Treasures from the Oxus: The Art and Civilization of Central Asia

Massimo Vidale (Author)
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In history, this grand arterial 1500-mile waterway was always seen as the natural frontier between the northern provinces of the Iranian empires and the outer Turanian lands. It was for centuries central to Achaemenid and later Persian power. But, as the author shows, it has a prehistory which goes very much further back: and a succession of skilled yet still elusive Bronze Age cultures flourished here well before the rise of Cyrus the Great in the 6th century BCE. This richly illustrated book explores the fascinating history, art and archaeology of the region, including its primal trade in silk and foodstuffs; the mineral wealth of the Oxus basin; its exotic myths and beliefs; and the converging tribes and peoples which led to a new stability, economic growth and urbanism. The volume contains 150 full-colour photographs of notable artefacts, including silver decorated vessels, inlaid stone pots, agate beads and 25 'Bactrian Princesses': remarkable statuettes made in chlorite and limestone. Most of these rare objects have never been seen, let alone published, before.

Product Details

I. B. Tauris & Company
Publish Date
September 26, 2017
9.6 X 1.0 X 11.5 inches | 3.9 pounds
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About the Author

Massimo Vidale is Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology at the University of Padua where he lectures on ancient crafts and cultures. An internationally prominent scholar of the archaeology and material culture of the Bronze Age, he has held Chairs at the universities of Bologna, Genoa and Rome. His previous books, published in English and Italian, include The Archaeology of Indus Crafts (2000), What is Ethnoarchaeology? (2004) and Ceramics and Archaeology (2007).


"Archaeologist and accomplished academic Vidale (Near Eastern archaeology, Univ. of Padua) provides a state-of-the-art summary for nonspecialists by distilling archaeological and art historical sources on Central Asia's riverine-oriented Oxus civilization (Neolithic through Iron Age, 7200-1300 BCE), located in the Amu Darya Basin and Murghab Delta. Ricciardi's magnificent color photographs support the narrative; 122 of 174 illustrations detail objects from private collections never or rarely seen by scholars. Endpapers provide excellent maps of the region; there are 179 endnotes and a 245-item bibliography...The volume emphasizes art rather than civilization yet is important for specialists and appropriate for students and the general public. Essential. All levels/libraries."

--Choice Connect