Restoration and museumification of the mosaic panels, discovered during the excavations of the Gonur-Depe, were completed

The Museum of Fine Arts of Turkmenistan hosted a completion ceremony of the next Turkmen restorers' project, supported on a competitive basis by the US Ambassador's Fund for Cultural Preservation. This year, there were completed restoration works under its auspices on the reconstruction and museumification of unique mosaic panels, discovered several years ago during excavations of the Bronze Age monument of Gonur Depe. Expedition under the supervision of the famous archaeologist, academician Victor Sarianidi handed over these priceless finds to the Museum of Fine Arts, where during three years, it was carried out meticulous work on the preservation of fragile articles of ancient art and reproduction of their original appearance.

These mosaic ornamental and plot compositions have no analogues in the art of the Ancient East, so their discovery is a scientific sensation.

Gonur Depe is an archaeological monument currently well known in our country and abroad, which was a major commercial and cultural center of the ancient state � Margush, about four thousand years ago, acknowledged as one of five development centers of the world civilization along with Mesopotamia, Egypt, India and China. Fragments of the mosaic decoration and decorative art works of the late 3rd-early 2nd Millennium BC, discovered in rich underground tombs of Gonur, were intended for decoration of a few elite tombs' interiors. They significantly broaden and augment the modern idea of the culture development level of the Turkmen people's ancestors, who lived in the Bronze Age.

Mosaics from the Royal burials of Gonur have survived in the form of separate fragments and oddments. For all the variety of this kind of findings, the mosaic compositions similar to carpet ornaments, already known and scrutinized, are of particular interest. Archaeologists also found the prints of textiles, decayed long ago and a piece of cloth, miraculously preserved until today due to nuzzling together with the bronze utensils for several thousand years and sopping up with its oxides. Via radiocarbon analysis, it was fixed relatively exact age of the items. All these data carry inference not only about the weaving antiquity in our country, but also about the possible origins of the carpet weaving art.

Another interesting group of mosaic panels from Gonur-Depe, presented at the exhibition opened today, displays multi-figured narrative scenes with real and fantastic animals. On the one hand � snakes, dragons, wolves, leopards, and with another � goats, argali, deer, hares, fishes embody one of the leading ideas of that distant time � the fight between Good and Evil. According to scientists, in ancient times the various fauna scenes served for figurative reflection of the change of seasons � the incoming of spring and celebration of Novruz. Such plots as those ones, depicted on numerous seals and amulets of Margiana, and also exhibits of the exposition, were a kind of thesis or compendia of myths, being popular among the Margush people.

The collected mosaic compositions' reconstruction and preservation were accomplished by the employees of two State Historical-Cultural Reserves � Ancient Merv and Abiverd with the assistance of invited experts of the State Research Institute for Restoration under the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation. A special indoor pavilion, resembling in form and proportions the Royal tombs of Gonur, was made to store and display rare exhibits in the ancient art hall.

The Fund, which allocated a grant for the implementation of this intention, is a Programme of the US government, providing support for foreign projects, focused on the conservation of archeological excavations, restoration of historical buildings, museum collections, manuscripts and rare printed editions, documentation of traditional forms of music, dance and language. In Turkmenistan, the US Ambassador's Fund for Cultural Preservation took part in realization of more than 20 different projects. Three of them are carried out in the Museum of Fine Arts. Besides the Gonur mosaics, these are conservation of the monumental reliefs from the Zoroastrian temple Mele Heyran, located in Serakhs oasis, and existed for about fifteen hundred years ago, and the reconstruction of the 15th century ornamental mosaics from the facade of the Seyit Jemaleddin mosque in Anau.

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States to Turkmenistan Allan Mustard took the floor at the presentation of this project outcome, highly appreciating the Turkmen restorers' work and wished them new achievements in the national heritage preservation.

Source: Turkmenistan State News Agency-TDH