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An Ivory Plaque from Mele Hairam, Turkmenistan

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image of Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia

The exploration works at the Partho-Sassanian fire temple at Mele Hairam, southern Turkmenistan, have yielded a fragmentarily preserved double-faced ivory plaque in relief. Although the secular character of scenes depicted excludes the possibility of the plaque playing any role in the fire cult, it might have served as a valuable donation to the temple. The alien nature of the scenes indicates a foreign provenience of the plaque and may be linked to the ivory and bone items belonging to the so-called Begram Treasure or Hoard, and, more specifically, to local Bactrian workshops. Neither the exact dating of the plaque nor the date of its depositing at the temple can be precisely established. The piece could, however, have easily arrived to the temple due to the latter's unique location in the immediate vicinity of the Silk Road.


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