Wednesday, 9 October 2013

The Uzbek culture and traditions circuit, The Afrasiyab Museum, Samarkand - (Day 8 afternoon cont.) - The 14th of September 2013


Soon after having visited the Oulough Begh's Observatory and Museum complex we headed back to the Afrasiyab hill, covering an area of about 200 hectares, so as to visit its Museum. Afrasiyab is believed to have been the ancient Sogdian capital of Marakanda, which was destroyed by Alexander the Great during his military campaigns in the 4th century BC.

The Museum was very well organised with quite a huge amount of information regarding the early settlement in the area and the artefacts uncovered during the excavations, many of which dating back to the 3rd and 5th centuries BC.

Plumbs for looms - 3rd through to 2nd centuries B. C.

The most important piece kept in the Museum though was the Afrasiyab painting also known as the Ambassadors' painting, a rare example of Sogdian Art, which is believed to date back to the middle of the 7th century CE.

According to specialists three of four different countries neighbouring Central Asia are said to be depicted, China, Iran India and Turkey, suggesting also that the Turkish Qaghan might be depicted there, as well as the emperor of China hunting, China emperors' musicians during a Chinese festival, the empress of China on a boat, two dignitaries taking animals to be sacrificed, envoys, a religious funerary  procession in honour of the ancestors related to Iran.

Although part of the painting "scenarios" were destroyed it was still possible to identify some of the described characters by following the sketch representations that were placed nearby. 

Apart from the importance of the artefacts exhibited I felt that having visited a Museum had somehow made a slight difference in our programme scheduling for the day, as we had spent most time outdoors and would continue to do so as far as the next visit was concerned (and besides, I have always enjoyed Museums).

(To be continued)

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