YOU ARE HERE:>>REAL or FAKE>>Bactrian chlorite composite figurines, 3
So, first to remind ourselves what properly attested examples of these very rare things look like.
What do you make of these?
All offered ( and indeed, all sold!) by the same seller on eBay all within a month or two!
What I'd like to do now is get hold of a few such as these and examine them under a binocular microscope. Have you got one you would like to lend me for such examination?
There are problems when trying to compare new examples on the market with those which are already known in museums.
First of all, why are all the "new" examples seemingly with male heads while the literature refers to female figurines?
Next, there are doubts raised about some very well known pieces in museums.
This one in the Miho museum has a new, modern, head.
Oscar White Muscarella writes in The Lie Became Great.........
He writes about these two as well......
- We need to subject some of the probable fakes previously shown to special examination.
- We need to see if we can find evidence of modern tool marks on any.
- We need to find out if there are scientific methods to characterise the specific type of chlorite used in these statues*. However, unless otherwise definitely authenticated pieces with archaeological provenance have also been thus analysed and the results published somewhere, we will not be able to proceed any further along these lines.
- And again, repeating what I raised before, are there any adequately aunthenticated examples which are clearly males?
Because it is widely available in Persia and easily worked, chlorite has been used for millennia in the production of objects ranging from small beads and cylinder seals to large tombstones. The complex cell structure of chlorites consists of layers resembling those of mica and brucite in alternation. They occur fairly commonly in metamorphic stone deposits extending nearly the entire length of the Zagros range. Massive deposits of chlorite are also said to exist in the metamorphic zone near Zāhedān in eastern Persia.
Owing to the varied chemical composition and relative abundance of chlorite on the Persian plateau, it is exceedingly difficult to identify or "fingerprint" chemically specific deposits and thus to deduce patterns of exchange from comparison of the composition of trace elements in artifacts with those from known sources of the mineral. In one X-ray diffraction study of chlorites primarily from the Persian plateau (Kohl, Harbottle, and Sayre), however, it was possible, through semiquantitative analysis of basal-plane peak intensities, to distinguish at least four separate sources of chlorite used in antiquity.
Chlorite ranges in color from light gray to deep green and darkens when exposed to fire; it was highly valued during certain prehistoric periods. Elaborate stone vessels carved with repeating designs, both geometric and naturalistic, in an easily recognizable "intercultural style" were made primarily of chlorite; a number were produced at the important site of Tepe Yahya (Yaḥyā) southeast of Kermān in the middle and late 3rd millenniumBC. Some of these vessels were painted natural colour (dark green) and inlaid with pastes and shell, and some have even been found with cuneiform inscriptions referring to rulers and known Sumerian deities. More than 500 vessels and vessel fragments carved in this style have been recovered from sites ranging from Soviet Uzbekistan and the Indus Valley (e.g., Mohenjo-daro) in the east to Susa (de Miroschedji) and all the major Sumerian sites in Mesopotamia including Mari, in the west and to the Persian Gulf, particularly Tarut (Zarins) and the Failaka islands, in the south. Although the exact means by which these vessels were exchanged is uncertain, the evidence from analytical X-ray diffraction is unequivocal: The materials came from multiple sources. More than 80 percent of the materials analyzed were pure chlorites. Only a small proportion of objects carved in this style, chiefly from the site of Bismaya (Adab) in southern Mesopotamia, were made from steatite (talc), which is equally abundant and mineralogically related to chlorite but is softer (1.0 on the Moh's scale) and has a soapier texture (hence the popular term "soapstone"). Artifacts of chlorite and similar soft green minerals have frequently and mistakenly been identified as made of steatite in the literature.
Slightly later, probably at the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC, chlorites or compounds containing chlorite were used for small high-necked ointment jars, for compartmented bowls with curving or straight sides, and even for lidded vessels, some of them incised with relatively primitive representations of snakes and other animals. Typically these later chlorite artefacts were decorated with simple dot-in-circle designs formed by multiple drilling with tubular drills. They were also widely distributed, occurring as far east as northwestern Afghanistan (Ligabue and Salvatori,) and as far south as Oman. Their use seems to have been less restricted than that of the earlier vessels, however, at least, they no longer functioned exclusively as luxury items charged with religious and symbolic significance.
BibliographyMuch to think about .....
Updates soon I hope.