The Helmand Sistan Project


Inscribed material from Sistan was limited, as would be expected of the finds from a surface survey. The most notable material was the bilingual Greek-Aramaic inscription from the excavation of the well at Khwaja Ali Sehyaka/Sehyak, published in Volume 1 of our report by Lauren Morris, Rachel Mairs, and Michael Zellman-Rohrer. Several other pre-Islamic ostraca were found at different sites and will be published in Volume 2. Islamic inscriptions were found in several forms, as decoration on glazed ceramics, as glazed mortuary tiles from the Timurid period, as graffiti on the walls of sites, and as stamped ceramics and bricks. These will be published in Volume 2 by Viola Allegranzi. One puzzling sherd from the Bronze Age site of Dam has four characters that may or may not be a decorative motif or an inscription in an early Iranian script. At Khwaja Ali Sehyaka/Sehyak, and several other sites, were a host of tamga, inscribed marks on pottery, dating to Parthian times. These will also be published in Volume 2 of the report. 

The bilingual Greek-Aramaic inscription from the well at Sehyak. Dating probably to the 1st century BCE, it likely was affixed to the doorway of the Sehyak temple. While only a fraction of the full inscription was preserved and, therefore, its original meaning is not fully understood, the Greek likely mentions a Parthian king Phraates, while the Aramaic references the Iranian deity Ahuramazda.
Two Aramaic characters on a sherd found on the surface at Parthian House 139.
Part of a Timurid-period ceramic mortuary tile.
A glazed inscribed sherd found at House 271.
This ceramic piece from Bronze Age site Dam may be decorative or inscribed in one of the early Iranian scripts still being translated
Over 100 tamga, single characters incised on potsherds, were found by the project, mostly at the site of Sehyak, as those shown here. Some appear to be numerical, others alphabetical characters, still others seem representational. They are inscribed on pottery from the Parthian period.