Libmonster ID: JP-1345
Author(s) of the publication: B. I. Vainberg (Moscow)

In the sixth and early fourth centuries BC, Khorezm was part of the ancient Iranian Achaemenid Empire. Initially, it was united in one satrapy with Parthia and Sughd, and at the turn of the V-IV centuries BC. e. this area in the lower reaches of the Amu Darya becomes a separate satrapy. The reason for this may lie in the fact that by the end of the first century BC the hydrographic regime of the Amu Darya was changing - a regular flow along the Uzboy and a waterway from the Amu Darya through Lake Sarykamysh and the Uzboy to the Caspian Sea was established, which connected Khorezm by a shorter route with the main western centers of the Achaemenid Empire .1 This determined a new direction of cultural relations and the uniqueness of the Khorezm culture among archaeological complexes from other regions of Central Asia 2 in the period from the IV century BC to the end of the I millennium BC. This time is characterized by connections with the western regions of the Achaemenid Empire and Transcaucasia.

The archaeological layers of this time are typical for many monuments of ancient Khorezm. The Koi - Krylgankala fortress is widely known - in its original form, it is a round and monumental religious structure. Excavations of this monument in the 50s were carried out by the Khorezm expedition under the leadership of S. P. Tolstov. The materials are published in a special monograph 3 .

In 1981, 1985-1991, another unique monument of the same time (IV-II centuries BC) was excavated - the cult center of Kalala-gyr 2 in the left-bank Khorezm. The monument was destroyed by fire approximately within the II century BC, and a rich archaeological material has been preserved, among which a significant place is occupied by objects related to the cult and rituals. In different parts of Kalala-gyr 2, ostraks and inscriptions on vessels (the oldest Khorezmian inscriptions), quite a lot of imported dishes were found; the composition of local ceramics is very diverse, there are also fragments of story wall paintings. Many ceramic cult vessels from Kalala-gyr 2 are made in imitation of metal samples of the Achaemenid era and are undoubtedly associated with the Western Iranian centers of Toreutics of the late Achaemenid period. Among the rich set of terracotta products, new unique types also stand out

1 Vainberg B. I. Istoriya obvodneniya Prisarykamyshskoy delty Amudarya v drevnosti v svete arkheologicheskikh rabot poslednykh decadakh [History of flooding of the Prisarykamysh delta of the Amu Darya in ancient times in the light of archaeological works of recent decades]. Moscow, 1991; same name. Izuchenie pamyatnikov Prisarykamyshskoy delty Amudarya v 70-80-kh godakh [Studying the monuments of the Prisarykamysh delta of the Amu Darya in the 70-80-ies]. Skotovody i sel'ateltsy Levoberezhnogo Khorezma (drevnost ' i srednevekovye). Issue 1. Moscow, 1991; they are the same. Ethnogeography of Turan in ancient times. VII century BC-VIII century AD Ch. I. M., 1999.

2 Vainberg B. I., Stavisky B. Ya. Istoriya i kul'tura Srednoi Azii v drevnosti [History and Culture of Central Asia in ancient times]. VII century BC-VIII century AD Moscow, 1994.

3 Koi-Krylgan-kala - pamyatnik kul'tury drevnego Khorezma IV v. B.C. - IV v. N.E. [Koi - Krylgan-kala-monument of culture of ancient Khorezm IV V. B.C.-IV v. N.E.]. Trudy Khorezmskoy arkheologo-etnograficheskoy expeditsii [Proceedings of the Khorezm archaeological and Ethnographic Expedition], vol.

page 136

Fig. 1. Gyaur-kala 3. Gem from the substructure of the entrance hall in the round temple

women's figurines. The influence of ancient Eastern traditions on terracotas of this era was noted earlier .4 A special series of finds is represented by original Khorezmian ceramic reliefs on flasks and lids with mythological themes. Many of them were not previously found on the monuments of Khorezm 5 .

The culture of Khorezm from the fourth century BC to the turn of the millennium is characterized by round temples, which were associated with the cult of fertility and were part of a wide range of similar structures common in the "Iranian" world and even in a number of other Indo-European cult traditions. Relief compositions on ancient Khorezm flasks can be interpreted either on the basis of legends and myths recorded in the Avestan tradition, or from the ideas associated with them. The author notes the deep Indo-European roots in mythology and the special popularity of Mithras in the beliefs of the ancient Khorezmians, as well as the probable proximity of their views in this era to the Zervanism of the late Achaemenids .6

Since the fourth century BC, the Khorezmian version of the Zoroastrian calendar has already been used.

Funeral rites of different groups of the population of Khorezm at this time, which became known as a result of archaeological work in recent decades, are quite significantly different from the canonical Zoroastrian. Even the earliest ossuary vessels from Khorezm (from the fourth century BC) contain all the bones of the skeleton, which indicates the existence of a rite of purification of bones, other than "exposure". The latter is attested here only in the II-IV centuries AD. At the same time, the round temple on Kalaly-gyr 2, which had been lying in ruins for a long time, was turned into a Zoroastrian - type dakhma-a place for displaying corpses.

The complex of cultural objects of Khorezm in the IV-II centuries BC, which somehow experienced the Ancient Eastern influence, undoubtedly includes gems that appeared here for the first time. Among the modest local products of this group, made on nodules or stones such as pebbles, a prominent place is occupied by images of a deer pierced by an arrow 7 . In 1979, Kh. Yusupov, head of the archaeological expedition of the Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences of Turkmenistan, while excavating the substructure of the entrance tower on the round cult structure of the Gyaur 3 settlement, discovered a scaraboid with a clear image of a deer pierced by an arrow (Fig. 1). The deer faces to the right, the arrow pierces it into the ridge.

After the discovery of a ceramic relief with a calendar myth in the cult center of Kalaly-gyr 2 (Fig. 2), it became obvious that the gem shows a "quote" from this myth. It is interesting that on the gem prints, the image of a deer, as well as on the relief, will be turned to the left. Without going into a detailed analysis of all the details of this relief and the plot depicted on it, we will note the main points that are important for our topic.

The image on the relief is divided into three parts, which obviously convey the main meaning of the image: in the lower part, intersecting wave-like lines convey the idea of the primordial "chaos" or water element; in the middle part

4 Koi-Krylgan-kala ... p. 175 sl. (the section on terracotas was written by M. G. Vorobyova).

5 Weinberg. Studying the monuments of the Prisarykamysh delta of the Amu Darya... P. 263; Vainberg B. I. The Kalali-Gir 2 Ritual Center in Ancient Khwarazm / / Bulletin of the Asia Institute. New series. V. 8. 1994.

6 Vainberg. The Kalali-Gir 2...; Weinberg. Ancient Khorezmian ceramic reliefs from the cult center of Kalala-gyr 2 (IV-II centuries BC) and their interpretation. Kul'tura Vostoka: problemy i pamyatniki [Culture of the East: Problems and Monuments]. Tez. dokl. konf. v Gos. Hermitage Museum on January 21-25, 1992. St. Petersburg, 1992. pp. 52-59.

7 Tolstov S. P. Drevny Khorezm, Moscow, 1948. Tables 83, 2; Koi-Krylgan-kala ... pp. 215-216. Fig. 81. The author of the section on seals S. A. Trudnovskaya was inclined to consider the image on this seal with a certain degree of doubt a fantastic animal.

page 137

2. The cult center of Kalala-gyr 2. Calendar myth on a ceramic relief. The flask. Fig. by G. M. Baev

The idea of organizing the natural cosmos is reflected; in the upper part, the repetition of the main content of the central scene emphasizes the cyclical nature of the main myth and ritual action, where the solar deity kills a deer, from whose blood stalks with ears of corn grow. In front of the deer, as in the main scene, a tree with a broken branch is placed. The latter is a symbol of the deer and its life, which explains another relief found on Kalaly-gyr 2, with a deer on a tree branch (Fig. 3).

The Khwarezmian myth and the corresponding ritual depicted in our relief reflect the main Indo-European myth, and the middle part of the relief reflects that part of it that related to the organization of the natural cosmos. The ritual, as you know, had to provide it anew every year. In the right half of the image is a young character running to the left, shooting arrows. It is "accompanied" by three vortex rosettes, which can be compared to the three sacred lights of the Iranians. The Avesta in the Yashtah (10. XXXI. 127) notes that "a flaming fire, the mighty farn kavi" flies in front of Mithra8 . Randomly or intentionally, the swirl rosettes vary in size, with the smallest one placed between the character's legs. Despite the great scuffiness of the image, a dagger or short sword is distinguished, fastened with belts on his left hip. It seems to us that the comparison of vortex rosettes with sacred lights,

8 Avesta. Selected hymns. From Videvdat / Translated from Avestan by I. Steblin-Kamensky, Moscow, 1993, p. 109. Translations of "Yashta" are given in this edition.

page 138

Fig. 3. The cult center of Kalala-gyr 2. A fragment of a ceramic relief -a deer on a tree. The flask. Fig. by G. M. Baev

based on the data of the Avesta, it gives reason to consider the archer a Mitre. Behind his back, in our opinion, is depicted the plant and deity Haoma (Yasna 9), the close connection of Mithras with which is traced repeatedly (for example, Yasna 9. 1-32).

In Iranian mythology, one of the functions of Mithras is to organize the natural cosmos. In the depicted myth (ritual) Mitra kills a deer with an arrow from a bow. The arrow hits him in the spine, which, according to the Avesta, was associated with the character's life force (Yasht 10. XVIII. 71). Stalks with ears of corn grew from the deer's blood (transmitted in strips running down the body). A tree with a broken branch is placed in front of the deer's left-facing muzzle. We have already noted that the branch is a symbol of the deer and its life, which is reflected in the plot of another relief (Figure 3). This passage itself is of great interest, as it finds direct and indirect analogies in various Indo-European traditions. The name of the deer-saka, according to V. I. Abaev, comes from the word with the meaning "branch"," branch " 9, which is clearly illustrated by our reliefs. The relief found on Kalaly-gyr 2 allows us to conclude that the annual Bacchanalian holiday, celebrated in the Middle Ages of the Russian Empire, was celebrated in the Middle Ages.

9 Fundamentals of Iranian linguistics. Drevneiranskiye yazyki [Ancient Iranian Languages], Moscow, 1979, pp. 300-301, 318.

page 139

Zelakh - "sakei", described by Strobon (XI. 8. 4), got its name not from the Saka people, as it is noted in the legend, but from the name of the deer saka, since the latter obviously played there, as in Khorezm, the role of the deity of dying and resurrecting nature.

The role of branches in ancient beliefs and rituals related to fertility was noted by D. Fraser 10 . A fragment of a rhyton from a Scythian burial in the Kelermes mound shows a centaur carrying a branch with a deer on his shoulder .11 The latter is depicted upside down, but they were not connected, as is usually done when carrying hunting prey. The branches of the tree are transferred here with foliage. Almost before us in an inverted form appears an image identical to Kalalygyrsky in relief with a deer on a tree. Interestingly, among the Phrygian ceramic reliefs there is an image of a centaur with a branch on his shoulder, but without a deer 12 . These plots obviously have the same or similar meaning.

The connection of the deer with the cult of fertility and the tree (plant motifs) can be traced in a number of other traditions. Here are just a few examples: the Celtic Chthonic god Cernun with deer horns on his head 13 , the name of the deer in the Russian dialect name of juniper "elenets" 14 . It is assumed that there was a special deer cult among the Hittites, where the deer was a sacred animal of the sun deity and was associated with the spring festival of the rebirth of nature 15 . There is a well-known plot with a deer at the world tree or on it (at the top) in the "Elder Edda" 16 . In Greek mythology, too, there are traces of the special role of the deer. A cypress tree, the son of Telephus, who was suckled by a deer, was turned into a tree by the gods at his request after he accidentally fatally wounded his beloved deer .17 Deer skins were usually worn by participants in the Dionysian mysteries .18 In Indian mythology, there is a fertility god Harinaigameshin with the head of a deer 19 . It is interesting that the plot of deer sacrifice is chosen as the image on the Khorezm gems. Obviously, it was given a special meaning in myth and ritual. Based on the expanded image of the calendar myth on the relief, the deer sacrifice performed by the deity Mithra immediately after his birth on the day of the winter solstice (on the relief - a young character) was the main act, which could only be followed by others. It was this sacrifice that led to the renewal of the world and ensured the stability of the society of the ancient Khorezmians.

Thus, a comparison of the images on the gem and the general picture of the calendar myth on the relief allows us to highlight the key point of this myth and the corresponding ritual, defined by the ancient Khorezmians themselves. Mithra and deer in the Khwarezmian beliefs of that time are in the same unity as Mithra and bull in Mithraism of later times. Probably, the roots of this can be seen in the ideas of ancient Indo-Europeans, where the deer was solar

10 Frazer D. D. Zolotaya vetv ' [Golden Branch]. Studies of Magic and Religion / Translated from English by M. K. Rykhlin, Moscow, 1980, especially chapters IX, XV, XXVIII-XXXV, LII, LXV, LXVIII.

11 See drawing this image in: Raevsky D. S. Model mira skifskoy kul'tury [Model of the world of Scythian culture]. Problemy mirovozzreniya iranoyazychnykh narodov evraziyskikh steppei I th. b. c. Moscow, 1985. Fig. 6.

12 The image is given in the book: History of the Ancient East / Edited by V. I. Kuzishchin, Moscow, 1979, p. 212.

13 Filip E. A. Celtic civilization and its heritage. Prague, 1961. p. 168. Tables XXIV-XXV.

14 Mifi narodov mira [Myths of the peoples of the world], vol. 2, Moscow, 1982, p. 164.

15 Areshyan G. E. Indo-European plot in the mythology of the population of the Kura and Arax interfluve of the second millennium BC / / VDI. 1988. N 4. p. 99 el. In this work, many other examples of the connection of the image of a deer with a tree and the sun are given. The author's conclusion that "the image of a deer at the top of the world tree (or near the world tree), although not exclusively Indo-European, is also important for us... however, in the Indo-European environment, it is represented everywhere" (p. 98).

16 The Elder Edda / Edited by M. I. Steblin-Kamensky, Moscow-L., 1963, 35 p. (translated by A. I. Korsun).

17 Myths of the peoples of the world, vol. 1, p. 651.

18 Losev A. F. Antique mythology in its historical development, Moscow, 1957, p. 142.

19 Brown N. Indiskaya mifologiya [Indian Mythology] / Translated by Ya. V. Vasil'kova / / Mythology of the ancient world, Moscow, 1977, p. 326.

page 140

deity 20 . The connection between Mithras and deer is also confirmed by a medieval relief from the territory of Northern Iran, where Mithras (the solar deity) is depicted riding on a deer and holding a deer horn in his hand. This relief was drawn by V. G. Lukonin in connection with the interpretation of Shapur II riding on a deer on a Sasanian dish21. It should be added that Shapur II, who kills a deer while riding on it, seems to be acting as the god Mithras himself or as a substitute priest in the annual rite of deer sacrifice, an ancient Iranian deity who provided the annual renewal of nature. The rite of deer sacrifice, according to the gems with a deer with an arrow, was also practiced in Margiana 22 .

In the calendar myth depicted in the relief, there is another important plot related to the calendar. In the middle part of the relief above the image of the described scene, thirteen small heads of a bearded character in a diadem are placed in a row, and in the middle of this relief is an image of a large bird of prey such as an eagle with outstretched wings, which is similar in character to the image from the Amu Darya treasure 23 . In our relief, this bird occupies a central place, surpasses all figures in size and stands out in terms of execution technique ("engraving" instead of relief). It seems that there is every reason to assume that this is the image of the god of time - Zervan, and the row of heads on the sides is Ahuramazda, whose 13 days according to the Avestan calendar 24 separate two turning points of time - the day of the winter solstice and the day of the spring equinox, the days of the deer sacrifice and its rebirth.


B.I. Vainherg

Among 4-2 s. ВС gems of Ancient Khwaresm of special interest is a series of objects bearing image of deer whose spine is pierced with arrow. Comparing this image with a ceramic relief on a flake from Kalaly-gyr 2 cult centre, the author concludes that this is a "citation" from Khwaresm calendar myth, according to which the deer represents a divinity of dying and reviving nature. The deer, growing on a tree branch, is sacrificed by god Mitra and this act is celebrated by the Khwaresmians as insuring world renewal and rebirth of nature.

Similar beliefs are to be observed in other Indo-European traditions.

20 Areshyan. Indo-European story...

21 Coach K. V., Lukonin V. G. Sasanian silver. Khudozhestvennaya kul'tura Irana III-VIII vekov [Art Culture of Iran of the III-VIII centuries]. Moscow, 1987. p. 55. Fig. 18; p. 72. Fig. 47.

22 Gaibov V. A., Koshelenko G. A. Bully Gebekly-depe (Turkmenistan) / / Ancient gems and stones of the East. Tez. dokl. konf. Moscow, 1999. State Museum of the East, Moscow, 1999, P. 8.

23 The Amu Darya treasure. Exhibition catalog and introductory article by E. V. Zeymal. L., 1979. p. 46. N 25;

P. 47. N 33, 34.

24 Bickerman E. Khronologiya drevnego mira [Chronology of the ancient world]. The nearest East and antiquity. Moscow, 1975. p. 320 p. Appendix 4 (to p. 21). Livshits V. A. "Zoroastrian" calendar.


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