عنوان مقاله [English]
Cultural relations and interactions in Bronze period are among the most important topics understandable by analyzing and studying the handicraft in a comparative approach. However, Khorasan cultural sphere has been nicknamed White Archaeo-logical Area due to the lack of reliable studies, although new studies have revealed small dimensions of its importance. In this respect, the research basis of this article includes semiotics, interpretation and comparative study of a silver handicraft re-covered from Shahrak Firouzeh site in Neyshabur Plain in 2008. It is a dignity good and its iconography indicates the interaction between Khorasan with the most important neighboring cultural centers in the early Bronze Age Near East, includ-ing the culture of Kerman in South East as well as Balkh-Merv in Central Asia. It seems that some designs under study are considered a common symbol of the men-tioned cultures and has probably been portrayed in iconography of the work in Shahrak Firouzeh site during a comprehensive ideological process.
Keywords: Khaorassan Great Road, Shahrak Firouze Site, Bronze Age, Intercul-Tural Symbols.
Introduction & Method
One of the most important characteristics of the Bronze Age in the Near East is in-tercultural relations which were created in different ways. There are important cen-ters in Southwest Asia, such as Elam, the southeast of Iran, Sistan Region, Sindh Valley, Central Asia and Khorasan, but the last one has the most important position in its communication rings due to its strategic location. In this cycle, the rich icono-graphy of the eastern and western regions of Iran were also found in Central Asia, and Khorasan could have a direct effect in this process. This research aims to inves-tigate the relations between the cultural centers of Iran, especially the cultural center of Khorasan, and other cultural centers including southeastern Iran, especially Kerman and Sistan, as well as the cultural centers of Central Asia during the Bronze Age based on the available data and the findings of the recent decades. The re-search specifically aims at:
A) evaluating the cultural origin and iconography of the existing motifs on the sil-ver artifact of Shahrak Firouze; b) understanding the process of collection of motifs relating to various cultural systems in one region and in a single work; and c) eval-uating the status of these motifs in the cultural region of Khorasan. In terms of ico-nography and mythological position, these motifs are considered to be associated with the iconographic systems of several cultural regions such as the southeast of Iran, especially Kerman, Sistan, Khorasan and Central Asia. Some of these motifs were used in the iconography of Khorasan due to the intercultural relations of this region with other neighboring cultural regions, Central Asia and Southeast of Iran during the New Bronze Age based on various dimensions of intercultural relations created by communication networks, especially the Great Road of Khorasan and the road ending in the southeast, and were ultimately manifested in the silver arti-fact of Shahrak Firouze as an intercultural document and in an inclusive ideological process. An investigation of the iconographic position of Khorasan based on a study of the present artifact can lead to a better understanding of the iconographic centers of the Balkhi-Marvi culture and also help identify the characteristics of the artistic motifs and styles of this culture. Accordingly, this study aims at investigat-ing the intercultural relations of Khorasan with the southeast of Iran and western Central Asia during the Bronze Age based on the iconography of the popular arti-fact of Shahrak Firouze. The present study basically seeks to find the origins of the iconographic centers of this artifact as a cultural combination and understand the backgrounds and relationships that influenced the creation of this work.
Shahrak Firouze is located in the northwest of the modern Neyshabour, within the boundaries of the newly established towns, and adjacent to the Kal Nanva River, a branch of the Faroob River, which originates from the heights of Binalood. Due to residential constructions and the construction operations within the boundaries of Shahrak Firouze, the silver dish under study was found when excavation machines were working in the region and was transferred to Neyshabour Museum. The handicraft under study is a circular shallow silver dish with a lid. It has a diameter of 28 cm and a depth of six cm. There are several animal-mythological portraits on the body of the dish in a horizontal bar and on its lid. The most important motif re-lates to two winged dragons which have been symmetrically placed opposite each other, behind which are two other combined motifs, namely, a cow attacked by a lion and a hog attacked by a lioness. The lid of the artifact also contains the motif of four male goats with short tails placed on their backs and horns in a circular and curved way, and extending to their backs. In the center of the lid and among the four motifs of the goats is a handle with an eight-leaf Lotus Flower design. A look at the interpreted motifs in the artifact of Shahrak Firouze shows the intercultural relation of this region with its neighboring regions during the Bronze Age. These concepts are abundantly shown by motifs in the neighboring cultural centers, espe-cially in the south-east of Iran and Central Asia, the latter playing a more para-mount role in this respect.
Concepts such as hogs and winged dragons are obviously among the developed iconographic concepts of Central Asia. A bearded cow can indicate intercultural re-lations and cultural integration with the southeastern regions, manifested in the arti-facts of other cultural centers in line with the complex commercial networks of the Bronze Age.
Political, economic and social interactions arise between different cultures and their surrounding regions in the third millennium BC and the era of intercultural ex-changes, and communication networks and the various needs of societies play a key role in this scenario. The relationships and actions of peoples of different cul-tural periods, especially those of the age of urbanization and intercultural exchange, are ultimately manifested in their cultural and artistic works, sometimes showing their ethnic and national victories and sometimes creating a common cultural sym-bol. Considering the fact that Shahrak-e Firouze and Neyshabour plain play an im-portant part in the production and exchange of precious goods and specialized products in the Bronze Age, its cultural position due to its establishment roughly between the three cultural regions of Central Asia, Iran’s central plateau and the south-east, and its location on the main highway of Great Khorasan caused it to have relations and actions with those cultural centers. The contractual document for these relations was manifested as a work of art with the common and unique cul-tural characteristics of each region in an elegant artifact, that is, the silver artifact obtained in Shahrak Firouze.