One of the most beautiful Bactrian (BMAC Period) miniature columns I ever had in my collection! Remark it’s very elegant shape, it’s tall size, it’s fantastic material: white alabaster, and it’s gloomy patina!
Bronze age Miniature Columns (sometimes called ‘Diminutive Columns’ and even ‘Column Idols’) have been found in a vast territory, stretching from the Karpates 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. If one keeps in mind that these columns were made some 4000 years ago, in a time when man had only hard stones as cutting tool and sand as abrasive material, one must deduct that making such a column costed so much time (and thus economic compensation) that a simple function (weight, or hanging stone) is out ruled.
Also, they were always 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 a milky-white alabaster with grey inclusions, and has a shallow groove on top and base that continues along the sides. On one side it has a (calcium?) incrustation, the result of laying thousands of years buried under the ground. It belongs to the ‘Type B’ group according to Vidale’s hypothetical classification.
BMAC period (Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex), ca 2400-2200 BC. Excellent condition, nice gloomy patina. Minor chips off the top rim.
Height 31 cm; diameter top 13,5 cm; diameter base 16,5 cm. Weight 12,5 kilo.
Provenance: private German collection.
Price on Request
Massimo Vidale, Treasures from the Oxus, the Art and Civilization of Central Asia, London 2017, p.49.
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
Margiana, Ein Königreich der Bronzezeit in Turkmenistan, Catalogue Berlin Neues Museum 2018, p 228-229