Stephen Herold Antiquities



Antiquities From the Ancient World

Bactrian Bronze Ax Head – C. 1500 B.C.

From the Earliest Persian setlements in Bactria and Sogdiana, in the Northeast of Afghanistan. In the constant movement of peoples out of the great Eurasian Steppes, the Bactrian and Sogdianian tribes of the Persian peoples moved in c. 1500 B.C. to replace the Indo-Aryans who had just migrated to India, filling the void created by the collapse of the Indus civilization. The Medes and Persians were just entering Northwest Persia at this date, although they are not noticed in the records until some 500 years later. Bactrian and Sogdianian were a distinct sub-family of Medio-Persian, showing some centuries of separation during their migration down the east side of the deserts to the valleys of the Hindu Kush.

The Persians were skilled metal workers, as were most of the Indo-European peoples. In seemingly primitive conditions, and without cities and a developed economic system, they made all manner of fine and useful objects. The same holds true today. In this distant region of the world metal was scarce and so tools were only made as large as needed. This ax is some 3.5" long, but still is an effective weapon when on a sturdy shaft. It is soft enough that it might be arsenical copper bronze instead of tin bronze, although some tin was mined in the Hindu Kush. It was found at a site in Badakshan, near the ancient city of Balkh on the caravan route to the lapis lazuli mines and China. On such trade routes we would expect a richer material culture, including artifacts such as this ax. Then, as ever, trade generated wealth.

A very old and rare piece with a fine patina. It was acquired from a Turkoman antique dealer in Los Angeles who obtained it from "contacts" inside Afghanistan. As many fakes are now coming from Afghanistan and Pakistan the dealer had it examined by Abdul Wais, the retired director of the Kabul Museum (now living in Germany). This piece and two other axes were found to be genuine, but several other pieces were detected as modern forgeries. (Email documentation supplied.)

Overall very fine with a rich, green patina.



Also see the fine prints of Egyptian Antiquities from Napoleon’s 1799 Expedition that discovered the Rosetta Stone and began Egyptology.

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