Riverside Riches Revealed: Exploring Persian Artifacts Unearthed from the Oxus River

A gold armlet with griffin heads from the Oxus Treasure. (British Museum/CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

The valuable treasure also includes interesting and detailed sculptures. There are small figurines and a few larger objects. Some of the figures representing males may depict priests or other people worshipping ancient deities. The largest of the known figurines shows a nude young man made of sliver. This rare artifact is more characteristic to the ancient Greek than Persian style.

Outside cultural influence may also be seen in the sculpture depicting the face of the Egyptian god Bes – a dwarf who was a protective deity; and one of the golden plaques formed in the shape of a lion or griffin which is believed to be Scythian, based on the characteristic way its legs were made.

The silver statue of the young man. (Public Domain)

Apart from this, two gold models of chariots are also very eye-catching. One of them is incomplete, but the second is in a perfect state of preservation. There were also some figures of horses and riders that almost surely belonged to this set of figurines.

Vessels, Coins, and Other Precious Treasures

Several of the vessels discovered near the Oxus River are now located in London. This group of artifacts includes a golden jug and bowls. These items were also decorated with motifs of real and mythical animals. One of the most interesting vessels is a hollow gold fish, which depicts a species of carp that is only found in the Oxus River.

The hollow gold fish vessel. (British Museum/CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

51 thin gold plaques are decorated with devotees making offerings to their deities. The plaques are shaped like rectangles. The smallest of these offering plaques is just 2 cm (0.79 inches) tall, while the biggest is ten times larger.

Finally, the coins discovered in the Oxus Treasure depicted Antiochus the Great (223-187 BC), Euthydemus I of Bactria (235 – 200 BC), and Alexander the Great. Researchers unearthed at least 521 coins. Together, these artifacts helped them date the magnificent treasure to the beginning of the 2nd century AD.

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