Orlat Belt Plaques
1st to 3rd century AD Sogdia


A larger image of the Orlat Battle Plaque

An extract from Armies of Bactria 700BC-450AD by Valerii P Nikonorov
Figure 43: (a-c) Engraved plates of bone or horn, which seem to have been the superposed details of a waist-belt, found in Barrow no. 2 of the Orlat cemetery near Samarkand (Sogdia); 1st to 3rd century AD (drawings kindly granted by S A Savchuk; see also the originals photographed in Pugachenkova G A and others, 1991, cat nos 244, 245, 248). All the pieces show enigmatic newcomers who had arrived at Sogdia in the early centuries AD from vast steppe spaces of Central or Inner Asia. (a) Battle scene between two groups of fully armoured warriors both on horseback and on foot, all belonging to one and the same nation. Certainly, a great deal should be said about their armour and weaponry, but here we just want to concentrate on the following: The combatants' tight-fitting headpieces and long armoured coats provided with high collars appear to be like, though not identical, to those in the Khalchayan sculpture (Figs 28c, d and 30a, b, g). Their bows are of the "Sasanian" type (see Fig 44m-o), deserving attention being the goryti employed: each of them consists of two sections - a quiver and case, in the latter the bow being in the strung, ready to shoot, position. Another interesting point is in the upper right corner of the scene, where the foot soldier is shown piercing his mounted foe's helmet by a battle-axe of either the chekan (Fig 6b-e) or klevets (Fig 25c) type. (b) Single combat of unmounted knights, both outfitted in a similar way as above. (c) Hunting scene with riders shooting "Sasanian"-type bows.




See also Heroic fights and dying heroes - The Orlat battle plaque and the roots of Sogdian art by Markus Mode
Frieze from Khaltchayan Reception Hall, 50 BC-50 AD, northern Bactria, Yuezhi, Kushan or Parthian
Ancient Illustrations & Articles


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