aruz, Joan (ed), Art of the First Cities: The Third Millennium B.C. from the Mediterranean to the Indus, pp. 347–375, 2003, Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.), google books (fully online)
  • Edwin Bryant (2001). The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture: The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-516947-6.
  • CNRS, L'archéologie de la Bactriane ancienne, actes du colloque Franco-soviétique n° 20. Paris: Editions du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 1985, ISBN 2-222-03514-7
  • Fussman, G.; et al. (2005). Aryas, Aryens et Iraniens en Asie Centrale. Paris: de Boccard. ISBN 2-86803-072-6.
  • Lubotsky, A. (2001). "Indo-Iranian substratum" (PDF). In Carpelan, Christian (ed.). Early Contacts between Uralic and Indo-European. Helsinki: Suomalais-Ugrilainen Seura. ISBN 952-5150-59-3. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 April 2008.
  • Sarianidi, V. I. (1994). "Preface". In Hiebert, F. T. (ed.). Origins of the Bronze Age Oasis Civilization of Central Asia. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-87365-545-1.
  • Sarianidi, V. I. (1995). "Soviet Excavations in Bactria: The Bronze Age". In Ligabue, G.; Salvatori, S. (eds.). Bactria: An ancient oasis civilization from the sands of Afghanistan. Venice: Erizzo. ISBN 88-7077-025-7.
  • Forizs, L. (2016, 2003) Apāṁ Napāt, Dīrghatamas and Construction of the Brick Altar. Analysis of RV 1.143 in the homepage of Laszlo Forizs

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Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex
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