Ancient Central Asia, Bactrian, ca. 2500 to 2250 BCE. An intriguing wheel-shaped disc, hand-carved from chalky-white limestone. The obverse face displays a central sun with a single concentric circle between two of its points, an inner ring of twenty-nine concentric circles within individual triangles, and an exterior ring of sixty-seven additional circles. The periphery of the disc displays eighty-nine full circles and three partial circles, and the verso shows thirteen radiating sections of circles surrounding a central point. Each of the concentric circles was individually carved, likely with a hand-cranked drilling tool and with a high level of precision. This disc likely represents an early attempt at cataloguing the progression of stars through the night sky, making this an exceedingly rare example of early astrological charting! Size: 9.75" in Diameter x 2.75" H (24.8 cm x 7 cm).
While no written records of this culture exist from this time, this disc provides evidence that Bactrian society was deeply interested in the night sky and the meaning behind the movement of stars. This disc may have been used as a primitive astrological chart to track and study the progression of stars, constellations, and other celestial bodies in the night sky throughout the course of a given month or year. The singular interior star next to the sun on the obverse face perhaps represents the north star, and the twenty-nine stars and triangles surrounding it represent a rough count of the days in a month. The columns of stars on the exterior periphery roughly line up with the inner obverse circle and could have been used as a chart for the position of the moon in the heavens. The thirteen segmented sections on the verso perhaps represent the original thirteen constellations which would include Ophiuchus, the serpent-bearer. Whatever the hypotheses of its use, the true meaning of this disc has been lost to the sands of time.
Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection; ex-private collection of Mr. Tomatsu Miura, Japan, acquired in the 1980s
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