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The Headdress of the Tillya Tepe “Prince”

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image of Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia

The sensational finds made at Tillya Tepe in Northern Afghanistan close to the modern city of Sheberghān, are the primary source for reconstructing the cultural history of Bactria in the turbulent period between the end of Greek rule and the rise of the Kushan Empire. The paucity of written sources from this period (mid second century BCE to mid first century CE), and our resulting lack of understanding of even major political and cultural events, has led to its apt characterization as the “Dark Age” of Bactrian history. In this context, a special place should therefore be reserved for archaeological finds and Tillya Tepe is undoubtedly the most important site of this period. The significance of the Tillya Tepe finds for the reconstruction of Bactrian history and its cultural landscape has long been recognized, but they still have much to offer in terms of historical inquiry. In what follows I shall attempt a new reconstruction of the headdress of a “prince” buried in Grave IV and conclude that it allows us to place him within the orbit of the Indo-Parthian Gondopharid dynasty, one of the most powerful regional political entities of the period.

Affiliations: 1: The Hebrew University of JerusalemIsrael


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