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Date: Mon, 24 Nov 1997 13:21:09 -0500
Reply-To: John Schoeberlein-Engel <schoeber@FAS.HARVARD.EDU>
Sender: Former Soviet Republic - Central Asia Political Discussion List <CENASIA@VM1.MCGILL.CA>
From: John Schoeberlein-Engel <schoeber@FAS.HARVARD.EDU>
Subject: Zoroastrian Archaeological Find
X-To: cenasia@vm1.mcgill.ca
To: Multiple recipients of list CENASIA <CENASIA@VM1.MCGILL.CA>

Archaeologists find Zoroastrian-era statue

24 November 1997

ASHGABAT, Nov 17 (Interfax) - A baked-clay statue found this fall is the first archeological find to give an idea of the appearance and clothing of the people of Margush, a second-millennium-B.C. country which was the home of Zoroastrianism.

A joint Turkmen-Russian-Italian expedition found the seated statue with well-preserved features in southern Turkmenistan, the area where Margush, known in ancient Greek as Margiana, was situated.

The statue was similar to Bactrian ones found in northern Afghanistan and Mesopotamian ones unearthed in Iran, said the expedition leader, Russian archeologist Viktor Sarianidi. He told reporters no other similar statues had yet been found.

The Zoroastrian sacred book, Avesta, and a famous rock inscription about the times of Persian king Darius I speak of Margiana as a prosperous land.

An earlier expedition led by Sarianidi discovered four Zoroastrian temples in southern Turkmenistan.

Margiana's territory, now an excavation site, is "a real Klondike for archeologists," Sarianidi said. "Nobody would have thought that in this very place a high-level civilization was prospering about three thousand years ago or that Margush culture was a direct heir to Mesopotamian civilization."