ENEOLITHIC AND THE BRONZE AGE
The Eneolithic is the transitional period from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age. Copper was used for the first time during this period but, in its initial stages, most tools were still made of stone. This epoch witnessed, among others, the intensive development of agriculture, cattle breeding and copper work. Evidence of agriculture and metallurgy was only found in those regions inhabited by sedentary-agricultural tribes but not in the steppes dominated by nomadic cattle-breeders. The emergence of this sedentary way of life is evident in the Sarazm settlement located 15 km west of Panjikent. This settlement occupied an area of 130 hectares. It was discovered and investigated by A.I. Isakov (1977-1996). Since 1983, investigations have been conducted by a Tajik – French expedition.
Radiocarbon dating has enabled the Late Eneolithic period to be put as being between: Sarazm I 3500-3200, Sarazm II 3200-2900, Sarazm III 2900-2700, Sarazm IV 2700-2000 B.C. A cemetery with five internments is known as “The Princess of Sarazm”. A man and a juvenile were buried along with the princess. She was buried in clothes richly embroidered with turquoise, lapis lazuli, cornelian, jasper and limestone beads. Her headdress was decorated with silver beads and her hair (probably in plaits) entwined with 49 golden beads. She was wearing on her arm a bracelet made of shell. Among the other items found were a bronze mirror with a handle, a bone awl, five stone ceremonial maces and two clay figurines of women. It is likely that a woman’s appearance was an important factor in Sarazm society.
From the end of the 4th millennium B.C. the settlement of Sarazm was one of the biggest centers of ancient metallurgy due to the rich mineral resources of the mountains of the Upper Zarafshon which it occupied. Mineral resources included copper, silver, tin, lead, mercury etc. Hearth for melting of metal, crucibles and stone for shaping instruments and weapons were also found in the settlement.
A two-layered potter’s kiln from the beginning of the 3rd millennium B.C. attests to the development of ceramic production. Since nothing similar had existed in Central Asia and they simply just appeared after two thousand years, it is assumed that they were designed and built by the Sarazm potteries themselves.
If we look at the style of the paintings on the pottery in Sarazm we can see that it shows a closer connection with two southern regions, i.e. the south-east of Turkmenistan and the Baluchistan-Seistan, lying west of Hindukush.
The stone objects and jewellery are more impressive. Art took the form of wall paintings depicting traditional scenes with geometrical decoration (as in the ceramics) like crosses, triangles and parallel lines.
Among domestic buildings and warehouses, shrines were discovered with particular interior and altars for burnt offerings, wall paintings, decorated walls and other details of cultic character. In the center of the hearth were deep niches for the holy fire.
The archaeological materials recovered from these two early periods confirm the existence of cultural and commercial ties with the settlements of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Iran.
The two subsequent periods, 2900-2700 B.C. and 2700-2000 B.C. relate to the Bronze Age.