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The ancient city Old Nisa located in the Southern Turkmenistan in the closest neighborhood of Ashgabat is one of the most important archaeological sites of the Parthian epoch. During one of stages of its functioning, this fortress probably became the sacral center connected with honoring of representatives of the ruling Arsakids dynasty. A large architectural complex was built in the center of the settlement, intending for solemn departure of sacral ceremonies. The “Tower Building” is distinguished from other constructions of this ensemble, probably, to be one of the most important temples. Time and people ruined it, but archaeological researches allowed revealing some artifacts giving an idea of its former furniture. They are of the very deplorable state, but now it is almost the only evidence allowing making judgment on the local culture of that time.

This article is a preliminary report on the small anthropomorphous sculptures made of gypsum, which are very seldom found in Nisa. These precious plaster sculptures were found in some rooms of the Tower’s second fl oor. However, during one of capital repairs (it is very carefully possible to assume that repair was connected with need of elimination of consequences of a strong earthquake, the tectonic phenomena are frequent in these parts), fragile hollow plaster statues strongly suffered. Their separate remains were stored in one of yards, adjacent to the Tower Building. The preliminary study showed that inside the Building there were not less than four or fi ve plaster sculptures which had height about one meter. No one fi gure is to be completely restored. However, the fact of existence of a similar sculpture in the Northeast Parthia and its typological proximity to similar but later products from Bactria is important. According to stratigraphic data, fi nds from the Tower Building are dated no later than the 1st century BC.


Culture of Parthia, Partava, Old Nisa, Tower Building, plaster sculpture

Viktor N. Pilipko

Institute of Archaeology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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