Storehouses and Storage Practices in Old Nisa (Turkmenistan)

Carlo Lippolis,

Niccolo Manassero


The article analyses the body of evidence related to the storage and administration of food in Parthian Nisa, according to the results of the recent excavations of the Italian Archaeological Expedition in Turkmenistan. A new corpus of clay sealings, khums (big jars) and ostraka came to light in the so-called SW Building, which, together with the previously known findings from the other buildings of Nisa, gave way to some speculations about the storage and administration practice within the Arsacid citadel. The spatial distribution of the khums gives information on the function of each building and their single rooms; the texts on the ostraka inform us on the nature and quantities of the food stored in the khums; the various ways the sealings were impressed on clay suggest some ideas on the number and roles of the officers involved in the administration of the storehouses, and perhaps on the nature of the goods stored as well. In general, the findings from the latest excavations provide fundamental information on the economic life of the citadel and of the Parthian society as well. Despite the lack of scholarly debate on such issues as related to the Parthian and Central Asian world, the authors try to interpret the evidence from the Nisa excavations, and give a preliminary reading of the data from the new and old excavations in the Arsacid citadel.

Słowa kluczowe: Parthian archaeology, Parthian economical history, Old Nisa, storage and administration practice, sealings.

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