Vladimir I. Ionesov
(Samara International Society for Cultural Studies, Samara, Russia)
Many archaeological ruins of urban areas ( Sapallitepa, Djarkutan, Molali, Bustan in Uzbekistan and Dashli in Afghanistan, on both banks of the central Amu-Darya River) were discovered in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They confirm the existence of a unique, settled, agricultural civilization in the ancient Bactrian region a thousand years before the arrival of the Achaemenids. After the abandonment of the important early urban centers of southern Turkmenistan and northern Iran, the epicenter of state genesis and urbanization was located near the Amu-Darya drainage basins. Sapalli culture became the cradle of the most ancient urban civilization in Uzbekistan.
The investigation of the archaeological objects of Sapalli culture convincingly testifies that in the middle and the second half of the second millennium B.C., Djarkutan became the protostate center and early urban capital of the settled agricultural population in Northern Bactria, providing the economic, political, ideological, trade-handicraft, and religious leadership in this Central Asian region. Djarkutan consists of a temple and palace building, a citadel, living quarters, craft areas, irrigation canals, and cemeteries covering more than 100 hectares.
Over the last thirty years, the burial grounds of Djarkutan have been archaeologically studied, and some cemeteries have been completely excavated. On the whole, more than 2000 ancient burials were excavated in 32 cemeteries and settlements of the Sapalli culture. As a result of these field investigations, a great number of valuable archaeological data, including more than 6000 ceramic vessels, 400.metallic items, and dozens of stone and clay artifacts have already been analyzed.
Djarkutan society was complex, of protostate type. Evidently, the Temple of Fire promoted legalization of new funeral subsystem in traditional ritual practice. The emergence of the monumental temple and palace, as well as the bronze votive replicas, cult vessels anthropoid clay figurines, and model of altars, testifies to the formation of elite subculture and ideological values of proto-zoroastrian type within the macrosystem of Djarkutan community.