Speakers

Biography

Dr. Dennys Frenez – Ph.D in Archeology from the University of Bologna – is currently investigating and modelling trade and cultural interactions between urban level societies in South and Middle Asia during the Bronze Age (ca. 3200-1300 BC), with a specific focus on the Indus Civilization. The research of Dr. Frenez involves a wide range of theoretical and methodological approaches, including the study of ancient administrative and writing systems, traditional technologies and crafts and socio-economic and political organization. Dr. Frenez directed archaeological excavations in India and works on archaeological collections in collaboration with several museums and archaeological expeditions in India, the Sultanate of Oman, UAE, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, and established an extensive network of collaborations.

Abstract

Manufacturing and trade of Asian elephant ivory in the Bronze Age. Evidence from Mohenjo-Daroand Gonur Depe (Margiana, Turkmenistan).

This paper presents the detailed stylistic and functional analysis of a large collection of artifacts made from ivory of Asian elephant (Elephas maximus, Linnaeus, 1758), discovered at the Bronze Age site of Gonur Depe, in southern Turkmenistan. Artifacts in ivory of Asian elephant found at Bronze Age sites in Middle Asia were usually considered mere evidence for the import of finished items from the greater Indus Valley. The detailed study of the Gonur Depe ivories and the punctual comparison with the ivory objects from Mohenjo-Daro and other Indus Civilization sites have instead proven a relevant degree of functional and stylistic separation of these highly specialized productions. This evidence has opened significant questions about the provenance of the raw material and about the origin and technical formation of the ivory carvers who manufactured these objects. A detailed research in textual sources about traditional arts and crafts in the Subcontinent and in classical and medieval commentaries about ivory carving, integrated with ethnographic data about skilled crafting in traditional societies, allowed to propose consistent hypotheses about the complex socioeconomic and cultural organization of manufacturing and trade of Asian elephant ivory during the Bronze Age.