Liz’s Object Proposal

/Liz’s Object Proposal

Liz’s Object Proposal

Object Proposal: Contextualizing Physical and Iconographical Crossroads

Ampulla of Saint Menas

  • Omeka: no info
  • 6th-7th centuries CE (similar examples at the Cleveland Museum of Art and Walters Art Gallery)
  • Further information on Columbia’s “Treasures of Heaven” and individual museum pages

Dish from Bol’ she Anikovskoe with the Siege of Jericho and Joshua Conquests

  • 9th-10th century
  • Cast, engraved and gilded silver
  • Hermitage Museum
  • Presumably from the Nestorian Milieu in 9-10th cent. SemirechÕe; Uzbekistan/Tajikistan

Ishtikhan Ossuary (or Group of Ossuaries)

  • Omeka: no info
  • Not earlier than the second half of the 7th century (Shenkar, 171 ff.)
  • Ishtikhan
  • Further information in Pavchinskaia and Pugachenkova

Ossuary, Mulla-Kurgan

  • 7th-8th century
  • Samarkand State Museum of History, Art and Architecture
  • Samarkand
  • Further information in Pavchinskaia and Pugachenkova (also see 2013 SOAS exhibit)

Goddess with adorants (possibly Daena?)

  • 6th century
  • Temple II, Northern Chapel, Panjikent
  • Further information in Shenkar (95 ff.) and Azarpay (189 ff.)

Kartikeya panel from the wooden dome in Panjikent

  • Omeka: no info
  • Carved panel of deity with peacock framed by an arched niche, wood
  • Ca. 700 CE
  • Penjikent, object XXIII, room 57
  • Drawing after Belenitskiĭ et al., p. 130, fig. 7
  • Further information in Belenitskiĭ (not in English- find further sources) and Iranica article


All of these objects speak to my three themes of geographies (situating the Sogdians), personalities and personal experiences, and syncretism. All contain representations of people and space, grounded in specific iconographies of their time. I am particularly interested in how place and space were perceived, especially through representations of architecture and attributes associated with specific sites and peoples. The ampulla of Saint Menas provides a look at an object that represents a journey and directly ties together contemporary ideas about pilgrimage, religious representation, and personal experience as well as “mass” production and commodification. The dish with the siege of Jericho uses architecture and iconography to represent what would have been a familiar story to Christian viewers, a later reinterpretation of a series of stories told from the early centuries CE through the lens of Sogdian representation. The ossuaries likewise speak to geographies (both being permanently associated with a specific place and depicting specific architecture), personal expressions through funerary iconographies, and the influences and traditions of religion on burial practices in Sogdiana. The goddess fresco comes from a specific context, the Northern Chapel of Temple II at Panjikent, and will allow for further exploration of the idea of place, specifically in a religious context, and may encourage links with texts if there are any English translations of visitors’ accounts. Finally, the Kartikeya panel is also firmly grounded in a physical context and allows a rare look at a literal part of Sogdian architecture, as well as the medium of wood that is mostly lost to us due to its poor preservation over time. The Kartikeya panel and goddess fresco both speak to religious iconographies in specific contexts, which will be presented through maps, plans, and elevations, as well as related objects (both those found in nearby contexts and those related by theme). The ampulla and dish are objects meant to be used in a personal manner during life; the ossuaries during death; and the panels in a living, changing religious context.


Azarpay, Guitty. Sogdian Painting: The Pictorial Epic in Oriental Art. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980.

Belenitskiĭ, A. M. , B. I. Marshak, and V. I. Raspopova. “Raboty na gorodishche drevnego Pendzhikenta v 1982 g.,” (Works at the settlement of ancient Panjikant in the year 1982), Arkheologicheskie Raboty v Tadzhikistane (Archeological Works in Tajikistan) 22 (1990): 105-43. As referenced in:

de la Vaissière, Étienne, trans. James Ward. Sogdian Traders: A History. Leiden: Brill, 2005.

Lerner, Judith. “Zoroastrian Funerary Beliefs and Practices Known from the Sino-Sogdian Tombs in China,” in The Silk Road 9 (2011): pp. 18-25. (Use of Book of Tang quote, look at personal narratives, reuse of iconographies, mixtures of religious practices).

Marshak, Boris. “The Archaeology of Sogdiana,” in The Silk Road Foundation Newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 2 (December 2003). (Summary of archaeological work in Sogdiana.)

Marshak, Boris. Legends, Tales and Fables in the Art of Sogdiana. New York: Bibliotheca Persica Press, 2002. (Especially discussion of ideal vs. real, p. 14 ff.)

Marshak, Boris, and V. I. Raspopova. “Worshipers from the Northern Shrine of Temple II, Panjikent.” Bulletin of the Asia Institute 8 (1994): 187–207. Accessed 14 March 2016,

Pavchinskaia, L. V. “Sogdian Ossuaries.” Bulletin of the Asia Institute 8 (1994): 209–25. Accessed 14 March 2016,

Pugachenkova, G. A. “The Form and Style of Sogdian Ossuaries.” Bulletin of the Asia Institute 8 (1994): 227–43. Accessed 14 March 2016,

Shenkar, Michael. Intangible Spirits and Graven Images: The Iconography of Deities in the Pre-Islamic Iranian World. Magical and religious literature of late antiquity 4. Boston: Brill, 2014. Accessed 14 March 2016, (See p. 171 ff. for Ishtikhan ossuaries)

Stark, Sören. “Luxurious Necessities: Some observations on foreign commodities and nomadic polities in 6th to 9th century Central Asia,” in J. Bemmann and M. Schmauder eds., Complexity of Interaction along the Eurasian Steppe Zone in the First Millennium AD: pp. 463-502. Vor- und Frühgeschichtliche Archäologie, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, 2015. (Especially Stark’s assertion that “besides their display value, it was their redistribution that turned them into political capital” (p. 473): in talking about syncretism, have to consider contemporary definitions of local/foreign, exoticism as power, difference between assimilation and incorporation.)

“Ampoule of Saint Mina,” Telling the Sogdian Story. Accessed 14 March 2016,

“Goddess with adorants from Temple II, North Chapel, Panjikent,” Telling the Sogdian Story. Accessed 14 March 2016,

“Ishtikhan Ossuary,” Telling the Sogdian Story. Accessed 14 March 2016,

“Ossuary, Mulla-Kurgan,” Telling the Sogdian Story. Accessed 14 March 2016,

“Pilgrim Flask of Saint Menas,” Columbia University. Accessed 14 March 2016,

By | 2018-01-07T14:25:20-05:00 March 15th, 2016|Liz, Object Proposals|0 Comments

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