Golden Hill


The name of the Tillya Tepe literally means Golden Hill. It is an archeological site in Northern Afghanistan where the find known as the Bactrian Gold was unearthed. In 1978 the Russians who occupied Afghanistan opened up the hill and the tomb that lay within it. There they discovered an astonishing array of golden jewellery and artefacts, that melded what we today consider to be completely disparate cultures.

Image credit: National Geographic

A wonderful example of this is the so-called Asian Aphrodite - a statue of the Greek Goddess draped in a Hellenistic style, but with a pose associated with Eastern religious culture, and marked with a bindi in the centre of her forehead.

A reason for this unique combination of designs is the site's placement on the Silk Road, where cultures from the Far East to the Far West traded gold, silks, jewels, spices, and other wares. The tombs discovered there were divided into 6 chambers. In the most famous, the skeleton of a nomadic princess was discovered. Like the female skeletons in the other tombs, she was draped in golden discs for earrings, and long elaborate necklaces. What made her unique however, was the golden crown atop her head, which was made out of such thinly pressed gold, it could be folded and put in her pocket - the perfect accessory for a nomadic princess. It is exquisitely intricate, depicting trees with dangling birds in their boughs.

Image credit: National Geographic

In the only tomb belonging to a man, a headdress with a ram upon it was found. This, along with daggers, and further headdresses referenced the animal gods that were found at the site.

These and other items including Roman coins, Buddhist amulets, and Chinese engravings were considered to be so important by the leaders of Afghanistan that, once the Soviets pulled out of the country, they hatched a plan to hide the artefacts in a secret location, whose whereabouts would not be divulged until the country found peace once again. In the ensuing years many of the treasures which were not removed were destroyed or looted from the National Museum, but the Bactrian Gold remained in safekeeping. It is only in recent years that it has been revealed once again, and returned to the public eye.


Image credit: National Geographic

Cleopatra's Bling designs are equally inspired by the congruence of civilisations that travelled the silk road. In honour of the find, we have named the pearl studs in this chapter of the Desert Rose collection the Tillya Earrings. 

 Learn more about them, and see further images, here:


Gold-plated and sterling earrings, adorned with freshwater pearls.



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