April 8, 2013

New Discovery Causes Rethinking of Ancient’s Technological Capabilities

An unbelievable discovery at the Gonur-Tepe site points to earlier advances in human civilization than had previously been believed. Researchers consider it to be home of the 5th oldest civilization, a civilization lost but clearly quite advanced. Once inhabited by Indo-Iranian people, Gonur-Tepe dates back to 2500 BCE.  

New discoveries at the site are forcing archaeologist to reconsider the technology of mosaic making. A well-preserved mosaic found at the site pre-dates the classical Greek and Roman mosaics known today.  

Gonur-Tepe  is home to a grand palace, fortified walls, and temples with Zoroastrian fire altars. Advanced molded metal, silver and gold trinkets, and glazed pottery are among some of the artifacts being uncovered. In addition to containers with traces of various mind altering plant residue, there is also evidence of tools for making and using soma for rituals, as mentioned in the Rigveda and haoma as in the Avesta.

The city is a massive walled complex. From an aerial view it resembles a maze and is about 30 miles from the ancient city of Merv outside the modern city of Mary. Merv dates back to the time of the Achaemenid Persians and reached its peak under Turkic rule in the 12th century CE. Merv was eventually sacked by the Mongols in 1221 which killed tens of thousands of people, leading others to abandon the ruins. 

Gonur-Tepe contains at least 354 archaeological monuments, the majority of which have only recently been studied due to its isolated location in Turkmenistan. Unfortunately, archaeologists are in a quandary about what to do with the artifacts since they need such careful restoration and conservation. 

While it is encouraging to see such cooperation in archaeology recently, more cooperation is needed. We must ensure that these discoveries are not only shared with the general public, but also preserved in their home countries. Cultural heritage is vitally important. It gives humans a sense of unity and belonging and can give us insight into our shared human origins. 

Let's hope they continue working in unity to find a solution.

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