Royal Necropolis in North Gonur

Sariandini Viktor I.

Excavations of 2004 (spring-autumn) in Gonur, former capital of Margush (East Turkmenistan), discovered royal necropolis of the late III mill. BC. The greatest part of the burial-grounds were dug out in the earth and have the shape of a rectangular pit. They consist of rooms faced with raw bricks from within (the house of the dead) and adjacent courtyards with clay plastering. In the tombs successive burials were practised in «burial rooms»; burial offerings were stored in special rooms decorated with mosaics in the Near Eastern style. Although all the grave pits (except № 3245) were plundered in ancient times, gold and silver vases (some of them decorated with animal figures) have been preserved among burial offerings hidden in two «caches» (tombs № 3220 and 3235). Decorative art of the royal necropolis in Gonur is undoubtedly connected with the artistic traditions of the Near East (fantastic lion-like gryphons with a horn and a beard), though modified under the local influence (figures of Bactrians [Camelus Bactrianus] or snake-dragons biting herbivorous animals). A chariot unearthed with a horse (in № 3200) or with wheels taken off (№ 3225 and, probably, 3240) is identical to the objects found in Bactria and Elam. They show that in the late III mill. BC there existed a single type of wheeled vehicles, which spread on the territory of today's Iran, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan together with the newly come tribes who had known domestic horse in their Mesopotamian motherland. There are many reasons to think that domestic horse came to Central Asia not from the steppe tribes, but from the leading centres of the then world.