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Published: 23, March 2015
Tillya-tepe is the word from the Uzbek language, which means Hill of Gold. This site is present in Afghanistan. The excavation took place under the supervision of Victor Sarianidi, in 1970s-1980s. Present on the left side of the bank of the Oxus River, the nomadic necropolis was excavated to get the general idea of the people of Tillya-tepe. Archaeologists discovered pottery comparable to the one found in Turkmenistan. They uncovered remnants of a mud-brick monument along with a terrace and a columned hall, surrounded by thick walls. The archaeologists found that the people of Tillya-tepe were nomads. It was found that by the ways of their living and burial sites. They adapted to the local traditions of the new areas but modified them to suit themselves.
Nomadic tradition of burial is to bury the dead within a mound, as a mark of respect. The graves Sarianidi inspected were very much different from the other nomadic necropolises of the world. Trenches were dug and lidless cloth coffins were found and Sarianidi said that these were clandestine burials, as in hastily buried corpses. The position was slightly elevated of the coffin. The manner of burial was hierarchical, with five females surrounding one solitary male. Their garments were sewn by a gold thread. Gold was pretty much abundant in this area as the entire gold of the deceased was buried with that individual. Males wore layers and layers of clothing. A kaftan coupled with a short jacket along with a pair of trousers. A four dagger sheath was wrapped around the thigh. A long sword, numerous daggers and knives and two bows were present too. These men are classified as warlords or knights, because this is real fighting equipment not something to represent power. The females wore what is still the dress of the Afghani women, shalwar qameez. The value of the female costumes and its style was dependant on their status. Head ornaments like rings, bracelets, earrings and necklaces were abundant, showing the superiority and power of the individual. Every dagger, sword, ornament and sheath had the embossed form of a heart on it. The significance of it is still yet unknown, (Schiltz).
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The people of the Pazyryk area held more respect for their horses than their people. However the bodies were not at all decayed like in the necropolis of Tillya-tepe. These bodies had been properly preserved with permafrost. When a man died, ten of his horses were buried with him. The best of his horses were dressed up in costumes. Each horse was dressed differently according to each horse’s rank to his master. Each was dressed as a special tribute, to its master. The skeletons of the horses showed that the best horses were chosen, (Argent).
As I have already discussed earlier, the people of Tillya-tepe buried gold with the deceased and the people of Pazyryk preserved the bodies of the dead and buried horses adorned with finery for their masters. However, the Kurgans are a different matter. In the necropolis of Tillya-tepe, the dead were hastily buried. No proper funeral was seen in the remains. The Kurgans not only contained weapon adorned males, but warrior females were also buried their. The female warriors are said to be Sauromatians. Kurgan burials are princely. A large deep pit with proper coffin beds has been excavated. The females and males were buried alike, both adorned with wealth and weapons. A female skeleton was uncovered and was adorned with bronze and silver earrings and bracelets. Peace offerings were present in the form of bronze mirrors, wooden vessels, glass bead necklaces, twenty bronze arrow heads and two spear heads. Many female skeletons were seen with battle wounds on the skull and legs. Kurgans contain traditional kurgan moats surrounding them for burial rituals. Man remains of funeral food, i.e. animal bones and plant species, have been found. Remains of wooden platforms have been seen on the graves as a mark of respect and loyalty to the warriors who defended the people. The female warriors were treated as equals to the men. Jewel adorned wine cups have been collected from the kurgans. It seems that the cups represented the social status of the people. More the jewels on the cup the higher will be the rank and vice versa, (Guliaev).
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The nomads of Pazyryk kept animals in high regard, as already discussed regarding horses ad burials, (Argent). Their livelihood depended on the pasturing of their animals, cattle e.t.c. Their art was also accustomed to animals, thus called animal-art style. They painted horses or drew cows and goats.
However, the nomads of the Tillya-tepe area were much wealthier. The society status of a person was measured by the amount of gold he had. The gold contained the embossed forms of the shape of heart and many Greek goddesses. These people held the goddesses in high esteem. They had a belief that goddesses gave their land beauty and made them prosper and having their figures on ornaments and daggers was lucky as they would bring them luck in battle, (Stewart).
Jacobson has explained the shifts in a very logical manner and I am in full agreement with her. She has said that the nomads are still said to be barbaric and illiterate. We cannot expect such people to preserve and store their history. The sites of Kushan, Tillya-tepe and Pazyryk were nomadic. When they moved from one area to the other, they didn’t document or preserve their history, due to which we have no idea where have they in reality originated from. After some work, it has been said that they were Indo-Iranians. However, many disagree when they see the Indo-Iranian model, as it does not match the traits of the nomads. This is a hundred percent true. If a history of a certain area is not documented or stored in any form, then trying to figure out the origins of the people of that area is the very difficult.
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