ancient_bactrian_carved_basalt_bowl_with_incised_images_all_around_298cf267.jpg

This is an ancient basalt vessel, obviously used for a very long time.
It may be a ritual drinking vessel, judging from its wear, due to long use. Around the outside it has 4 specific incised designs drawn from the desert oasis environment: it appears to be a palm tree of some kind. There may be other figures there, but I cannot discern what they represent.

If my friend, Dr. Victor Sarianidi, were here, he could no doubt interpret the carvings for me. He is the foremost expert on the meaning of Bactrian symbolic language. He has published several books and articles on the subject, among them Myths of Ancient Bactria-Margiana on ...Seals and Amulets. This vessel is acknowledged by the collector from whom I acquired it to be from Bactrian tombs in Afghanistan. The Bronze Age Bactrian civilization that produced it existed from 2500 B.C. to 1600 B.C.

The design was carved in low relief, and has been worn even smoother. The relief is so worn away that it is difficult to say whether it is a palm tree or the simple design that is still used to ornament household goods in Central Asia. We see this design on many Turkoman carpets of the last century. It is the symbol of two staffs with a semblance of a set of ram's horns at the top.

The staffs engraved into this vessel have coils running up the staff, much like the symbol used for medical facilities in Western Europe and North America. However if the image carved into the sides of the vessel represent the desert palm trees, the coils around the trunk would represent the scaly bark of the palm tree.

Vessel measurements: 6.6 cm (2.6 in) diameter; 3.5 cm (1.37 in) high; 2.5 cm (1 in) deep. The vessel is chipped on the rim as shown in photos.