History of Turkmenistan

According to historians’ assessments, history of civilizations which existed on this land in the past accounted for five thousand years. Remains of those ancient cultures can be found here almost anywhere: in the desert and at foothills of mountains, along the channels of dried rivers and in caves. Traces of human activity have been preserved in the form of implements, domestic utensils and real works of art made of stone and bone, ceramics and metal, including bronze, silver and gold. But it is the architecture that makes us recollect distant ancestors of the Turkmens starting from the earthenware houses, sanctuaries and formerly inaccessible fortresses of the ancient world to the luxurious palaces and temples of the Middles Ages. Certainly, few things that local towns were renowned for had escaped destruction and remained intact till nowadays.

 

 

Turkmenistan is a country of the oldest civilizations, having made a significant contribution to the development of the world culture. Modern Turkmenistan borders were first to appear in the world along with India and Middle East. Historical sources prove that in the III-II millennium BC two big states, which consolidated nations living far from each other in the desert and river valleys, were established on the territory of present-day Turkmenistan.

In the 4th century B.C., the Persian Empire was defeated by the army of Alexander the Great. In 330 B.C., Alexander marched northward into central Asia and founded the city of Alexandria near the Murgab River. Located on an important trade route, Alexandria later became the city of Merv (modern Mary). The ruins of Alexander’s ancient city are still visible along the banks of the Murgab River.

After Alexander’s death in 323 B.C., his generals fought for control of his empire, which quickly fell apart. The Scythians—fierce, nomadic warriors from the north—then established the kingdom of Parthia, which covered present-day Turkmenistan and Iran. The Parthian kings ruled their domain from the ancient city of Nisa. At its height, Parthia extended south and west as far as the Indus River in modern India.

During the leadership of King Mitridat II (128-84 BC) Parthia became one of the Great States of that period. And during the existence of the Parthian State the city Merv was declared as the center of main Trade and work. Parthia fell in A.D. 224 to the Sasanian rulers of Persia. At the same time, several groups—including the Alans and the Huns—were moving into Turkmenistan from the east and north. A branch of the Huns wrested control of southern Turkmenistan from the Sasanian Empire in the 5th century A.D.

Central Asia came under Arab control after a series of invasions in the late 7th and early 8th centuries. Meanwhile, the Oguz—the ancestors of the Turkmen—were migrating from eastern Asia into central Asia, the Middle East, and Asia Minor (modern Turkey). The Arab conquest brought the Islamic religion to the Oguz and to the other peoples of central Asia.

By the 11th century, the Oguz were pushing to the south and west, and the Arabs were retreating from Turkmenistan. In 1040, the Seljuk clan of the Oguz tribe established the Seljuk Empire, with its capital at Merv. At one time, the Seljuk realm stretched all the way to Baghdad. Other Oguz groups moved west across the Caspian Sea, settling in Azerbaijan and in Asia Minor, where they joined the Seljuk Turks in establishing the Ottoman Empire. After mixing with the settled peoples in Turkmenistan, the Oguz living north of the Kopet-Dag Mountains gradually became known as the Turkmen.

In the 11th and 12th centuries, the main centers of Turkmen culture were at Khiva in the north (now in Uzbekistan) and at Merv in the south. Khiva controlled the cities and farming estates of the lower Amu Darya Valley. Merv became a crossroads of trade in silks and spices between Asia and the Middle East. This business created vast wealth in the ancient city, where the Seljuk rulers built fabulous mosques and palaces. At the same time, a growing class of wealthy traders and landowners was challenging the Seljuks for control of Turkmenistan.

The Mongol invasions had divided the Turkmen into small clans and had pushed them into the desert. Later, as the Mongols retreated from Turkmenistan, the Turkmen fell under the control of Muslim khans (rulers) who established khanates in Bukhara (in modern Uzbekistan) and Khiva.

The rivalry between the khans and the rulers of Persia touched off centuries of war in Turkmenistan. Persians, Turkmen, and the khans fought for the scattered oases in southern Turkmenistan. From the 14th through the 17th century, Turkmenistan was in decline. To escape the conflicts, most Turkmen moved to the remote deserts along the borders of Persia and Afghanistan.

The ruins of Abiverd (also known as Peshtag) are located near the district center Kaahka in the Akhal province of Turkmenistan. Abiverd was one of the major towns of Northern Khorasan, and is repeatedly mentioned in written sources, especially since the Arab conquest. Makdisi writes that he likes Abiverd more than Nisa, as it has rich fertile land and a market.

In the Persian geographical work “Hudud al-Alem” Baverd (Abiverd) is characterized as a “place of numerous crops and arable lands”.

Kharaj (a king of tax) for Abiverd in the 9th century amounted to 700,000 dirhams and almost twice as high as the kharaj of Sarakhs, indicating thet it had more densely populated areas.

In the 11th century when there was a struggle for possession of Khorasan between the Seljuks and Ghaznavids, Abiverd is mentioned several times in the chronicles as a locality where stayed togrulbek and then the Ghaznavi sultan Masud. Later, like many other cities of khorasan, it was destroyed during the Mongol invasion.

The site is a fortress with defensive towers area of 10.5 hectares. The citadel is located in the middle of the north-eastern wall of the fortress and the gates are located on the southwest side. The citadel, which has an almost square plan which sides 300m x 350m, is strengthened by 20 towers and is surrounded by a moat, its depth 1.5m, in four places interrupted by road embankments.

Since Abiverd was entirely covered with a cultural layer of late-time (15th – 18th centuries), it is difficult to establish the layout of the early medieval town. Here in large numbers are found pottery of the 9th – 12th centuries, and coins of the local coinage, dating for a later time.

In the study of Abiverd’s ruins, archaeologists established the location of artisan quarters located in south-eastern and north-western part of town where there are the remains of slag and iron things. In the central part of the town, near the citadel, were found various metal wares (female adornments, bells, buckles, some parts of harness, etc.) witnessing the presence of braziers and jewelers’ workshops. Reservoirs were discovered, with irrigation ditches and wells, indicating the water supply of the town.

Development of the town was probably due to its geographical position at the cross-roads of trade routes linking the cities and regions of the northern slope of the Kopetdag with Iran. In addition, on the north side of Abiverd was bordered by the nomadic steppe, which was an important market for the implementation of craft products and the acquisition of pastoral resources.

Caravans from China passed many kilometers before reaching the Amudarya. The caravans crossed the Amudarya River and came to the town of Amul – now the ruins, near the city of Turkmenabad. From the south – west at a distance of 10 – 15 km from the Amul sand dunes were stopped by a green line of irrigated land, and in the north – east at 12 km occur Amudarya. Amul was on the crossing of trade routes, here caravan routes crossed from west to east ( from Merv to Bukhara, and further to China ),and from north to south (from Khorezm to Afghanistan and India).

The first settlement on the site of Amul emerged at the turn of the old and the new era, roughly 2100 – 2000 years ago.The abundance of water and a favorable geographical position near the crossing created favorable conditions for the life of this settlement, which gradually extended and developed its economy. Already in the early Middle Ages (5th – 7th centuries AD) the settlement became a town. As well as Amul, in the region later emerged four ancient and medieval towns on the middle current of Amudarya – Kelif,Zemm – Kerkuh (Atamurad), Navid (ruins of Keshk castle Zukhra – Tahir in Burdalyk and Firabr – Bityk(Farab).

The earliest period of the town s development was in the 1st – 4th centuries AD.At that time the town had an area of 50 gectaries, its core was a shahristan with a citadel.Around it grew many buildings and estates.The lower parts of the shahristan s walls formed front pahsa of a thickness of several meters, are from this time period. As a building material was the usual square mud – brick size 38x38x9 and 40x40x10 cm with occasional brick – 41x41x8 and 45x45x8cm.

Archaeological research show that in the 9th – 10th centuries Amul consisted of a shahristan that extended with arc inside and outside of the town.Within the walls of shahristan were three gates: the northern,eastern and southern. In the outer part of Amul was the rabat.Here were found numerous ceramic vessels which which have a rich ornament.On the inner and outer surface of the bright engobed made ornament in the form of geometric shapes and fragments of vegetation,covered with glaze/. There is a direct analogy between the ceramics of Amul and the Bukhara oasis. Among the finds of that period are things which were made from glass,stone and metal.

According to medieval Arab authors (Balaruzi, Ibn Hordadbeh, Istakhri, Yakut), Amul which arose on the place of the ancient settlement in 9th – 11th centuries turned into a big crowded town with an area of 175 hectares. It was very importatn that Amul was situated at the crossroads of caravan routes from Khorasan to the East – Maverannahr and China to the North – to Khorezm, in the South – to Balkh and India. In 1220 Amul was destroyed by the Mongols.

The origion og the name « Amul » is not clear. There are several variations of the town s name in the historical sources:Amuyya, Amuye or just Amu,as well as Amul – Dzhayhuna, Amul – Zemma, Amul Coast,and Amul desert to distinguish it from the other eponymous town in Iranian Tabaristan. From the end of the 15th century in the sources all these name disappeared and the name of Charjuy – «four channels», or Chaharjub started to be used.

The fortress has a total area of 9 hectares, the walls of which form a quadrangle. The dominant place has a small citadel (arch) in the northwest corner of the Shahristan. It is raised by 13 m from the surrounding territory of the fortress, an area of 7.5 hectares which in turn raised 20 meters above the territory of the town itself. There are 5 towers around the perimeter of the old walls of the citadel. Such a layout of the town, established in the 8th – 9th centuries, survived until the 19th century.

In the early 1990s here were long –term archaeological excavations. An instrumental settlement plan of the site was composed, which defined the area of a future historical and cultural reserve, based on two of the excavations and discovery of new finds of material culture of Amul.

Anau is a madieval town, which is situated 12 km south east of Ashgabat. The site of Anau is identified with the ancient town of Gatar, which was referred to by Isidore of Charax, and the medieval town Bagabad. The area of the town is about 9 ha.

At the site were conducted a few excavations. The archaeological material indicates that the monument is polystratum. The earliest layer of the Anau refers to an ancient time. The site consist of a fortress in an irregular circle with a diameter of 300-350 meters, built on a hill (height 10-12m). The fortress is surrounded by a ring of eroded walls with towers and a covered ditch. The upper part of the fortress wall was built of clay bricks, and in the bottom layer was found the remains of earlier pahsa walls.

Archaeological work was identified the earliest layer as referring to the early Parthian time. Ceramics of the pre-Arabic period were discovered in a significant layer of the 9th – 10th centuries were found when in the culture of the town is noted as being in a slump. During the Mongol invasion the fortress was destroyed, but life here soon resumed, because it is witnessed by a significant number of finds related to the 13th – 14th centuries.

There was at the site a medieval mosque, known as “Seyitjemal Ad-din”, which has repeatedly attracted the attention of researchers. It was built in the 15th century and was destroyed by the earthquake of 1948. On its façade and interior details was available information about the construction of the building during the reign of Abul Kasim Babur, the Timurid prince, who governed in Khorasan in the year 1447-1457. Its also supposed that the mosque was built by Muhammad Hudaydat, Abul-Kasim Babur’s vizier, and then the Sultan Hussein Baikara’s vizier. The Anau mosque consisted of 17 rooms, and it had a square hall with a span of 10.5 m, covered with a cupola, which is based on four extensive arches and tromps. The hall’s walls were separated on three tires. Two narrow niches with exits were situated on both sides of mikhrab, and two wide and deep niches with exits on terrace. In the basic square corners there were spiral staircases leading to the roundabout galleries of the second and third floors, and also to the roof. The extensive avian was made from the north side to the mosque yard.

The original decorations of the tympana of the portal arch were dragons. According to G.A. Pugachenkova, dragons were placed here as guardians, as if magically protecting “Jemal’s house” from evil.

It’s interesting, and a sardoba dates back to the 15th century which has a circular reservoir of diameter 6.5 m. The step down into the sardoba is situated from the east side at a depth of 2.8 m from above the ground surface.

CARAVAN—SERAI DAYA-HATYN
In the medieval economy of Central Asia trade relation.those executed by the trade caravans have played an important role.Therefore,to ensure the safety and comfort of the caravans, well appointed inns were built caravan – serais,which were situated,especially remoted from major urban areas or hazardous areas and were strengthened by powerful defensive walls.

One of these caravan – serais was built on the trade route passing from Amul along the Amudarya River to the capital of Khorezm.This unique monument of medieval architecture and single well- preserved caravan – serai on the territory of Turkmenistan is known as Daya – Hatyn. The caravan – serai is situated on the 173 ty km of Turkmenabad – Birata highway, not far from the train station at Halkabat. Nowdays , it stands along on the bank of the Amudarya and majestically stands out among the sand hills and saksaul ( halaxylon) groves.The building yfs a square planning with sides 53X53 m.In the middle there is an open courtyard with dimentions of 30X30 m,surrounded by a covered arcade and numerous large and small rooms located on the four sides of the yard.The building material was multi – format,fine baked burnt bricks, the main walls,arches,vaults and cupolas were consracted with. The wide high arched entrance,decorated from the outside by a strongly protuberant portal ,is directed to the north, the river side.The caravan – serai was surrounded by strong defensive walls,which cover an additional area designated for the maintenance of pack animals. The construction dates back to the 12th century.The caravan – serai functioned with small repairs and alterations until the 16th century.

The fortress of the caravan – serai at Daya – Hatyn served as a major trans – shipping point on the Amul – Khorezm trade route.Probably, trade along the Amudarya ariver played a significant role as well.

The history of Dehistan is divided into three chronological periods. In the first period (end of the 2nd –early 1st millennium BC) the tribes that inhabited this territory were engaged mainly in agriculture based on irrigation. Pastoralism had an auxiliary character. The second period (3nd -8nd centuries) is marked by the penetration into this region of different ethnic groups,and the emergenct of large fortified settlements (Shaudus-kala Akja-kala etc). The largest monument of medieval Dehistan relating to the third period (9th – 13th ctnturies) is the site Misrian. It consists of Shahristan and Rabat, taken along with artisan quarters of about 200 hectares.

Medieval Dehistan was one of the major economic,trade,crafts and cultural centers in southwestern Turkmenistan. It was in close relationship with other districts in south – east of Caspian Sea. The town being on the border of the settled oasis and nomadic steppe was an important point, where there was intensive trade. For example,one of the international caravan routes linking the Khorezm and the Arabic countries went through Dehistan.

The town was surrounded by a double ring of defensive walls,fortified guard towers semicecular in plan.The distance between the walls was 25 meters,the towers were located every 50 m. outside the three gates of Dehistan remain the bridge foundations of brick. In the rabid surrounding the town from four directions are numerous remnants of burnt brick and pottery- making workshops, as well as foundations of three saravan – sarais, conventionally named as the eastern,southern and western ones.In the southern rabad weregardens and parks facilities and a marketplace.In the western rabad were the traces of a wide residential area.In the northern one were the cemetery Mashat – ata with a mosque – mausoleum Shir-Kabir. The most densily populated were the eastern and southern rabats; there were irrigation ditches and the main canal, which provided the town with water.

In a structure of the town special places had public buildings and facilities .representing the social structure of that era.These monumental buildings are mosques,minares,madrasahs and a number of placts of worship.

Among remaining buildings one should note two minarets ,and the remains of a mosques portal with carved brick ornamentation. The height of the minarets is about 20m,trunk diameter – 8,7 m (bottom). The northern minaret dates from the 11th century and southern one the 13th century. On the portal of the mosque was discovered an inscription with the name of Muhammad Khorezmshah (1200 – 1220). On the wall of the trunk of the northern minaret there are several circular inscriptions with the date of construction, names of builders and the governor of Dehistan. On the trunk of the southern minaret in two places there is a wooden line. Spesialists consider that these are anti-seismic devices.

The Dehistan faienced vessels are similar to gorgan (Jurjan) in their ornament and figurative motifs. This is explained by the fact that Dehistan, the North Atrek oasis bordering the North-West Iran, and Jurjan (the lower stream of the Gorgan river) formed a part of the same state in the Middle Ages. It was so in the periods of Ghaznavids, Seljuks, and Hulaguids. Thus, political and economic unity was not traceless in the defined periods of time and affected the cultural life of the medieval population of Dehistan and Gorgan.

Unlike the cities of Khorosan with its predominantly raw structures,here already about a thousand years ago was widely used burnt brick,not only in the construction of public buildings, but also for the houses of townspeople and for the construction of fortifications.

In 1991,the state historical and cultural preservation park « The Ancient Dehistan» was created.

Merv lies on one of the main arms of the ancient Silk Roads that connected Europe and Africa to the Far East. The broad delta of rich alluvial land created by the Murgab river, which flows northwards from Afghanistan, forms an oasis at the southern edge of the Karakum Desert. The ancient cities of Merv developed at the heart of this oasis, close to the course of the main river channel in antiquity. The succession of cities, which together once encompassed over 1000 ha, date from the 5th century BCE to the present day.

In the 5th century BCE the Achaemenian Empire, stretching from Turkey to India and from Central Asia to Egypt, stimulated a growth in long-distance trade. A flourishing administrative and trading centre developed in the Murgab delta, now called Erk Kala. We know little about this first city: its city walls encompassed an oval area covering about 12 hectares, but as the earliest settlement lies some 17 metres below the modern day surface, buried under a sequence of more than 1,500 years of buildings and daily life, it is relatively inaccessible to archaeological exploration.

The region came into the Hellenistic world in the late 4th century BCE, as Alexander the Great swept through on route to the Oxus and India. The eastern territories of his empire soon became part of the Seleucid Empire, and Antiochus I (281-261 BCE) began a massive expansion of the city at Merv: the earlier city of Erk Kala was converted into a citadel and a vast new walled city was laid out, Antiochia Margiana (today called Gyaur Kala), nearly 2 kilometers across and covering some 340 hectares. Again, we currently know little of the detail of the early Seleucid city, buried as it is under a deep sequence of later occupation, although recent excavations of the outstandingly well preserved defenses seem to confirm the Antiochus construction date, and give us a fascinating insight into the scale and organization of the early city.

The great city of Gyaur Kala was to develop with the ebb and flow of empires and trade over the next 1,000 years. The Parthians (from c 250 BCE), and then the Sasanians (from 226 CE), developed Merv as a major administrative, military and trading centre. The defences were repeatedly rebuilt and strengthened and the vitality of the city is reflected in the numerous building programmers’ and in the wealth of objects recovered from the excavations within Gyaur Kala. But there were also periods of decline, particularly when nomad invasions or migrations destabilized the area: during the 5th century CE, for example, Merv was probably the base for the disastrous campaigns against the Hephthalite Huns – during which the cream of the Sasanian elite were killed.

With the coming of Islam, in the 7th century CE, the urban landscape and the conduct of daily life began to change, as did Merv’s role in the wider world. As the capital of Khurasan (the ‘eastern land’) Merv became a centre for Arab expansion, intended to relieve the over-crowding and religious and political discontent of towns such as Basra and Kufa in southern Iraq. A self-contained walled town,Shaim Kala, built outside the eastern gates of Gyaur Kala, perhaps to house these colonists (sadly this town has been largely destroyed under a Soviet planned village).

In the 740s the commander Abu Muslim took control of Merv, raising the black banners to proclaim the start of the Abbasid revolution. Baghdad was soon established as the capital of the new empire, but Merv’s status as the capital of Khurasan had grown and now the empire from east of the Great Desert to the frontiers of India was administered from here.

Abu Muslim commissioned a mosque to be built alongside the Majan Canal, which flowed a kilometre to the west of Gyaur Kala city wall. There had been earlier occupation in the area; for example, by about the 7th century köshks, defended houses were being constructed, with massive corrugated walls perhaps the most striking buildings surviving at Merv. By the 11th century Abu Muslim’s mosque lay at the centre of the thriving city Marv al-Shahijan (Merv the Great: today Sultan Kala). It is possible to see the mosque as part of the planning for the heart of the new city, which was clearly organised, with a planned street system and a carefully managed water supply (with numerous canals and reservoirs in each district). It seems likely that the new status of Merv in the 8th century, coupled with new ideas and beliefs that identified the need for public spaces, buildings, infrastructure – and perhaps most importantly, access to clean water, not only for domestic purposes but also for the practice of Islam – led to the deliberate and planned development of a new town.

As Sultan Kala rose to prominence the old city of Gyaur Kala began a gradual process of change and decline. Surface artefact studies suggest that the area of settlement contracted, and excavations have shown that the defences of the old city had fallen out of use by the 9th century. Along the main streets of the old city new industrial activities developed, turning it into the industrial suburb of the new city.

Sultan Kala continued to expand and develop through the Seljuk period (11th to early 13th centuries). Its walls enclosed some 340 hectares (a circuit of nearly 9 kilometres), with walled suburbs to the north and south encompassing an additional 210 hectares: at this time Merv was one of the largest cities in the world. Aerial photographs reveal a landscape of dense urban occupation on either side of the Majan Canal, with numerous streets forming a slightly irregular grid. Numerous large rectangular structures, interspersed within the tightly packed houses, mark the location of the some of the more substantial buildings. Markets, mosques and madaris proliferated, while substantial caravanserais were built within the city and along the main roads leading out, especially to the west. There was a large industrial quarter in the western suburbs, mainly producing pottery, including highly decorated moulded wares, which were in great demand along the trade routes. In the 12th century a walled citadel (Shahriyar Ark) was constructed in the north-eastern corner of the town, enclosing a palace complex, administrative buildings and high quality residences.

Merv had probably already started to wane by the later 12th century, as east-west trade had begun to be dominated by the seaborne routes between the Far East and Europe. By the early 13th century trade became disrupted by the movement of nomadic peoples to the east: the rising Mongol Empire. In 1221, a Mongol army arrived at the gates of Merv. They spent six days riding around the defences, looking for the weak points, before the town negotiated a surrender. Unfortunately, whatever the basis of the surrender was to have been, it was hardly a success. According to historical accounts the townspeople were massacred and the town burnt to the ground and abandoned. Various estimates have been given for the number of people put to death, ranging up to a million – however inflated the truth became in the telling, there can be little doubt that the scale of destruction and loss of life was horrific. Archaeological evidence suggests that the subsequent events were complex: there is evidence for buildings in the city of Sultan Kala continuing in use well into the Mongol period, and substantial quantities of Mongol period ceramics and industrial activity have been found within the city and its suburbs, possibly industrial zones surrounding a settlement in the citadel of the old Seljuk town. At present we have much to learn about how quickly life began again in Merv after the sack and the organisation of the Mongol settlement.

By the 15th century the old town was largely abandoned in favour of a new planned town, later called Abdullah Khan Kala, which was built some 2 kilometres to the south. This Timurid city was carefully laid out, covering some 46 hectares, with axial streets, a citadel area, baths, mosques and madaris, all enclosed by a defensive circuit. In many places this would have seemed a substantial town, and it was, but in the shadow of the vast Sultan Kala, it has suffered from the comparison, both in terms of its study and preservation.

In 1987 Turkmenistan established an archaeological park to protect the walled cities, some of the immediate extra-mural areas, and selected outlying buildings. This has already done much to improve the basic condition of the site, removing modern agriculture from within the walled areas and generally improving access to the monuments. In 1999 the site was declared a World Heritage Site. However, there are daunting conservation issues and in 2000 Merv was placed on the World Monuments Watch’s list of the world’s 100 most endangered sites.

At the beginning of the 1st century AD the city Urgench was mentioned in Chinese written sources as Yue-gan. Later this town was often mentioned in connection with major political events. Arab-Persian historians, geographers and travelers left a lot of information about Gurganj, in particular, the Arab historian Yakut al-Hamawi (1179-1229). The main town of Khorezm he named Djurdja, and locals named it Kurkanj, Arabized Gurganj. After the mongol conquest the town name of Gurganj changed into Urgench. The author of the 14th century Al-Umari left interesting information on the hospitality of Khorezmians. According to him, if the inhabitant of this country met a traveler, they would argue because of him and compete in hospitality, spending money as other people compete in money accumulation.

The famous Arab traveler of the 14th century Ibn Battuta wrote about urgench: “This is the largest, most considerable, important, beautiful and majestic city of the Turks with fine bazaars and broad streets, numerous buildings and spectacular views. In the city life is in full swing and it seems a perturbing sea because of such a great number of citizens. Once crossing the city, I came to the market, and when I approached the middle … I could not move either forward or backward”. The geographical location of Koneurgench as a market between nomads and sedentary oases promoted its economic growth. This, in turn, strengthened its political influence as the center of Khorezm. Scientists consider that Gurganj had regular trade ties with khorasan, from the one side, and Northern Iran, from other side, already in the middle of the 6th century AD. The trade and economic relations of the town increased after Arab conquest in AD 712. As the result of trade contacts with Eastern Europe its influence on the khazar and Bulgar Volga regions strengthened.

The historian of the 10th century Istakhri wrote, “Urgench is the largest city in Khorezm after its capital (Kyat), and a place of trade with Guzs and from here caravans leave to jurjan (Gurgan), Khazar and Khorasan.

On the territory of Koneurgench numerous architectural monuments have been preserved, which are of considerable scientific and cultural value.

The mausoleum of Il-Arslan (or fakhr ad-din Razi) is located east of the other architectural monuments of Koneurgench. The estimated date of construction of the mausoleum is the 12th – 12th centuries. The mausoleum is small, almost square building, crowned with twelve facets wall with a door has an excellent decorative trim, full of ornamental masonry from burnt and carved bricks.

The mausoleum of Tekesh (1172-1200) is 0.5 km northwest of the mausoleum of fakhr ad-din Razi. The local population refers to his mausoleum as Sharap-baba, or Sheikh Sheref. According to legend, the sheikh, though he lived in urgench, was buried in the aul (village) Nohur (southern Turkmenistan). Presumably, the mausoleum belongs to Khorezmshah Tekesh. It is explained by two factors. Firstly, the construction of the mausoleum and ornamental motifs allow us to date it to the beginning of the 13th century, while sheikh Sheref lived at the beginning of the 14th century. Secondly, the historian of the 13th century Juzjani wrote that the Mongols destroyed all the buildings, except for the Koshki-Ahchak and the mausoleum of sultan Tekesh.

The mausoleum of Tyurabeg Hanum is associated with the name of the governor’s wife of Urgench Kutlug Timur. The building consist of twelve facets of large bulk with a high portal adjoining from the south, and to the north is a small rectangular building. Over the bulk is a round drum bearing cupola of the central hexagonal room. Twenty-four edges maintain the ouyer cupola of the mausoleum having a diameter of 12m. blue, white, turquoise, black, green, yellow, red, and brown colors with gold create the unusual mosaic pattern of the cupola.

The ensemble of mausoleum of Nejm ad-din Kubra and Sultan Ali is situated at the center of the local cemetery. Mausoleum Nejm ad-din Kubra dates back to the fist half of the tomb, on the perimeter of the old cemetery the domed mausoleum of Sultan Ali is located, who was one of the rulers of Urgench in the 16th century. A small building has burials of Piryar-Wali sheikh Attar-Wali, Duyar-Wali and Daniyar-Wali, and mazar of Atchapar Malim Hoja.

There are also two minarets – one of the pre-Mongol period which is now completely destroyed, the other preserved in the town center. The minaret has the names of Golden Horde ruler Uzbek khan (1321 – 1336) and his regent in Khorezm Kutlug Timur (1321 – 1336). It was built in approximately the years of 1320-1330. The minaret has a height of 60m and 145 steps inside the spiral staircase that begins at the entrance, at a height of about 7 meters above the ground.

On the site Dash-Kala is preserved a portal of caravanserai that dates back to the 14th century. There are other mouments, such as the mausoleum of Ibn-Hajibey (17th century), the mausoleum of Sayyid Ahmad (19th century) and others. Koneurgench is one of the medival political and cultural centres of the East which was included in the list of the World Heritage Site of UNESCO in 2005.

An ancient town in the foothills of the Kopetdag mountains is now represented by the ruins of two forts: Old and New Nisa. They are located 15 km west of Ashgabat. Nisa was the first capital of the Parthian state. In the time of Mithridat I(174-136) at the place of Old Nisa was erected a royal fotress Mithridatkert (covering about 14 hectares) with 43 towers, there were also palace and temple buildings, storage facilities and treasure house of the Parthian kings. During archeological excavations were discovered around 2700 ostracs – texts inscribed with black paint on a clay vessel’s fragments. The written language discovered in the Old Nisa is of Aramaic origin and dates back to the 2nd century BC. The written documents found belonged to the Parthian archive.

During excavations of Old Nisa were exposed monumental constructions – temples(round and tower types) and a large square audience hall. The tower temple was built on a monolithic platform the size of 20×20 square meters, and round one(diameter 17m) originally had three passes. Ceiling of the square hall was made of wood, based on the walls and four powerful brick pillars, light passed from above through skylights. It is Supposed that the floor was covered with luxurious carpets.

The rhytons which are ritual vessels made of ivory are of special interests. They depicted a variety of fantastic beings – griffins. Also on the site of Nisa was made significant discoveries: mural paintings and the head of a warrior in a combat helmet, that date back to the 1st century BC.

After the fall of the Parthian Empire, Old Nisa was destroyed by the Sassanids. Life continued in New Nisa. In 651 the region of Nisa was captured by Arabs. From the first quarter of the 9th centuary Nisa was part of the possessions of Takhirids. It was already a rich medieval town. In the 10th century Nisa was taken over by the Sassanids. In 1017 it was annexed and added to the possessions of the Ghaznavids, and from 1040 became part of Seljuk Empire.

In 1987 was founded the state historical and cultural preservation park “Nisa”. In June 2007, Old and New Nisa were included in the list of the world cultural heritage protected by UNESCO