AKSON RUSSIAN SCIENCE COMMUNICATION ASSOCIATION—Scientists from Russia and Uzbekistan found a unified fortification system on the northern border of ancient Bactria. This country existed in the 3rd century BC. The fortress found blocked the border and protected the oases of Bactria from nomadic raids. During the excavations, scientists revealed the fortress citadel, drew up a detailed architectural plan and collected rich archaeological material providing evidence for the construction, life, and the death of the fortress as a result of the assault.
In the 4th century BC, a significant part of the Central Asia territory belonged to Bactria, which, as a separate satrapy, was part of the Achaemenid Empire. In 329 BC Bactria became part of the Alexandrian empire and after his death joined the kingdom of Seleucid: the largest Hellenistic state in the East, created by the commander Alexander Seleucius I Nicator and his son Antiochus I Soter. Gradually, the state became weakened by numerous military campaigns and the struggle for power. As a result, once flourishing Bactria ceased to exist in the 2nd century BC when Iranian-speaking nomads from the northern territories, the Saki and Yuadzhi, invaded the country.
Recently, Russian scientists completed excavations in this area and determined the fortress construction time: about 95-90 years of the 3rd century BC, the time of the Antiochus I reign and the very beginning of the formation of the Seleucid state. The fortress was inhabited for about 150 years.
The fortress consisted of a diamond-shaped main quadrangle, a triangular citadel (phylacterion) surrounded by powerful double walls with an internal gallery about nine meters wide, and extension walls, which were fortified with 13 rectangular bastions-towers, three of which were also outboards. Outside the fortress there was a marketplace where local residents brought goods needed by the garrison soldiers.
The archaeologists recorded the location of each item using a total station or GPS, and then created a single plan tied to the terrain. As a result, the scientists managed to establish where the marketplace was, the road to the entrance to the fortress, and determined the location of the assault: there were more than 200 arrowheads, combat darts and troops. It is curious that the proposed battlefield is located to the east of the fortress, which suggests a possible environment or the breakthrough of the enemy through a system of border fortifications.
The warriors who defended Uzundar wore armor: in the inside-wall room of the south-western fortified wall, archaeologists discovered armor-clad plates and two right-handed iron heads from helmets. So far, scientists can not exactly determine what type of helmets these patches represented—a pseudoattical or Melos group, so it is still possible that these are the same helmets that the Alexandrian forces wore during the Antiochus I Soter period.
“This findings are sensational: direct analogies are known from the Takhti-Sanga temple, but there they were bronze, and we found iron fragments in Uzundar. To date, there are only a few specimens and sculptures with which to compare these cheeks and determine their type. We also found fastening details, which provide important information on manufacturing technology, according to tradition, but to answer these questions requires lengthy research,” says Nigora Dvurechenskaya, researcher at the Department of Classical Archaeology, Head of the Bactrian detachment of the Central Asian Archaeological Expedition.
In addition to weapons, archaeologists have collected a large number of ceramics, as well as a rich numismatic collection: about 200 coins of very good preservation identified as coins of Antiochus I and all the rulers of the Greco-Bactrian kingdom from Diodot to Heliocles of very different denominations: from silver drachmas to copper mites. Such a variety proves that Bactria at the very beginning of the Seleucid kingdom formation was part of a developed monetary circulation system. Thus, the materials of Uzundara allow us o study and reconstruct all spheres of life of the Seleucid and Greco-Bactrian fortresses.
Article Source:Edited from the Akson Russion Science Communication Association news release.
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