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HOME : Near Eastern Art : Bactrian Art : Bactrian Silver Ring Featuring a Gold Seal Depicting a Ruler
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Bactrian Silver Ring Featuring a Gold Seal Depicting a Ruler - X.0465
Origin: Central Asia
Circa: 300 BC to 100 BC
Dimensions: 1" (2.5cm) high x .875" (2.2cm) wide x .875" (2.2cm) depth
Collection: Near Eastern
Medium: Silver and Gold

Location: United States
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In the history of the ancient world, Bactria is somewhat of an anomaly: a Greek kingdom in what is now Afghanistan. That Greek civilization penetrated so far into Central Asia is quite astounding in itself. When Alexander the Great conquered the Persian Empire, he acquired all its outlying provinces including Bactria. Greek forces then established and maintained control in Bactria even after the collapse of the Alexander’s Kingdom. Bactria was at first part of the eastern section of Alexander's Kingdom, which was ruled by the Seleucids. There was extensive immigration of Greeks and the creation of Greek cities. These cities were built on the Greek model and included such pillars of Greek culture as gymnasiums and amphitheatres. Later Bactria asserted its independence and expanded its holdings to the upper reaches of the Indus River Valley. The Greek State in Bactria lasted for another two centuries, until it was finally overwhelmed by the nomadic tribesmen of the area and was eventually absorbed into the Kushan Empire.

This silver ring features a golden seal mounted into the bezel that depicts a representation of a Bactrian king hammered into the metal. Seal rings were popular throughout the ancient Near East. They were used by rulers and merchants to seal correspondences and shipments to minimize tampering by foreign parties. The seal would be pressed into wet clay or hot wax, leaving behind the image of the bust of a king. If the seal was broken before arriving at its intended location, the person receiving the letter would know that its authenticity had been compromised. While this ring might have once been worn by a Bactrian ruler such as King Diodotus I, it is also possible that it belonged to a member of the royal family or a nobleman closely associated with the ruling elite. The luxurious nature of the materials supports its royal pedigree, since seals made of lesser materials such as stone were much more common. Today, this ring is a fascinating reminder of the history and culture of the Bactrian civilization that once ruled over the crossroads between East and West.
- (X.0465)


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