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Archaeological Studies in Turkmenistan

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image of Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia

The study of ancient sites in Turkmenistan has in the 80s focused on the oasis of Merv (ancient Margiana), the Uzboy valley and Old Nisa. At Merv a joint Central Asian-Italian team has been preparing an archaeological map of the oasis, based on information from a complete survey of the area (over 220 sites), fixed-site excavations and sondage digs. The survey shows the continuity of different monuments on the same sites, the shift of the centre of the oasis from north to south by the time of the building of Antiochia Margiana in the 3rd c. B.C. and the reoccupation of the north by fortified settlements following the full settlement, irrigation and cultivation of the south after the 1st c. B.C. Excavations were made of fortified settlements at Chilbourj and Göbekli-depe (where over 2000 Parthian clay bullae were found). Study of sites along the Uzboy valley has altered views about changes in aridity/humidity in the area. A new period of humidity in the 7th c. B.C.-4th c. A.D. has been associated with the activity of a group of nomadic cattlebreeders, identified with the Massagetae, whose tribal centre is thought to have been the unusual site at Ichjanli-depe. At the important Parthian centre of Old Nisa recent study has been made of the "building with a square hall" (which may have been a fire temple), the "tower" of Old Nisa (whose architecture is unique in the Hellenistic Orient) and the "round temple", while near to the city investigations of the important Parthian complex at Mansurdepc have revealed two remarkable pottery fragments with painted portraits.


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