The World of the Oxus Civilization  book cover
1st Edition

The World of the Oxus Civilization

ISBN 9781138722873
Published November 18, 2020 by Routledge
964 Pages 310 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This collection of essays presents a synthesis of current research on the Oxus Civilization, which rose and developed at the turn of the 3rd to 2nd millennia BC in Central Asia.

First discovered in the 1970s, the Oxus Civilization, or the Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC), has engendered many different interpretations, which are explored in this volume by an international group of archaeologists and researchers. Contributors cover all aspects of this fascinating Bronze Age culture: architecture; material culture; grave goods; religion; migrations; and trade and interactions with neighboring civilizations, from Mesopotamia to the Indus, and the Gulf to the northern steppes. Chapters also examine the Oxus Civilization’s roots in previous local cultures, explore its environmental and chronological context, or the possibly coveted metal sources, and look into the reasons for its decline.

The World of the Oxus Civilization offers a broad and fascinating examination of this society, and provides an invaluable updated resource for anyone working on the culture, history, and archaeology of this region and on the multiple interactions at work at that time in the ancient Near East.

Table of Contents


Bertille Lyonnet and Nadezhda A. Dubova


1. Questioning the Oxus Civilization or Bactria- Margiana Archaeological Culture (BMAC): an overview

Bertille Lyonnet and Nadezhda A. Dubova

2. The Oxus Civilization and Mesopotamia: a philologist’s point of view 6

Micha e l Guichard

3. Environmental changes in Bactria and Sogdiana (Central Asia, Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan) from the Neolithic to the Late Bronze Age: interaction with human occupation

Eric Fouache, Lucie Cez, Val e rie Andrieu- Ponel, and Rocco Rante

4. The rise of the early urban civilization in southwestern Central Asia: from the Middle Chalcolithic to the Middle Bronze Age in

southern Turkmenistan

Ljubov’ B. Kircho


5. The architecture of the Bactria- Margiana Archaeological Culture

Ruslan G. Muradov

6. Some thoughts on the imaginary representations in the Bactria- Margiana Archaeological Culture

Elena V. Antonova

7.  Myths and gods in the Oxus Civilization

Annie Caubet

8. BMAC glyptics: typology, context, function, and background

Sylvia Winkelmann

9. Chlorite containers from the Oxus Civilization: between technical choices and iconographic codes

Massimo Vidale

10. The “Royal Necropolis” at Gonur Depe: an attempt at systematization (plan, constructions, rituals)

Nadezhda A. Dubova

11. Polychrome inlayed and painted mosaics from Gonur Depe (Turkmenistan)

Nadezhda A. Dubova

12. Animal burials at Gonur Depe

Robert M. Sataev

13. Funerary rituals and archaeothanatological data from BMAC graves at Ulug Depe (Turkmenistan) and Dzharkutan (Uzbekistan)

Julio Bendezu- Sarmiento

14. Bioarchaeology of the BMAC population: a short review

Vladimir V. Kufterin

15. Animal exploitation at Gonur Depe

Robert M. Sataev

16. Life in the countryside: the rural archaeology of the Sapalli culture

Kai Kaniuth

17. Who interacted with whom? Redefi ning the interaction between BMAC people and mobile pastoralists in Bronze Age southern Turkmenistan

Barbara Cerasetti

18. The end of the Oxus Civilization

Elise Luneau


19. The BMAC presence in eastern Iran: state of affairs in December 2018 – towards the Greater Khorasan Civilization?

Raffaele Biscione and Ali A. Vahdati

20. The relationship between the Oxus Civilization and the Indo- Iranian borderlands

Benjamin Mutin and C.C. Lamberg- Karlovsky

21. Interaction between the worlds of South Asia and Central Asia

Shereen Ratnagar

22. The Oxus Civilization/ BMAC and its interaction with the Arabian Gulf: a review of the evidence

Pierre Lombard

23. The formation of the Oxus Civilization/ BMAC in southwestern Tajikistan

Natal’ja M. Vinogradova

24. The Zeravshan regional variant of the Bactria- Margiana Archaeological Complex: interaction between two cultural worlds

Nona A. Avanesova

25. The “classical Vakhsh culture”: a Bronze Age culture of the 3rd and early 2nd millennium BC in southern Tajikistan

Mike Teufer

26. The Oxus Civilization and the northern steppes

Gian Luca Bonora


27. Archaeometallurgical studies on BMAC artifacts

Steffen Kraus

28. Metal sources (tin and copper) and the BMAC

Jennifer Garner

29. The acquisition of tin in Bronze Age Southwest Asia

Vincent C. Pigott

Appendix: Radiocarbon dates related to the BMAC/ Oxus Civilization

Michel Fontugne, Ganna I. Zajtseva, Bertille Lyonnet, Nadezhda A. Dubova, and Natalja D. Burova

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Bertille Lyonnet is Directrice de Recherches Emeritus at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), Paris, as an archaeologist. She has worked in Central Asia (Afghanistan, Tadjikistan, and Uzbekistan), northeastern Syria, the northern Caucasus, and Azerbaijan. A specialist in ceramics, she has always shown a particular interest in the interrelations between the different areas of the world where she has worked. She is the author of several books and over 150 articles.

Nadezhda A. Dubova is a main researcher and head of the Center of Human Ecology at the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology (IEA) of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia. She was the head and/or a member of more than 60 physical anthropological and archaeological expeditions in Russia, Central Asia, Iran, and the Moldova Republic. She now heads the International Russian-Turkmen Margiana archaeological expedition. She gives lectures at different universities (Lomonosov Moscow, Ufa (Bashkortostan), Voronezh, South Kazakhstan (Shimkent), and Bern (Switzerland)). She is the author and editor of more than 400 publications on physical anthropology, human ecology, Eurasian archaeology, and theoretic problems of anthropology.


"The World of the Oxus Civilisation brings to life one of the great ‘lost civilisations’ of the ancient world, lost only because, while extraordinarily rich and extensive in its reach, its story has long been hidden from the broader world of scholarship by extreme political and linguistic barriers. This volume, telling the full story of the Oxus Civilisation for the first time, is a magnificent gift for anyone interested in the rich complexity of the ancient world and the early rise of internationalism across Asia. Its comprehensive coverage, presented as a series of specialist essays by a range of international scholars, will be warmly welcomed as a much needed authoritative work of reference filling a critical gap in the early history of Old World development." - Alison Betts, University of Sydney, Australia.

"This ambitious book provides a comprehensive overview by many experts of the remarkable Bronze Age Civilization of the Oxus including detailed description of the settlement systems, the archaeological evidence for a complex and unique culture as well as discussions of relations with neighboring civilizations in Iran, the Indus Valley and Mesopotamia. The astounding richness of the burials at the site of Gonur are testimony to the wealth and sophistication of this culture which flourished as part of the expansive network of trade and exchange that linked the riverine cultures of the Near East from Troy to the Indus valley." - Holly Pittman, University of Pennsylvania, USA.