this issue
previous article in this issuenext article in this issue

Document Details :

Title: Oxus Trumpets, ca. 2200-1800 BCE
Subtitle: Material Overview, Usage, Societal Role, and Catalog
Author(s): LAWERGREN, Bo
Journal: Iranica Antiqua
Volume: 38    Date: 2003   
Pages: 41-118
DOI: 10.2143/IA.38.0.136

Abstract :
Oxus trumpets (fig. 1) differed significantly and occupied a niche usually not considered musical8. Still, they were true trumpets: the player’s vibrating lips made the sound and the instrument’s acoustical properties determined the pitch. Their short lengths (ca. 8 cm) resulted in high pitches and soft sound, a combination that rendered them useless for signals and music but enabled them to mimick animal calls. During the 1970s many Oxus trumpets were looted from the desert region of southern Bactria and soon surfaced in the antiquity markets of Kabul9. Lacking stratigraphic information, their dates and context are lost, but their lineage had been established by their similarity to trumpets scientifically excavated at Iranian sites (Tepe Hissār [or Tappeh Hesār], Shahdād, and Astrābād). Since the latter are dated 2200 – 1800 BCE, this is also the likely period for the Bactrian corpus. Finally, removing any uncertainty, five trumpets were recently excavated at Gonur, a site in the region of Margiana, 400 km west of Bactria. All are similar to the Bactrian corpus. Oxus trumpets predate other extant trumpets, such as those of Tutankhamun (1350 BCE) and recently discovered examples of the proto-shofār (1300 BCE).

Download article