Thursday, June 24, 2004

Bactrian Gold still intact

A Hoard of Gold That Afghanistan Quietly Saved: "what is known as the Bactrian gold -- 20,600 pieces of gold jewelry, funeral ornaments and personal belongings from 2,000-year-old burial mounds -- has emerged from hiding intact, a shimmering example of the heights scaled by ancient Afghan culture.

There are thousands of small slivers of appliqué ornaments that decorated the funeral garments of the five women and one man found in the tombs, along with gold headdresses and richly worked pendants, dagger and sword hilts and scabbards carved with jewel-encrusted beasts. There are also belts, buckles, signet rings, an ornamental tree of gold and pearls, and even gold sandals.

They come from a site known to the local Afghans as Tela Tapa, or Mound of Gold, on a dusty plain in northern Afghanistan that runs from the northern foothills of the Hindu Kush mountains down to the ancient Oxus river, now known as the Amu. The burial mound, not far from the modern town of Shiberghan, was probably a family cemetery belonging to rulers of one of the Kushan princedoms of the first century A.D."