Bronze age Miniature Columns (sometimes called ‘Diminutive Columns’ and even ‘Column Idols’) have been found in a vast territory, stretching from the Carpathian Mountains in the west up to West Siberia in the east , and all the way down to Baluchistan in the south!
They were either discovered in graves, either inside settlement areas. This means that apart from having a practical / most probably cult function they also must have had a function as prestige object or symbol of power.
The contexts in which these columns have been found during official excavations confirm a general dating to the second half of the 3rd millennium BC.
They were made from specially selected stones: marbles, alabaster, travertine and steatite, often imported from far away regions.. The columns were always polished to enhance their polychromy. They could be cylindrical or tapering in contour, and bear a shallow groove on both flat ends (mostly, but not always aligned); this groove sometimes continued along the sides.
The miniature column here was made of reddish-brown marble with white inclusions, and has a shallow (non perfectly aligned) groove on top and base. Remarkably, the groove on the top surface is splitting in a V-shape towards one of the ends (no other example with a V shaped end of the groove is known to me until now..) It belongs to the ‘Type C’ group according to Vidale’s hypothetical classification.
BMAC period (Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex), ca 2400-2200 BC. Excellent condition, nice soft patina. Minor chips off the top rim, and one (old) damage at the base.
Height 21 cm; diameter top 10 cm; diameter base 12,6 cm. Weight 4,4 kilo.
Provenance: private Italian collection.
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Massimo Vidale, Treasures from the Oxus, the Art and Civilization of Central Asia, London 2017, p.47-51.
V.I.Sarianidi, Un temple de Zoroastre au cœur du Karakoum, in Les Dossiers de l’Archéologie N° 185,1993, p.52
Marie-Hélène Pottier, Matériel Funéraire de la Bactriane Méridionale de L’Age du Bronze, Editions Recherche sur les Civilisations, Mémoire N°36, Paris 1984, p. 41-42 and p.216
Wiktor Sarianidi, Margus, Ancient Oriental Kingdom in the Old Delta of Murghab river, Ashgabat 2002, p.132-133