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LOT 0220

GBP (£) 50,000 - 70,000
EUR (€) 58,330 - 81,660
USD ($) 64,490 - 90,280

Opening Bid
£45,000 (EUR 52,497; USD 58,040) (+bp*) Add to Watch list

Large Western Asiatic Sogdian Gilt Silver Plaque with Elephant

6th century AD

A large silver-gilt disc plaque with band of repoussé bosses between raised concentric borders; central panel with profile head of an elephant, domesticated and bearing two ribbed collars on the tusk and a hatched collar to the neck; four attachment holes to the border. 804 grams, 23cm (9"). Very fine condition; some cracking and usage wear.

Property of a London gentleman; previously with Boisgirard Antonini, Paris, sale 9, 2013, lot 76 [Front Cover]; accompanied by a copy of positive metallurgic analytical results, written by metallurgist Dr. Peter Northover (ex Department of Materials, Materials Science-Based Archaeology Group & Department of Materials, University of Oxford), dated 1992 and a copy of the relevant Boisgirard Antonini catalogue pages.

The ancient lands of Sogdia (or Sogdiana) were never a political union but rather a loose regional grouping of territories centred on the city of Samarkand in modern Uzbekistan. Sogdia at various times included territory in present-day Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, north of the ancient territory of Bactria. Their name (Old Persian Suguda) is based on the same root-form which also gave rise to the name 'Scythia' and refers to the act of shooting a bow.
Sogdia came to the attention of ancient writers when it was conquered by Cyrus the Great, founder of the Achaemenid Empire. The region was later annexed by the Macedonian ruler Alexander the Great in 328 BC. The Sogdian language (Eastern Iranian) is the ancestor of Yaghnobi, which is still spoken in Tajikistan and was widely spoken in Central Asia, used as a lingua franca and was one of the Turkic Khaganate's official languages for documents.
Sogdian merchants travelled widely in Asia and were favoured by the government of the Tang dynasty (618–907 AD) in China, as well as the Byzantine Empire in the west, due to their part in the maintenance of the 'Silk Road' trading route. The Sogdians originally held to Zoroastrianism as their faith, and Sogdia is listed as the second land which the supreme deity Ahura Mazda had created. Later, they variously adopted Manichaeism, Buddhism and Nestorian Christianity from West Asia. Eventually, conversion to Islam began with the Muslim conquest of Transoxiana in the 8th century AD, which led to the decline in importance of their language, replaced by Persian.

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Auction Catalogue

Auction Venue:
The May Fair Hotel London
Stratton Street
Mayfair London, W1J 8LT

Viewing from noon Monday 25th November 2019
Champagne Reception: 6pm - 9pm

Tuesday 26th November 2019 (Day 1)
Lots 1-660 (Antiquities)

Auction Venue:
The Court House
363 Main Road
Harwich, CO12 4DN

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