2005 seems to be a remarkably lucky year for Czech archaeologists. After several discoveries in Prague, including the original burial chamber of Emperor Charles IV, and a thousand-year-old bronze hoard of treasure uncovered two weeks ago in the town of Mlada Boleslav, archaeologists have unearthed another precious artefact just outside Prague. It is a small statue believed to depict the ancient Persian fertility goddess Anahita.
The statuette, which originally served as a seal, is made of white gypsum and portrays a kneeling woman dressed in a green cloak and wearing a gold chain. Also, what you see under her skirt, so to speak, is very explicit. All those features suggest that it is a rendering of the ancient Persian goddess of water and fertility, and patroness of women, Anahita. It is believed to have been made in Iran in the 4th or 5th century A.D. at the time of the Sasanian dynasty. Archaeologist Petr Charvat.
"The object was brought to this country from Iran most probably via the countries around the Black Sea sometime in the 5th century by a high-ranking officer of the Roman or Byzantine army who could have been of Iranian descent."
The seal was unearthed near an ancient burial ground dating back to the period of the movement of nations in the 4th and 5th centuries A.D. Archaeologists are hoping that in the vicinity they might find a rich person's grave from that time. The nearest place where similar finds have been uncovered is neighbouring Germany.
"It is a piece of evidence proving there was a cultural interchange, as some previous finds had suggested. It is another argument for the hypothesis about the arrival of Slavic tribes in the Czech lands. So far one hypothesis says they came from the Northeast and the other suggests the Southeast. This find suggests that the Slavs came from the Southeast and their arrival had been preceded by some influences and contacts with those regions."
Many archaeological finds in Europe date back to the period of the great migration in the 4th and 5th centuries. They include weapons, jewellery and harnesses and also pieces of soldiers' equipment. Similar artefacts have been found all around Europe, from the Caucasus to the Atlantic.
... and in case you weren't aware, Sally Winchester and I moderate a scholarly list called Anahita (originally started by Ross Scaife)... here's the official description:
ANAHITA-L is a scholarly list for the discussion of women and gender in the ancient Mediterranean world. Discussion topics include: women's work, legal status, social roles -- both public and private, intellectual life, religious activities, and men's views on women. The discussions should be based upon historical, archaeological, linguistic, literary and other evidence from the ancient world and the various interpretations of this evidence. There are many interpretations of the source material and we encourage a variety of approaches, including controversial authors such as Stone and Gimbutas. These latter authors may be discussed critically but they are not to be taken as the 'final word' on any topic. Some familiarity with original source material is expected.
It's been quiet of late ... it would be nice to see some more Classics-oriented discussions there. Check it out!