Treasures of archaeology

Discover the amazing collection of the Archaeological Fund in the National History Museum of Azerbaijan

By National History Museum of Azerbaijan

Archaeological Fund (1920) by National Museum of History of AzerbaijanNational History Museum of Azerbaijan

Archaeological fund

The archaeological section, which was organized in 1920, was one of the first structural sections it the National Museum of History.  The Museum launched archaeological exploration and excavation work in the area of Azerbaijan since 20s of XX century. Wide excavation work carried out in monuments of Chovdar-Gandja, Yaloylu-tepe, on the archeological site of Redkin and Khojali was continued in old Gandja, Baku Khan palace, Nakhichevan, Uchtepe and Mingechavir in 30-40s.  Archaeological fund was enriched with  new materials year by year. The fund functioned within section of scientific exposition of Ancient and Middle Ages history of Azerbaijan till 2009.  Improved conditions of work created new opportunities for research, demonstration, propaganda of archaeological materials and enrichment of Archaeological fund in newly established section of archaeological scientific fund in 2009. 

Glazed plate decorated with human figure (XI-XII centuries) by Gara Ahmadov, 1960National History Museum of Azerbaijan

The plate gives full idea about the level of professional skills of Azerbaijani potters in making artistic pottery products, as well as the traditions and religious-philosophical outlook of their era in the Middle Ages. The color of the glazed plate made in a potter's wheel is orange, decorated by using green and brown paints.

At the center, en face two men stood face-to-face with a rose water flask in their hands, wearing a trapezium-shaped hat and Caucasian "chocka" with wide bottom, black boots with broad strip on their feet are depicted. You can say that both men are noble. There is something written on the lower part with Arabic alphabet. This kind of crockery was also used as decorations in the house interior.

Mined copper boiler (XIV-XVII centuries)National History Museum of Azerbaijan

Although there is not enough information on the development of the art of enameling in Azerbaijan in the Middle Ages, this is one of the rare findings. The inside of the cylindrical boiler was covered with one-color enamel, and the outer surface with polychrome. There is an inscription in the Arabic alphabet in the colophon with a central figure and a bird was depicted on the edges with botanical ornaments.

The elephant was depicted on the bottom part by using the scratch-carve method.

Painted earthenware jar (XV-XIII centuries B.C.) by Alasgar Alekperov, 1936National History Museum of Azerbaijan

This jar representing the culture of painted pottery, gives full idea about the level of professional skills of the Azerbaijani potters in the Last Bronze - Early Iron Age in making pottery products, as well as their artistic tastes. This type of jars was also found in Urmia (Iran) in the synchronous period. The painted earthenware jar made of reddish clay was made in a potter's wheel. Its stem is spherical, decorated with embroidered stripes in three rows. Dark red and black birds are depicted on the first stripe.

Wild animals and birds attacking ibexes, donkeys and oxen consisting of the scenes of Wild Animals Fighting are portrayed on the middle wide stripe. The third stripe of 3.5 cm consists of a simple geometric ornament.

Black polished earthenware jar (XVI - XV centuries B.C.) by Munavvar Huseynova, 1989National History Museum of Azerbaijan

This jar made with delicate taste and great skill is an irreplaceable example of Azerbaijan`s ancient art.

The color of the polished earthenware jar made of clay is dark gray. Its stem is spherical, and there are stylized ornaments that symbolize life and infinity like sun, water, and fylfot on it.

Black Polished Vase (XIV-X centuries B.C.) by Salih Gaziyev, 1947National History Museum of Azerbaijan

The vase, visible on the picture, gives us an idea about the level of professional skills of Azerbaijani potters in making artistic pottery products during the last Bronze Age/Early Iron Age, as well as their artistic tastes. The color of the polished vase is dark gray.

The stem of the vase with two handles is decorated with six knobs and the neck with parallel straight and wavy lines using scratch-carve method. The vase belonging to Khojaly-Gadabay culture was used in everyday life.

Boot-shaped bowl (XIII-IX centuries B.C) by Qavril İone, 1949National History Museum of Azerbaijan

The fact that those, which give idea about the boot types used by Azerbaijani people in the late Bronze/Early Iron Age, were mostly found in graves, indicates that people used to believe in afterlife. The bowl representing Khojali-Gadabay culture is like a gray boot.

The bowl with a handle on the right side was used as a goblet in everyday life. The dotted ornaments on it were enchased with white paste.

Zoomorphic bowl (I millennium B.C.)National History Museum of Azerbaijan

This example presents the level of professional skills of Azerbaijani potters in making artistic pottery products during the last Bronze Age/Early Iron Age, as well as their artistic tastes. The light gray colored zoomorphic bowl with two handles is similar to the bird, and the spout of the bowl is shaped like a bird head, it is decorated with stripes framed by scratched-carved lines.

The ornaments on the surface are enchased with white paste. The bowl belonging to Khojali-Gadabay culture was used for carrying/storing liquid in everyday life.

Helmet (I century B.C.) by Fazil Osmanov, 1965National History Museum of Azerbaijan

The helmet belonging to the Albanian warrior.
The engoldened helmet with two parts was made of bronze board. There are dotted ornaments on the edges.

The back part of the helmet is cut off, and there are small holes in the edges of the ear parts. The originality, failure to find the identically same ones from other places and result of the conducted analysis confirm that it is a domestic product.

Zoomorphic pendent (XII-IX centuries B.C.)National History Museum of Azerbaijan

This pendant belonged to Khojali-Gadabay culture. It was used both for decoration and to protect people from evil forces during rituals.

The pendant consists of a combination of two deer standing back-to-back and bell chains.

Zoomorphic pendent (fragment) (XII-IX centuries B.C.) by Davud Sharifov, 1926National History Museum of Azerbaijan

Here we have another example of a pendant used in rituals. The pendant, in the shape of a three-legged bird, was made by casting method. The bird's eye is in a circular hollow shape. It was embroidered with protuberant stripes and scratched-carved straight lines.

The lower part of the stem consists of triangles with sides got cut off.

Riton (IV-II centuries B.C.) by Qavril İone, 1947National History Museum of Azerbaijan

The stem of a glass-shaped ryton made of reddish clay was completed with a deer head. The ryton was decorated with wavy and straight lines drawn by scratch-carve method.

A small hole was opened in the middle of the deer body. Ryton was used as a goblet in everyday life.

Human Statue (Balbal) (VIII-IX centuries)National History Museum of Azerbaijan

These statues, which are part of the ancient Turkish culture, were erected in hills, gravel-mounds and sacred places as a sign of worship to the ancestors. The head of the limestone carved statue is oblong and inside of the body. Only the forehead and nose out of the facial lines is forwarded to the front. Both hands are on the chest.

The pelvic part of the statue is relatively wide. This kind of statues is widely spread in the area extending from South Siberia to Eastern Europe.

Aigrette (XV-XIV centuries B.C.) by Munavvar Huseynova, 1989National History Museum of Azerbaijan

The similar aigrette-flags belonging to the Bronze Age were found in different regions of Azerbaijan.

They were probably used as symbol of power of the leaders of tribes and flag headings during battles. The aigrette was made of bronze by casting method. It consists of a deer figure and a ring.

A piece of fabric (XII-XIII centuries) by Gardashkhan Aslanov, 1980National History Museum of Azerbaijan

The silk fabric fragment is knitted serge, thread density of 1 cm2 of the fabric is 23x23, and the twines are twisted at medium level in the shape of Z. The human figures and inscriptions in the Arabic alphabet on the white-colored background are in early Islamic style. The calligraphic drawing inside the black rhombic medallion on the white background reminds us of the word “Allah” (الله), and written form of this word was provided both on the given and reverse side with the effect of a mirror reflection. This style is also seen in the words written in the red rhombic khoncha (tray filled with different sweets and fruits). The same word written in Naskhi (script) type is given by creating the effect of a mirror reflection of the word “qabal” (قبال) in Arabic, which means “equal”. It should be noted that the word “qabal” also reminds us of the word “iqbal” (fate) ("اقبال") because they derive from the same root.

Calligraphic drawings inside the zigzag stripe have a more complex writing style. Since those words do not have dots and are in somewhat inaccurate form, they can be read in different ways: “mul” (مل - wine), “nou” (نو - new) and “tulip” (لاله). Expressions also associate with the verse “Qul huval-lah” (قل هو الله - Say that He is Allah). On the one hand, it was believed that the one using this piece of fabric would be protected by this verse, in other word the fabric was given a status of phylactery.
Double-stylized human faces and trees are rhythmically replicated on the same stripe in every two row. A praying couple was depicted inside a red quadrangle medallion. Stylized human drawings, Arabic inscriptions, and especially the word “Allah” prove that this piece of fabric belongs to the Islamic world or was made for Muslims by special orders. A similar example of the fabric in terms of the composition and color can also be seen in a miniature described in Fazlullah Rashidaddin`s “Jāmiʿ al-Tawārīkh” (“Compendium of Chronicles”) (h. 605\m. 1335).

In that drawing Mahammad PBUH puts the al-Ḥajaru al-Aswad (“Black Stone”) on the the Kiswa (the black cloth covering the Kaaba). A part of the semi-circle brown wristband with the width of 0,5 cm shows that it is likely to be a part of the shirt.
Thus, 7 fabric pieces found in the medieval city Kharaba-Gilan in Nakhchivan in the 1980s are from the XII-XIII centuries. Those fabric pieces once again confirm that the art of weaving developed extensively in Azerbaijan in the mentioned period.

Spheroconus (XI-XII centuries) by Aleksandr İessen, 1955National History Museum of Azerbaijan

Spheroconuses were found in Bulgaria, Byzantium, Cyprus, and surrounding areas of Ural region. Spheroconuses were delivered to those areas through trade. The interesting fact regarding the spheroconuses is that there is not a unanimous opinion about their purpose of use. Some experts claim that those were used as lamps, some claim that they were used for carrying mercury, oil, perfumery, and others think that they were used in the military.

Even there are some assumptions that they were used to carry zamzam water. It is pretty interesting that in Central Asia, sphericonuses are called “simabkuzachi” which means “mercury bowl” in Turkmen. The color of the spheroconus is light gray, its mouth is round and narrow. His stem is surrounded by sun-like ornaments in three rows, and the part from the center towards the bottom is covered with oval-shaped ornaments.

Credits: Story

Director: Naila Mammadali Valixanly , the full member of ANAS, Ph.D on historical sciences, professor

Telephone: (99412) 493 23 87


Deputy director on the scientific affairs: Nargiz Agasalim Aliyeva, Ph.D on historical sciences

Telephone: (99412) 598 17 40


Deputy director on the affairs of scientific fund-Chief Guide: Mahfuza Hadji Zeynalova, Ph.D on historical sciences

Telephone: (99412) 498 67 14


Deputy director on general affairs: Alimammad Hadji Maharramov

Telephone: (99412) 598 48 09

Deputy director on the safety of exposition – chief of the exposition: Habiba Mirpasha Aliyeva

Telephone: (99412) 493 97 43


Scientific Secretary: Farhad Jabbarov, Ph.D on historical sciences

Telephone: (99412) 598 17 39


Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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