Libmonster ID: U.S.-1489
Author(s) of the publication: V. N. Pilipko

In southern Turkmenistan, at the foot of the Kopet Dag, a few kilometers from Ashgabat, the village of Bagir is located, and there are two ancient settlements-Old Nisa and New Nisa. Even before archaeological excavations began on these ancient settlements, they were repeatedly mentioned in the works of orientalists. The reason for this was the name "Nisa". The word "Nisa" in ancient Iranian means " a low, convenient place for settlement." Naturally, there were many such places, and in the vast expanses of the Middle East, many cities and villages with a similar name are known. Among them is the Parthian Nisa, located in the area of Parthien. What it was famous for, we do not really know, the surviving news of ancient authors is very concise. It is believed that Isidore of Charaka slightly opens this veil, who in his work "Parthian sites" indicates that the tombs of Parthian kings are located in the city of Parthavnis. This message of Isidore did not give rest to many Orientalists, and they tried to clarify the location of the city. The work of Isidore is nothing more than a guide. It contains a brief description of the main trade and military road that crossed the Parthian state from west to east. It is believed that the basis for this work was the official Parthian reference books. It consistently lists the areas that the road passed through; reports the length of the path within specific areas; indicates the main parking lots - cities and villages; in some cases, the distance between individual points is given and the sights of the latter are reported. At first glance, based on this rather detailed list, it is not difficult to determine where a particular item mentioned in the guidebook is located. But when trying to overlay a route on a modern geographical map, difficulties arise, many of which remain insurmountable to this day. The work, which is believed to have been created in the first century A.D., was repeatedly rewritten, and inevitably distorted the original text. Geographical representations of two thousand years ago were significantly different from modern ones, and in some places it is very difficult to navigate, seemingly in very clear and precise guidebook messages. When driving on the terrain, it is possible to use different roads, as it is well known that the shortest path is not always the best. For the middle part of the route, which is the most interesting for us, there are no exact landmarks between the Rags at all . Tehran) and Alexandria in Areya (modern times). Herat). For this reason, different routes and localizations of Parthavnisa, located somewhere in the middle part of this segment, are offered. At the initial stages of scientific research, when archaeological excavations had not yet been carried out, and only theoretical, desk-based versions of the possible location of Parthavnisa were considered, various solutions were proposed, but most often they were called Nishapur and Nisa in Baghir.

The most significant argument in favor of the latter identification was the fact that it is in Bagheera that the remains of the medieval city of Nisa, the center of a fairly large area of the same name, are undoubtedly located, i.e. here it is quite possible to see continuity in the use of the same toponym. This identification began to be recognized as indisputable after archaeological research established that both Bagir settlements were actively functioning in the Arsacid period, and on the Old Nisa there were majestic buildings defined as royal palaces and temples.

This article is devoted to the consideration of the question of the legitimacy of this identification, familiarization with different points of view about the purpose of the Old Nisa settlement.


* The article was prepared with the support of the Russian Humanitarian Science Foundation (project 96-01-00103).

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article. But first we need to make one more introduction - a brief description of the ancient settlements themselves, so that the reader can navigate relatively freely in the essence of the issues discussed.

The settlement of Novaya Nisa is located on the south-western edge of the modern village of Bagir. Its area is about 22 hectares. In plan, it has an irregular outline, since the natural elevation served as the basis for the ancient city. The outer walls of the city appeared in the Arsacid period, were rebuilt many times, but the size of the settlement remained unchanged throughout its centuries-old history. The most elevated part of the base hill was enclosed by an additional wall and used as a citadel. The territory of the city of Parthian times was actively developed during the Middle Ages, and medieval buildings were just as actively destroyed in modern and modern times, which led to a strong mixing of cultural layers. This circumstance makes it extremely difficult for archaeological research, which has never gone beyond the scope of exploratory excavations(1).

The old Nisa is located one and a half kilometers from the New One, on the south-eastern outskirts of Bagheera. The ancient settlement was also built on a vast flat-topped natural hill. In accordance with its shape, the fortress acquired the outline of an irregular pentagon elongated in the meridional direction. The area of the Old Nisa is almost half the size of the area of the New Nisa. Along the edge of the hill, an external fortress wall was built, which is still preserved in the form of a high rampart with hillocks at the location of the former towers.

Unlike the New Nisa, the Old One was hardly developed in the post-Parthian period, and the modern relief allows us to judge the structure of the ancient building. In the center of the settlement there are several large pits corresponding to ancient reservoirs, closer to the walls there are hills that hide the remains of buildings. Prior to the excavations, two large massifs of ancient buildings were identified - the northern and central ones, separated by a clearly defined depression. The size and height of the hills of the central massif indicated that it was here that the most important structures were located (Fig. 1).

Subsequent multi-year excavations have fully or partially revealed the layout of the main architectural structures of the Old Nisa and confirmed the existence of two separate architectural complexes within its borders, which differ in their purpose[2]. In the northern part of the settlement, two adjacent objects were excavated - a Large Square House (BCD) and a wine storage facility. The BCD was designed by an experienced architect and originally had a simple, clear layout. It was a square building (59.7 x 59.7 m) with high blank exterior walls. It was entered through a single, inconspicuous, narrow opening on the south side. Along the perimeter of the building there were 12 oblong rooms of the same type. The central part of the building was occupied by a vast courtyard surrounded by a columned portico. The rooms definitely served as a storage area for very valuable items in material and artistic terms. Archaeologists found them almost completely devastated. Only the polos were preserved-


(1) Marushchenko A. A. Brief report on the work of the Cabinet of Archeology of the Turkmen State Institute of History for the first half of 1936. Issue 1. 1949; Vyazmitina M. I. Archaeological study of the Novaya Nisa settlement // Tr. YUTAKE, vol. 1, 1949; she. Archaeological works on the ancient settlement of Novaya Nisa in 1947 / / Tr. YUTAKE. Vol. 2. 1953; Pugachenkova G. A. Puti razvitiya arkhitektury Yuzhnogo Turkmenistanii pori rabovladeniya i feodalizma. Moscow, 1958. pp. 22-117; Kra-sheninnikova N. I. Nekotorye soobspekeniya na nekropole Parfavnisi / / Istoriya i arkheologiya Srednoi Azii. Ashgabat, 1978.

(2) Extensive literature is devoted to the excavations of the Old Nisa. Most important publications: Masson M. E. Ancient settlements of Nisa in the village of Bagir and their study // Tr. YUTAKE, Vol. 1, 1949; Pugachenkova. Ways of development ... pp. 60-69. Recent publications: Pilipko V. N. Excavations of Staraia Nisa / / Bulletin of the Asia Institute. 1996. V. 8.; Pilipko V. N. Staraya Nisa. Building with a square hall, Moscow, 1996.

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Fig. 1. Old Nisa. General plan: / - Large square house (BCD); 2-Northern wine storage (SV); 3-North-eastern structure (BS); 4 - Building with a square hall( ZKZ); 5-Tower-like structure (BS); 6 - Structure with a round hall( SKZ); 7 - Reservoirs; 8-Southern Bastion

broken or abandoned items or small items that have escaped the eyes of robbers, but even these "pathetic remnants" indicate the abundance and variety of the contents of the BCD. Small marble statues, decayed gold-woven articles, weapons, ivory furniture, vessels made of silver, bronze, glass, and strange horn-shaped ivory products were found here (3). When analyzing the contents of a Large Square House, two things stand out:


(3) Pugachenkova G. A. Iskusstvo Turkmenistanii [The Art of Turkmenistan], Moscow, 1967, pp. 55-72. Album. Moscow, 1956. Text. Ashgabat, 1959.

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interesting features. The value of the items that came here was most likely determined not by their material value, but by their unusual nature, as well as by the fact that most of the "curiosities" were of foreign origin: Greek statues, Syrian painted glass, Egyptian alabastrons, coins from the distant city of Amis in Asia Minor, etc. were found here.

Over time, all the rooms of the BCD were filled, and there was a need to expand the "treasury". First, another row of standard rooms-"safes" with columns and mud platforms-is attached to it from the south side, and then less impressive small storerooms are built in the courtyard instead of the portico. It should be noted that as the storage rooms were filled up, the entrances to them were walled up and sealed by high-ranking Parthian officials (4).

The wine vault consisted of large rectangular rooms filled with rows of large clay barrels. This repository is associated with the discovery of almost three thousand extremely important finds-ostraks. The inscriptions are made in Parthian with a large number of Aramaic ideograms. The main part of ostraks is primary accounting documents containing information about the receipt of wine and its expenditure(5). Such "invoices" were probably attached to each hoom (clay barrel), and after entering the information in summary statements or emptying the vessels, they lost their value. Most of them are found in garbage dumps, backfills under floors.

Despite the prosaic nature of their content, these documents provided a lot of interesting historical information. Thanks to them, the structure of the local administrative administration, the positions and responsibilities of the officials who worked in Nis, the peculiarities of the calendar used in Parthia, many new Parthian names, the names of the surrounding Parthian villages and much more became known. In particular, it is established that the Old Nisa in ancient times was called "Mihrdat-kirt fortress".

The central complex (in early publications it was called the Southern, or palace and temple complex) covered an area of about 2.5 hectares and included four large structures grouped around a vast courtyard. One side of this courtyard adjoined the north-western outer wall of the fortress, the opposite side was formed by the facades of two structures. One of them has been called the "palace" since the first excavations, but in accordance with our desire to use neutral names, here it is called the North-Eastern Structure (SVS). Its excavations were carried out by various researchers, but they were never completed, so there is no clear idea of its layout and even more so its purpose. It can only be noted that it included several extensive courtyards and columned porticos.

The next object-a building with a Square Hall (in early publications, a Square Hall usually appears as an independent object) - was almost completely excavated. It was a somewhat irregular quadrangular structure, which in the last period of operation included a large hall measuring approximately 20 x 20 m and five other significantly smaller rooms. The hall had a rich decorative decoration in the Hellenistic style, including wall paintings and clay sculpture.

From the south-western side, the courtyard faces the facades of two other buildings - a tower-like structure (BS) and a Structure with a round hall (SKZ). A tower-like structure (also referred to in publications as a Tower Temple, or


(4) For images and inscriptions of these officials, see Masson M. E., Pugachenkova G. A. Impressions of Parthian seals from Nisa / / VDI. 1954. N 4; Diakonov M. M. Inscriptions on Parthian seals from ancient Nisa / / Ibid.; Nikitin A. B. Parthian Bullae from Nisa / / Silk Road Art and Archeology V. 3. Kamakura, 1993-1994.

(5) Dyakonov I. M., Livshits V. A. Parthian documents from the Nisa of the first century BC. Preliminary results of works. Moscow, I960; they are the same. Novye nakhodki dokumentov v Staraya Nisa [New finds of documents in the Old Nisa]. Вып. 2. М., 1966; DiakonoffI.M., Livshits V.A. Parthian Economic Documents from Nisa. L., 1976-1977.

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just a Tower) was the most magnificent building in Nyssa. It's two stories high. The lower floor was formed by a huge, as it is believed, solid mud masonry "pedestal" measuring approximately 20 x 20 m and 7.5 m high. Around it are two belts of narrow vaulted corridors. On the north-east side of the facade, the corridors are open, and here two columned porticos are located on the central axis. The corners of the south-eastern facade of the building are flanked by powerful rectangular towers of the same type. From these towers it was possible to climb special stairs to the second floor, where, apparently, the main ceremonial rooms were located, but the remains of these rooms were almost completely destroyed by the beginning of the excavations. The fourth building belonging to this ensemble, SKZ, has been excavated only partially; in its southern part, a circular hall with a diameter of 17 m and several adjacent rooms have been cleared. This hall, like a Square One, had a two-tiered wall design and was decorated with clay sculptures.

The archaeological study of Nisa has been carried out for over 60 years. Despite the great scientific significance of this monument, it is not actively conducted. The first scientific excavations were carried out in 1930. In the autumn of 1929, the first professional archaeologist, a graduate of Moscow State University, A. A. Marushchenko, was invited to Ashgabat. He chose Nisu as one of the first sites of his excavations. As noted above, in early desk studies, among the applicants for identification of Parthavnis, ancient settlements in Baghira were often named. This identification was supported by V. V. Barthold. The opinion of the leader of Russian Oriental studies, of course, was of great importance for the young researcher, and when starting excavations in Nisa, A. A. Marushchenko saw his main task only in the practical confirmation of this localization of Parthavnisa.

Of the two Baghir settlements, New Nisa was the larger. It should be added that at that time it was also widely believed that Nysa was the first capital of the Parthian state, and that is why the tombs of kings were located here. A. A. Marushchenko invited one of his teachers, Professor A. S. Bashkirov, to participate in the excavations, and they began a stratigraphic study of the citadel of Novaya Nisa. The results of these excavations were unexpected for researchers: up to the "mainland", fragments of ceramic products from the medieval period continued to be found in the excavation. On this basis, A. A. Marushchenko concluded that Novaya Nisa as an urban center was formed only in the Middle Ages, and this conclusion had a significant impact on the formation of his initial views on the structure of the Parthian Nisa.

From the perspective of the subsequent 60 years of experience in the archaeological study of Central Asia, the fallacy of this conclusion is quite obvious, but you need to imagine yourself in the position of a young researcher who began to study a settlement with a very complex stratigraphy in conditions when excavations of Parthian monuments in Turkmenistan had not yet been carried out, and the appearance of the material culture There were undoubtedly ancient materials in the excavation, but A. A. Marushchenko could not identify them due to the violation of the natural occurrence of cultural layers in the course of the ancient settlement's centuries-old functioning and the absence of any "talking" finds such as coins or inscriptions.

Having received "negative" results at the New Nisa, A. A. Marushchenko started control excavations of the Old Nisa without A. S. Bashkirov. In a pit on one of the central hills of the settlement, under the ruins of a late building, the remains of a column made of burnt brick and architectural details made of terracotta were found. A. A. Marushchenko correctly identified this complex of finds as belonging to the Arsacid epoch (III century BC - III century AD).

In the following years, overcoming considerable organizational difficulties, he carried out quite large excavations on the Old Nisa, but chose the wrong method.-

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instead of systematically studying one object, he lays many pits and trenches throughout the entire territory of the settlement, thus trying to make a judgment about all the main structures of the fortress. He studied the construction of the fortress walls, the water supply system, the storage facilities of the Northern Complex, made an attempt to establish the layout and purpose of the structures of the Central Complex, but the excavations of none of the objects were completed and, most sadly, not a single scientific publication covering these studies appeared. The only relatively complete document that reflects the results of these excavations and their understanding by A. A. Marushchenko himself is the text of the report that he delivered in 1935 at the International Congress on Iranian Art and Archeology(6).

In his report, A.A. Marushchenko considered the Old Nisa as a citadel of Parthavnisa, a royal residence with royal tombs located here. Later, the views of A. A. Marushchenko were severely criticized by M. E. Masson and a number of other researchers. In the light of modern knowledge, there is indeed a lot of error in them, but I would like to return to this issue not for additional criticism, but for understanding the reasons why A. A. Marushchenko formed precisely these views on the Nisu. The starting point of all the historical constructions of A. A. Marushchenko was the confidence in the correctness of identifying the Old Nisa with the Parthavnisa of Isidore Haraksky. Research was primarily focused on the search for royal tombs, for this reason, all discovered objects were evaluated in terms of their correspondence to funerary structures. A. A. Marushchenko considered the building with a Square hall as a "mausoleum" - the tomb of the first Parthian kings. What did he see as the basis for this? First of all-in the structural features of the structure. Finding out the structure of the building was carried out mainly with the help of pits and trenches, and this greatly failed A. A. Marushchenko. In general, when he correctly identified the building's contours, he misinterpreted some of the data. He established that the ZKZ was built on a platform made of mud bricks, but incorrectly determined the purpose of this platform, considering that it is a form-forming element of the building(7). In his opinion, the ZKZ originally had the appearance of a two-tiered structure: at the bottom of a high blind basement, on which the building itself was located. These ideas served as a basis for comparing the ZKZ with the tombs of Achaemenid kings.

The second premise of A. A. Marushchenko is the belief that since Zoroastrianism was the leading religion in the Parthian state, the monument under study should be in accordance with the dogmas of Zoroastrianism. As a result, architectural structures and individual elements of their design were considered as manifestations of Zoroastrian ritual practice, as it was presented by A. A. Marushchenko.

At the same time, he made many valuable discoveries and observations. Old Nisa, which previously had the definition of "ancient settlements of the pre-Arab period", received a clear date, which generally remains true to the present day. For the first time, he obtained concrete, though not very complete, data on the most important architectural structures of Nisa. He has an interesting idea about the long-term conservation of the structures of the Central Complex back in the Arsacid period.

After the Iranian Congress, A. A. Marushchenko spent another field season on the Nisa hillforts and to some extent supplemented and revised his previous views. Back in 1935, he laid a new pit in the center of Novaya Nisa .and found an interesting set of objects clearly ancient time. These findings did not agree well with the conclusions of 1930, and initially A. A. Marushchenko tried to explain this contradiction by the activities of medieval treasure hunters who allegedly dug up the treasure.


(6) Marushenko A. A. Staraya Nisa. TGNII information report on the results of excavations of the ancient settlement in 1930, 1931, 1934 and 1935. Manuscript / / Archive of the Institute of Archeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences. f. 15. D. 52a.

(7) Subsequent excavations showed that the platform had a purely technical purpose - it leveled the surface on which the building was built.

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these objects were found on the Old Nisa and brought to the New One (as in the works of 1930, medieval ceramics in the pit of 1935 were found all the way to the "mainland"). But the artificiality of this explanation did not satisfy him, and he spent a considerable part of the next field season refining the stratigraphy of Novaya Nisa.

Excavations in 1936 led A. A. Marushchenko to completely new views on the stratigraphy of the ancient settlement. Careful collection of lifting material and control drilling made it possible to establish that the first attempts to develop the Novonisiysky hill were made in the Neolithic and Bronze Age. The construction of a large settlement here, in his opinion, occurred in the Achaemenid period (8). The final formation of the city center dates back to the Hellenistic and Parthian periods(9). Having worked for several seasons on the Old Research Site, A. A. Marushchenko is already confidently highlighting the materials of this time on the New Research Site. Important results were obtained from excavations of several burial chambers in the northern part of the settlement. The discovery of a copper coin of Orodes II (57-38 BC) in one of them removed all doubts about the time of the necropolis's functioning. The revision of views on the stratigraphy of the New Nisa led to a change in ideas about the structure of the city in the Parthian period. If earlier the New Nisa was excluded from this system, now it was considered as the main core of the city, and the Old Nisa was defined as a separate royal residence.

New discoveries were made at the Old Nisa in 1936: the contours of a large circular hall were revealed, an ostrak with a Parthian inscription and a fragment of an ivory rhyton were found in the Northern Complex. But these discoveries were not published, which largely devalued the research of A. A. Marushchenko. In the Russian and foreign literature, based on the speech of A. A. Marushchenko at the Congress on Iranian Art and Archeology, not quite accurate and incomplete descriptions of Nisian materials appeared[10]. O. Reuter, in a generalizing work on Iranian architecture, proposed without sufficient grounds to consider a building with a Square hall as a "Temple of the sun and Moon" [11].

A new stage of research began in 1946, when the South Turkmen Archaeological Complex Expedition (YUTAKE) was established under the leadership of M. E. Masson. Unfortunately, from the very beginning, personal relations between the head of the first excavations and the head of YUTAKE did not develop, which affected the study of Nisa. M. E. Massa subjected A. A. Marushchenko to severe criticism and in a critical heat passed by a number of interesting discoveries and guesses of his predecessor.

YUTAKE, especially in the early years, carried out excavations on a much larger scale and more advanced methods. There were already plenty of exploration pits and trenches on the Nisa, and M. E. Massey set out to excavate individual sites extensively. One of the first to be excavated was a Square Hall (only a third of it was cleared in early research) and new finds of wall paintings and clay sculptures were made, including almost an entire female torso. In 1948, ivory rithons were discovered and systematic excavations of the Large Square House began. A complete and thorough study of this site is one of YUTAKE's greatest achievements. Later, a Round Hall was excavated, and significant work was carried out on the wine storage and Tower-like structure. But gradually the scale of work on the Nisa is reduced, and in 1967 the "Yutaka cycle" of work on the Nisa ended(12).


(8) Recent studies have not confirmed this.

(9) Marushchenko. Brief report... p. 182 ed.

(10) Weimarn B. V., Denike B. P. Itogi iranskogo kongressa [Results of the Iranian Congress]. 1936. N 1. pp. 6-20; Diakonov M., Strelkov A. Exhibition of Iranian art //Ibid., pp. 25-27; Strelkov A. S. The Third International Congress on Iranian Art and Archeology / / SA. 1937. Vol. 2. p. 209 el.; Ackerman Ph. L'exposition d'art iranien a Leningrad / / Syria. 1936. 17. P. 49.

(11) Renter 0. Parthian Architecture // A Survey of Persian Art. V. I. L.- N.Y., 1938. P. 444.

(12) Minor works were also carried out in 1975.

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YUTAKE's works were accompanied by outstanding discoveries (clay and marble sculpture, fine art plastic, magnificent rhytoes, the largest collection of Parthian documents), but did not lead to qualitatively new conclusions about the functional purpose of the Old Nisa. M. E. Massa and G. A. Pugachenkov in their general interpretations proceeded from the inviolability of the postulates-the ancient settlement in Baghira in Parthavnis, Old Nisa is the royal residence and at the same time the burial place of the first Arsacid kings.

M. E. Massey, in his first publication on the IISC (ed. 2), despite the critical assessment of A. A. Marushchenko's research, accepts his main conclusions. In this paper, the general dating of the Nisa proposed by A. A. Marushchenko is accepted, but the statement that the main structures of the Nisa at the last stage were "sealed"for a long time is ignored. Based on an incorrect chronological definition of the Nisian clay sculpture(13), the time of functioning of the Square Hall was unnecessarily extended and the Sasanian conquest was recognized as the reason for its destruction. M. E. Massa criticized the idea that Nisa was the capital of the Parthian state, but accepted A. A. Marushchenko's assumption about its initial functioning as a royal residence, which later became the capital of the due to the appearance of burials of "Senior" Arshakids and the increasingly rare visits of representatives of the ruling dynasty, it has become "a special protected fortress", a kind of memorial associated with the veneration of the first Arshakid kings.

G. A. Pugachenkova, when considering the functions of a Square Hall, at first hesitated between defining it as a palace or a temple. But after the formation of a general concept about the gradual change in the functions of the Old Nisa, she began to insist more and more strongly on its initial use as a reception hall (14).

As a result of subsequent discoveries, this hypothesis was somewhat corrected, but in general it continued to be defended. First of all, the ideas about the time of the appearance of the Nisa have changed. Initially, it was assumed that it was founded by the first Arsacid kings, respectively, the time of its construction referred to the second half of the III century BC. e. After the discovery of written documents mentioning the ancient name of the fortress (Mihrdatkirt)(15) The foundation of Old Nisa was associated with the activities of one of the most prominent Parthian kings, Mithridates I(c.171-138 BC) (16).

Burials of Parthian kings within the Old Nisa have not been found. A. A. Marushchenko's proposed definition of a building with a Square hall as a mausoleum was rejected(17), but the very idea of connecting the ancient settlement with the burials of Parthian kings continued to live on. Emphasis was placed on the existence of the funeral cult of the Parthian kings.

A. A. Marushchenko's assumption about the correspondence of Nisian structures to Zoroastrian ideological guidelines was taken as evidence. The basis for this opinion was the idea that Zoroastrianism occupied a dominant position in the Arsacid state and the majority of Iranians professed Zoroastrianism or similar beliefs. These ideas were reinforced in the following years:


(13) L. I. Rempel suggested that the Nisian sculpture should be dated to the second century AD (Tr. YUTAKE, vol. 1, 1949, pp. 355-362). Cf. Pilipko, V. N., Head in a helmet from Staraya Nisa, VDI, 1989, No. 3.

(14) Pugachenkova G. A. Architectural monuments of Nisa // Tr. TYUTAKE. Vol. 1. 1949. p. 239 el.; it is the same. Interpretation and typology of some architectural monuments of Merv and Nisa // Tr. YUTAKE, vol. 16, 1978, pp. 19-21.

(15) Dyakonov I. M., Livshits V. A. Dokumenty iz Nisa I vv. B.C. Predvaritel'nye itogi rabot [Documents from the Nisa of the first century B.C. Preliminary results of works]. Moscow, 1990, p.223.

(16) Pugachenkova. Art of Turkmenistan, p. 37.

(17) A. A. Marushchenko assumed that auxiliary rooms of the south-western facade were used as burial chambers, but, as subsequent studies showed, these rooms appeared late and no traces of burials were found in them.

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I. M. Dyakonov and V. A. Livshits, the main researchers of Nisian written documents, noted that among the names used in them there is not a single one that would be unacceptable for a follower of Zoroastrianism, the Young Avestan calendar is used in Nisian records management, and among the officials who were related to the Nisian complex, magicians and other scholars are mentioned. priest of fire (18). To explain the Nisian rites, we used information from the Sasanian collection "A Thousand Judicial Decisions" about traditional memorial contributions for the Iranian society[19].

These ideas about the undoubted close connection of Nisan monuments with Zoroastrian ritual institutions also had a great influence on researchers involved in determining the functional purpose of the Old Nisa and its individual structures. Zoroastrianism is not conceived without temples of fire, so this definition was persistently "tried on" to the Nisian monuments. Sometimes such functions were attributed to a tower-like structure[20]. G. A. Koshelenko suggested that such a building can be considered a square hall [21].

Archaeological excavations on Nis temporarily ceased in the mid-1960s, and discussions about the definition of Nis structures continued(22). But they clearly lacked factual material to address the issues raised. In fact, how can one argue about the purpose of the main structures of the Central Complex (ZKZ, BS, SKZ), if the excavations of these objects are not completed and even their layout is not fully defined? Under these conditions, the Parthian expedition of the Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences of the TSSR under the leadership of the author of these notes in 1979 begins further investigation of the ZKZ and BS[23]. The completion of the building with a Square Hall was delayed for 12 years, and the study of the Tower-like structure is still far from completion. The choice of the ZKZ as the primary object of additional research was to some extent determined by disagreement with the opinion of G. A. Pugachenkova, who defined the Square Hall as one of the elements of the "palace"; I think it is more legitimate to define it as an independent architectural object.

The main achievements of the last cycle of excavations of the ZKZ were as follows: its layout was clarified at the last stage of operation, it became possible to get a general idea of the original layout of the ZKZ, new materials were obtained for judging the decorative decoration of the building, well-preserved heads of clay statues were discovered for the first time, it was established that the ZKZ there are no traces of its use in the Late Parthian period, i.e. the period of operation of the ZKZ and the entire Central Complex was much shorter than previously thought [24]. But along with these triumphant reports about the achievements of the latest archaeological research, we should also state a less joyful result: the hope of finding finds that clearly indicate the purpose of this structure has finally collapsed.

During the excavation of the Tower-like structure, many observations were made that clarify its structure[25]. But the most important discovery related to its excavation,


(18) Diakonov, Livshits. Documents from the Nisa... p. 23 el.; onizhe. New finds... p. 148 el.

(19) Perikhanyan A. G. Society and Law of Iran in the Parthian and Sasanian periods. Moscow, 1983.

(20) Pugachenkova. Ways of development ... p. 102.

(21) Koshelenko G. A. Kul'tura Parfii [Culture of Parthia], Moscow, 1966, p. 181; onzhe. Homeland of the Parthians ... pp. 53-56.

(22) Pugachenkova, On interpretation...

(23) Some time later, other expeditions started investigating the architectural monuments of the Central Complex. The LOIA expedition of the USSR Academy of Sciences under the leadership of V. M. Masson studied the North-eastern structure. The expedition of the IA of the USSR Academy of Sciences under the leadership of G. A. Koshelenko, and then the expedition of the University of Turin under the leadership of A. Invernizzi continued to excavate the Structure with a round hall.

(24) Pilipko. Staraya Nisa... pp. 86-88.

(25) A brief description of the structure of the Tower-like structure, taking into account the latest discoveries, is given above.

page 107


The discovery of a story wall painting was the first such discovery in the long history of studying the Nisa and other Arshakid monuments in Southern Turkmenistan. More than two dozen large and small fragments of plaster with traces of images of people and animals were found. Heavily crushed fragments of the painting were found not on the walls, but in garbage dumps, so it is extremely difficult to judge the presented subjects. Initial processing of the finds still suggests that in one of the rooms on the second floor there was a frieze representing the collision of two groups of horsemen. These could be illustrations of Parthian myths or real events in Parthian history. If we assume that the painting reflects real political events, then it may be some scenes of the Saco-Parthian wars of the second half of the second century BC, which were a great test for the Parthian state. Two Parthian kings died in battles with nomads, and only Mithridates II (123-88 BC). he took revenge "for the insults inflicted on his ancestors."

It is necessary to mention one more category of finds found in garbage dumps associated with the repair work in the ZKZ and BS-ostraks with Parthian inscriptions. Due to the incomplete preservation of the inscriptions, they are difficult to decipher, however, it is established that these are mainly lists of some issues. An interesting document written on a large piece of huma(26) stands out. Only the middle part of the inscription has been preserved. Therefore, there is no complete picture of the content of the text, but it is clear that this is a letter or a draft of a letter outlining the royal order. This document is an important proof that the Arsacid kings directly controlled the activities of the Nisian center.

Excavations in the 80s and early 90s provided extensive additional material for studying the history of Old Nisa, although our expectations were not met in part. When I started to dig, I really hoped that some objects would be found that would shed light on the purpose of the Central Complex or its individual structures. However, excavations have shown that A. A. Marushchenko was right when he claimed that on the eve of its destruction, the buildings of the Central Complex were empty for a long time and all objects related to their functioning were removed from there. The discovery of a large new cluster of clay sculpture fragments has revived expectations for a while. We received significant new information about the appearance of the characters who decorated the Square Hall, but we could not answer the seemingly simple question: who do the Nisian statues represent-gods or real people? Among the sculpture fragments found in the Square Hall, there are both male and female images, represented by approximately equal numbers (the total number of statues is not less than nine). Most of the characters wear Hellenistic clothing, with women draped in colorful long capes, and men wearing Greek-made helmets and armor. At the same time, there are characters dressed in caftans with narrow ruffled sleeves, characteristic of the Iranian costume. With particular care, I looked for signs of royal power. In the Arsacid environment, such were the diadem, hryvnia and belt. But none of the preserved heads showed any traces of tiaras and grivnas. Another important "ethnic" feature is also missing : male Parthian nobles wore earrings, but the heads in helmets and the head of a young man are depicted without earrings, i.e. their belonging to the representatives of the Parthian nobility is doubtful. At the same time, the findings of images of hands in long ruffled sleeves definitely indicate the presence of sculptural images of some representatives of the Iranian world in the hall. Despite all these fluctuations, it is still obvious that it is wrong to define all the statues of the Square Hall as images of representatives of the ruling dynasty(27).


(26) Pilipko. Staraya Visa... P. 152 (ostrak No. 3).

(27) S. Pugachenkova. To the interpretation ... p. 19.

page 108


As I set out to dig Nisa and observe the ease with which new hypotheses are born, I took a sort of vow of silence, trying to avoid any generalizations until the excavation of the Central Complex was completed(28). But life has shown the failure of such attitudes. Excavations on Nis are so sluggish that if you remain faithful to the " vow " there is a real danger of losing the word altogether. In these circumstances, while remaining confident that the conditions for a truly scientific discussion of the question of the purpose of the Old Nisa will appear only after the complete excavation of the Central Complex, I risk making a few assumptions of my own.

Most researchers who have interpreted the materials of the Nisii excavations proceed from three assumptions that are considered fully proven or do not require proof. First: the correspondence of the Nisa in Baghir to the ancient Parthavnisa with the following consequences: the main military and commercial road of the Arsacid period passed through the Kopet-Dagh foothills; on one of the Baghir fortresses or in their immediate vicinity there are burials of Parthian kings. Second: Old Nisa is the royal residence. Third: the religious buildings of Old Nisa are associated with Zoroastrian beliefs, and first of all with the funeral cult of kings. All these three postulates now cause me great doubts.

I have devoted a special article to the question of the possibility of identifying Parthavnisa with the Bagir Nisa(29). Here I will present only a summary of it. The possibility of such an identification cannot be categorically denied, but there are great doubts about its consistency with the truth. In various historical epochs, the main road from Tehran to Herat passed through the central mountain valleys of the Turkmen-Khorosan Mountains, this is the shortest and most convenient way connecting these two points, the so-called Big Khorosan Road. Bagheer is located off this road. Written documents found on the Old Nisa indicate that this fortress was called "Mihrdatkirt", and the name" Nisa " is not mentioned in them. In Parthavnis, according to Isidore of Charak, there were graves of Parthian kings; in Staraya Nisa, despite a significant amount of archaeological excavations that affected all relatively large areas of development, burial structures have not been found and there are no signs of their existence.

Old Nisa-the residence of the Parthian kings. Given the lack of information about the early stages of the settlement's functioning, it is impossible to confirm or refute this assumption. It is quite possible that the Old Nisa was originally conceived and built as a royal residence. However, when making this assumption, you should also assume that the object's functions have changed dramatically over time. The Central Complex that emerged as a result of the radical reconstruction of the former building should most likely be defined as a temple ensemble, and not a palace and temple complex. Its main elements - a building with a Square hall, a tower-like structure and a Round hall-are clearly of religious significance. As for the North-Eastern structure, which has been defined as a "palace" since the time of A. A. Marushchenko, it is one of the least studied objects and its definition even at the level of the most common typological assessments (cult - secular) is difficult. It is quite possible that this is some kind of auxiliary part of the temple ensemble. In any case, no premises that could be defined as the royal chambers have yet been discovered within its borders.

In connection with the discussion of the possibility of considering the Old Nisa as a royal residence, it is necessary to note the continuing presence in Lita-


(28) This, for example, explains the practical lack of reasoning on this topic in my work " Old Nisa. A building with a square hall."

(29) Pilipko V. N. K voprosu o lokalizatsii Parfavnisa [On the question of localization of Parthavnisa]. Izv. AN TSSR. Ser. obshchestv, nauk. 1989. N2.

page 109


The author defines it as "the first Parthian capital" (30). We need to remind you:

Even M. E. Massey drew attention to the fact that there is no mention of Nis (Parthavnis)in written sources as the capital of the Arsacids (31). Bagheera was an important Arsacid administrative center, and when the Parthian kings moved within the confines of their vast state, they undoubtedly stopped there occasionally. In this sense, it can be called a royal (capital) city. But all this should be attributed to the settlement of Novaya Nisa, excluding the epithet "first" from use, since Asaak or Dara have more grounds for claiming primacy. The application of the definition of "capital" to the ancient settlement of Staraya Nisa is generally unacceptable.

Nisa's religious buildings reflect Zoroastrian beliefs. The argument in favor of this thesis is given above, but it is possible to give counter-arguments. The most vivid material expression of the beliefs of the Zoroastrian circle is indeed the temples of fire. Despite persistent searches, no such structure was found on Staraya Nisa. ZKZ, BS, as well as the Round Hall, cannot be identified as such - there are no traces of the existence of large stationary fire altars(32). The "Zoroastrian" names of service personnel, the use of the Avestan calendar reflect the general ideological situation in the region and cannot be used as a decisive argument in the question of the purpose of Nisian temples created at the behest of representatives of the ruling dynasty. It should be noted that, according to the Nisian documents, the main role in ensuring the activities of the Nisian complex belonged to the royal administration, and not to the Zoroastrian priesthood, which, judging by the rare mention, played a secondary role here. Its representatives, along with other minor officials, were engaged in the delivery of wine(33). Anthropomorphic images, secular themes of wall paintings, and the predominance of Greek elements in the design of Nisian buildings do not correspond to Zoroastrian ideological attitudes and everyday realities. Scientific literature has repeatedly expressed doubts about whether the Parthian kings were orthodox Zoroastrians[34].

The images and inscriptions on Arsacid coins, which were an important means of ideological propaganda, do not show clear evidence of the Arsacids ' commitment to Zoroastrianism. The coins show scenes of the Parthian king's wedding by Hellenistic deities, and sometimes the king himself was depicted as a Greek Zeus. The only character of Iranian origin is the "archer", in which you can most likely see the divine founder of the Parthian state-Arshak I. The inscriptions on the coins of the Parthian kings strongly emphasize their friendly attitude towards the Hellenes and do not say anything about their commitment to Mazdaism, as did their Iranian predecessors-the Achaeminids and their successors-the Sassanids.

All of the above makes us look for a different solution to the Nis problem. In this respect, the assumption that the Old Nisa functions as a dynastic center, i.e., an architectural complex designed to promote the idea of the divine origin of the ruling dynasty or its individual representatives, seems promising. Previous publications have repeatedly identified Staraya Nisa as a special protected fortress, a dynastic sanctuary, and references to the syncretic nature of the ruling dynasty's beliefs, but these definitions remained undisclosed or were based on the above dubious assumptions. It is also necessary to note the distribution of-


(30) Chaumont M.-L. Etudes d'histoire parthe II. Capitales et residences des premiers Arsacides // Syria. 1973. 50; Invernizzi A. Die hellenistischen Grundlagen der friihparthischen Kunst // Archaeologische Mitteilungen aus Iran. Bd 27. 1994. S. 193.

(31) Masson. Ancient settlements of Nyssa... P. 37-39.

(32) Pichikyan I. R. Kul'tura Baktrii [Culture of Bactria], Moscow, 1991, pp. 144-157.

(33) Diakonov, Livshits. New finds... pp. 147-154.

(34) Dyakonov M. M. Ocherk istorii drevnego Irana [Essay on the history of ancient Iran]. Moscow, 1961, p. 236 p.

page 110


There is no doubt about the gradual sacralization of the Nisii complex, while, in my opinion, the Central Nisa complex was originally intended to glorify and deify the ruling king and the entire dynasty. For this reason, the author does not claim priority in such an assessment of the Nis complex, but only a different emphasis, a different system of evidence.

Deification of the king is not typical of the Iranian environment, where the king usually acted as a high priest when the secular and religious branches of government merged. But the formation of royal power in Parthia had its own peculiarities (35). The founder of the state, Arshak, initially acted as the leader of a nomadic tribe, the first among equals, and his power was largely regulated by tribal customs. After the conquest of Parthia (corresponding to the Partava of Persian sources, a small, relatively poor region), the power of Arshak and his closest successors did not increase much, and its external design hardly changed much. When, under Mithridates I, in one or two decades, Parthia turned from a small domain that barely defended its independence into a huge empire that subjugated many peoples in the Middle and Middle East, there was a need for a qualitatively new external design of the institution of royal power. The nomadic past of their valiant but poor and easy-going ancestors, and the customs of the Parthians, who had never had a state of their own, could not offer a worthy basis for the outward appearance of the royal greatness of the Arsacids in their new capacity. The traditions of the Achaemenid period were largely forgotten for many years, and the inglorious demise of this association at first did not inspire much desire to follow its example in everything. The only worthy example to follow in this period was the corresponding institutions of the Hellenistic rulers of Bactria and Syria. Mithridates I skillfully used these samples, giving them the necessary Iranian flavor. Among other things, the tradition of deification of the king was probably borrowed(36). Initially, the founder of the state, Arshak, was deified, then his successors on the Parthian throne began to be endowed with the divine essence, and in the end, the divine origin was recognized for every Arshakid, regardless of his official status. Despite the scarcity of sources, the Seleucid basis of this new institution for Parthian society can still be traced. The Parthians, following the Seleucids, call their king god on a number of early coins (37). Borrowing to a certain extent was mechanical in nature, and this can be seen in the example of the image of the "Seleucid anchor".

In the Seleucid milieu, the anchor was revered as a family badge of the ruling dynasty, but the Parthians took it as one of the symbols of royal power; for a long time it is present on Arsacid coins. It is noteworthy that terracotta slabs with the image of an anchor are also represented on the Old Nisa.

There is reason to believe that it was the Arsacids who first introduced the idea of the divine origin of the king into the Iranian ideology. This attractive one


(35) G. A. Koshelenko, who devoted a special article to this problem (Tsarist power and its justification in Early Parthia, Istoriya Iranskogo gosudarstva i kul'tury [History of the Iranian State and Culture], Moscow, 1971), actively studied the issues of ideological justification of the tsarist power in Parthia. The main ideas put forward in this work do not raise objections (the Arshakids who seized power by force later tried to strengthen it by referring to their divine origin), but I disagree with the author of this work in determining the time of the formation of the dynastic cult in Parthia. G. A. Koshelenko believes that this happened during the lifetime of the founder of the state Arshak I. In my opinion, the necessary conditions for the formation of this idea were formed only under Mithridates I. G. A. Koshelenko's argument is largely based on the definition of coins with the legend "[coin] of the king, divine Arshak " as belonging to the coinage of Arshak I, but according to the latest numismatic studies, they are usually attributed to the coinage of Mithridates 1 (Sellwood D. An Introduction to the Coinage of Parthia. L? 1980. Type 10,5).

(36) On the royal and dynastic cult in the Seleucid state and in Greco - Bactria, see Bikerman E. Seleucid state, Moscow, 1985; Koshelenko G. A., Serditykh Z. S. Tsar's Cult in Greco-Bactria / / Problems of ideology and culture in early class formations, Moscow, 1986.

(37) Sr. Koshelenko. Royal power...

page 111


for unlimited monarchs, the idea was later taken up by the Kushans and Sasanians. The most eloquent recent document covering the organization of the royal cult under Kanishk I is the Rabatak inscription, in which the great Iranian gods act as patrons of an equal king(38).

Borrowing the practice of deification of the king in the Hellenistic environment may have led to the fact that Iranian elements do not play a leading role in the Old Persian monuments. The Nisa uses separate Iranian planning schemes borrowed from Achaemenid architecture, but in general the spirit of Hellenism prevails. The Nisian monuments refute rather than confirm the Zoroastrian orthodoxy of the Arsacid kings. The" older " Arsacids probably favored Zoroastrian ideas, as they did most of the other religions that flourished in their state, but they did not follow them themselves. This position is logically explained by the fact that in the Zoroastrian (or close to Zoroastrianism) environment there was a cult object of a different direction, and the Zoroastrian priesthood, in order to confirm its loyalty, was forced to participate in the administration of the rites performed here. Magicians are mentioned very rarely in Nisian documents and as minor characters.

This approach to the definition of the Nisii complex frees us from the constant excuses for not finding royal burials, missing palaces and temples of fire (although their discovery will not lead to the collapse of the proposed hypothesis) and at the same time opens up opportunities for finding new ways to solve problems.

OLD NISA. THE PROBLEM OF INTERPRETATION

V.N. Pilipko

The article exposes the history of general concepts about the nature of Old Nisa site. Most scholars identify Old Nisa with Parthaunisa mentioned by Isidore of Charax. On this ground Old Nisa is seen as the place of burial and worship of early Arsakid rulers. The worship is supposed to have been according to Zoroastrian ritual tradition, and one of the main buildings of Nisa was the Temple of Fire. At the same time Nisa was, as they think, royal residence and even the first Arsakid capital.

The author denies all these ideas. The identification of Nisa in Baghir with Parthaunisa is proved to be problematic. Old Nisa might have been built and originally used as royal residence, but later its functions changed crucially. After the construction of the Central complex it was turned into a dynastic cult centre. The establishment of Arsakid-dynastic cult is to be dated back to the period of Mithridates I and was based not on the Zoroastrian tradition, but on relevant institutions of Hellenistic Bactrian and Syrian rulers.


(38) Sims-Williams N., Cribb J. A New Bactrian Inscription of Kanishka the Great // Silk Road Art and Archaeology. Kamakura, 1995/1996. N 4.


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