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Merv
Merv
(Turkmen: Merw, Мерв, مرو; Persian: مرو‎, Marv), formerly Achaemenid
Achaemenid
Satrapy of Margiana, and later Alexandria (Margiana) (Ἀλεξάνδρεια) and Antiochia in Margiana
Margiana
(Greek: Ἀντιόχεια τῆς Μαργιανῆς), was a major oasis-city in Central Asia, on the historical Silk Road, located near today's Mary in Turkmenistan. Several cities have existed on this site, which is significant for the interchange of culture and politics at a site of major strategic value. The site of ancient Merv
Merv
has been listed by UNESCO
UNESCO
as a World Heritage Site. (See List of World Heritage Sites in Turkmenistan)

Contents

1 History

1.1 Hellenistic
Hellenistic
era 1.2 Arab
Arab
occupation and influence 1.3 Turks in Merv 1.4 Mongols
Mongols
in Merv 1.5 Uzbeks
Uzbeks
in Merv
Merv
and its final destruction 1.6 Nineteenth century

2 Remains

2.1 Organization of remains

2.1.1 Erk Gala 2.1.2 Gäwürgala 2.1.3 Soltangala 2.1.4 Shaim Kala 2.1.5 Abdyllahangala

3 Gallery 4 Demographics 5 Economy 6 Geography

6.1 Climate

7 International relations

7.1 Twin towns and sister cities

8 See also 9 References 10 Sources and external links

History[edit] Merv
Merv
has prehistoric roots: archaeological surveys have revealed many traces of village life as far back as the 3rd millennium BC and have associated the area culturally with the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex. The geography of the Zend-Avesta (commentaries on the Avesta) mentions Merv
Merv
(under the name of Mouru) along with Balkh. In Zoroastrianism, the god Ahura Mazda
Ahura Mazda
created Mouru as one of sixteen perfect lands.[1] Under the Achaemenid Empire
Achaemenid Empire
(c. 550–330 BC), the historical record mentions Merv
Merv
as a place of some importance: under the name of Margu it occurs as part of one of the satrapies in the Behistun inscriptions (ca. 515 BC) of the Persian monarch Darius Hystaspis. The first city of Merv
Merv
was founded in the 6th century BC as part of the Achaemenid expansion into the region[2] of Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great
(559–530 BC), but later strata deeply cover the Achaemenid
Achaemenid
levels at the site. Hellenistic
Hellenistic
era[edit] Alexander the Great's visit to Merv
Merv
is merely legendary, but the city was named Alexandria (Ἀλεξάνδρεια)[3] after him for a time. After Alexander's death in 323 BC, Merv
Merv
became the capital of the Province of Margiana
Margiana
of the Seleucid, Greco-Bactrian (256-125 BC), Parthian, and Sassanid states. The Seleucid
Seleucid
ruler Antiochus Soter (reigned 281–261 BC) renamed Merv
Merv
as Antiochia Margiana; he rebuilt and expanded the city at the site presently known as Gyaur Gala (Gäwürgala) fortress. After the fall of the Seleucid
Seleucid
dynasty (63 BC), Bactria,[citation needed] Parthia, and the Kushans
Kushans
took control in succession. Merv
Merv
was a major city of Buddhist
Buddhist
learning, with Buddhist
Buddhist
monastery temples for many centuries until its Islamicization.[4][5] At the site of Gyaur Kala and Bairam Ali Buddhism was followed and practised often at the local Buddhist stupas.[6] After the Sassanid Ardashir I (220–240 AD) took Merv, the study of numismatics picks up the thread: the unbroken series of coins originally minted at Merv
Merv
document a long unbroken direct Sassanian rule of almost four centuries. During this period Merv
Merv
was home to practitioners of various religions beside the official Sassanid Zoroastrianism, including Buddhists, Manichaeans, and Christians of the Church of the East. Between the 6th (553) and 11th centuries AD, Merv
Merv
served as the seat of an East Syrian metropolitan province, key in the Dualist church's mission east up the Silk Road
Silk Road
to Turkestan and China. The Hephthalite
Hephthalite
(Hun) occupation from the end of the 5th century to 565 AD briefly interrupted Sassanid rule. Arab
Arab
occupation and influence[edit]

v t e

Muslim
Muslim
conquest of Persia

Mesopotamia

Chains River Walaja Ullais Hira Al-Anbar Ayn al-Tamr Muzayyah Saniyy Zumail Firaz 1st Babylon Namaraq Kaskar Bridge Buwaib al-Qādisiyyah Burs 2nd Babylon Ctesiphon Jalula

Khuzestan

Hormizd-Ardashir Susa Ram-Hormizd Shushtar Gundishapur

Central Persia

Nahavand Spahan Waj Rudh Ray

Northern Persia

Tabaristan Armenia Azerbaijan Caucasian Albania Iberia

Pars

Bishapur Darabgerd 1st Estakhr Gor 2nd Estakhr

Kerman

Sirjan Qeshm

Sakastan

Zaranj

Khorasan

Oxus River Nishapur Herat Badghis

The city of Marv, Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
in the 4th century as shown on the Peutinger Map

Sassanian
Sassanian
rule came to an end when the last Sassanian
Sassanian
ruler, Yazdegerd III (632–651) was killed not far from the city and the Sassanian military governor surrendered to the approaching Arab
Arab
army. Representatives of the caliph Umar
Umar
occupied the city, which became the capital of the Umayyad
Umayyad
province of Khorasan. In 671 Ziyad ibn Abi Sufyan sent 50,000 Arab
Arab
troops to Merv
Merv
as a colony. This colony retained its native Kufan sympathies and became the nucleus of Khurasan.[7] Using the city as their base, the Arabs, led by Qutayba ibn Muslim
Muslim
from 705 to 715, brought under subjection large parts of Central Asia, including Balkh, Bokhara, and Fergana. Merv, and Khorasan in general, became one of the first parts of the Persian-speaking world to become majority-Muslim. Arab
Arab
immigration to the area was substantial. A Chinese captured at Talas, Du Huan, was brought to Baghdad
Baghdad
and toured the caliphate. He observed that in Merv, Khurasan, Arabs and Persians lived in mixed concentrations.[8] Merv
Merv
gained renewed importance in February 748 when the Iranian general Abu Muslim
Muslim
(d. 755) declared a new Abbasid dynasty
Abbasid dynasty
at Merv, expanding and re-founding the city, and, in the name of the Abbasid line, used the city as a base of rebellion against the Umayyad caliphate. After the Abbasids became established in Baghdad, Abu Muslim
Muslim
continued to rule Merv
Merv
as a semi-independent prince until his eventual assassination. Indeed, Merv
Merv
operated as the center of Abbasid partisanship for the duration of the Abbasid
Abbasid
Revolution of 746-750, and later on became a consistent source of political support for the Abbasid
Abbasid
rulers in Baghdad; the governorship of Khurasan at Merv
Merv
was considered[by whom?] one of the most important political figures of the Caliphate. The influential Barmakid family, based in Merv, played an important part in transferring Greek knowledge (established in Merv since the days of the Seleucids
Seleucids
and Greco-Bactrians) into the Arab world. Throughout the Abbasid
Abbasid
era (750-1258), Merv
Merv
remained the capital and most important city of Khurasan. During this time, the Arab
Arab
historian Al-Muqaddasi
Al-Muqaddasi
(c. 945/946 - 991) called Merv
Merv
"delightful, fine, elegant, brilliant, extensive, and pleasant". Merv's architecture perhaps[original research?] provided the inspiration for the Abbasid re-planning of Baghdad. The city was notable as a home for immigrants from the Arab
Arab
lands as well as for those from Sogdia
Sogdia
and elsewhere in Central Asia
Central Asia
(Herrmann 1999). In the period from 813 to 818, the temporary residency of the caliph al-Ma'mun effectively made Merv
Merv
the capital of the Muslim
Muslim
world and highlighted Merv's importance to the Abbasids. Merv
Merv
also became the center of a major 8th-century Neo- Mazdakite
Mazdakite
movement led by al-Muqanna, the "Veiled Prophet", who gained many followers by claiming to be an incarnation of God and heir to Abu Muslim; the Khurramiyya
Khurramiyya
inspired by him persisted in Merv
Merv
until the 12th century. During this period Merv, like Samarkand
Samarkand
and Bukhara, functioned as one of the great cities of Muslim
Muslim
scholarship; the celebrated historian Yaqut (1179–1229) studied in its libraries. Merv
Merv
produced a number of scholars in various branches of knowledge, such as Islamic law, hadith, history, and literature. Several scholars have the name Marwazi (المروزي) designating them as hailing from Merv, including[citation needed] the famous Ahmad Ibn Hanbal
Ahmad Ibn Hanbal
(780–855). The city continued to have a substantial Christian community. In 1009 the Archbishop of Merv
Merv
sent a letter to the Patriarch at Baghdad asking that the Keraites
Keraites
be allowed to fast less than other Nestorian Christians.[9] As the caliphate weakened, Arab
Arab
rule in Merv
Merv
was replaced by that of the Persian general Tahir b. al -Husayn and his Tahirid dynasty
Tahirid dynasty
in 821. The Tahirids ruled Merv
Merv
from 821 to 873, followed by the Saffarids
Saffarids
(873-), then the Samanids
Samanids
and later the Ghaznavids. Turks in Merv[edit]

History of the Turkic peoples Pre-14th century

Turkic Khaganate
Turkic Khaganate
552–744

  Western Turkic

  Eastern Turkic

Khazar Khaganate 618–1048

Xueyantuo
Xueyantuo
628–646

Great Bulgaria 632–668

  Danube Bulgaria

  Volga Bulgaria

Kangar union
Kangar union
659–750

Turk Shahi
Turk Shahi
665–850

Turgesh
Turgesh
Khaganate 699–766

Uyghur Khaganate
Uyghur Khaganate
744–840

Karluk Yabgu State 756–940

Kara-Khanid Khanate
Kara-Khanid Khanate
840–1212

  Western Kara-Khanid

  Eastern Kara-Khanid

Ganzhou Uyghur Kingdom
Ganzhou Uyghur Kingdom
848–1036

Qocho
Qocho
856–1335

Pecheneg Khanates 860–1091 Kimek confederation 743–1035

Cumania 1067–1239 Oghuz Yabgu State 750–1055

Ghaznavid Empire 963–1186

Seljuk Empire
Seljuk Empire
1037–1194

  Sultanate of Rum

Kerait khanate 11th century–13th century

Khwarazmian Empire 1077–1231

Naiman Khanate –1204

Qarlughid Kingdom 1224–1266

Delhi Sultanate
Delhi Sultanate
1206–1526

  Mamluk dynasty

  Khalji dynasty

  Tughlaq dynasty

Golden Horde
Golden Horde
[10][11][12] 1240s–1502

Mamluk Sultanate (Cairo)
Mamluk Sultanate (Cairo)
1250–1517

  Bahri dynasty

  Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
1299–1923

Other Turkic dynasties 

in Anatolia Artuqid dynasty Saltuqid dynasty in Azerbaijan Ahmadili dynasty Ildenizid dynasty in Egypt Tulunid dynasty Ikhshidid dynasty in Fars Salghurid dynasty in The Levant Burid dynasty Zengid dynasty

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In 1037, the Seljuks, a clan of Oghuz Turks
Oghuz Turks
moving from the steppes east of the Aral Sea, peacefully took over Merv
Merv
under the leadership of Toghril Beg—the Ghaznavid sultan Masud was extremely unpopular in the city. Togrul's brother Çagry stayed in Merv
Merv
as the Seljuk domains grew to include the rest of Khurasan and Iran, and it subsequently became a favorite city of the Seljuk leadership. Alp Arslan
Alp Arslan
(Sultan: 1063-1072) and his descendant Sultan Sanjar
Sanjar
(died 1157) were both buried at Merv. During this period Merv
Merv
expanded to its greatest size— Arab
Arab
and Persian geographers termed it "the mother of the world", the "rendezvous of great and small", the "chief city of Khurasan" and the capital of the eastern Islamic world. Written sources also attest to a large library and madrasa founded by Nizam al-Mulk
Nizam al-Mulk
(Vizier: 1064-1092), as well as many other major cultural institutions. Perhaps most importantly, Merv
Merv
was said[by whom?] to have a market that is "the best of the major cities of Iran
Iran
and Khurasan" (Herrmann 1999). Sanjar's rule, marked by conflict with the Kara-Khitai
Kara-Khitai
and Khwarazmians, ended in 1153 when Turkish Ghuzz nomads from beyond the Amu Darya
Amu Darya
pillaged the city. Subsequently, Merv
Merv
changed hands between the Khwarazmians of Khiva, the Ghuzz, and the Ghurids - it began to lose importance relative to Khurasan's other major city, Nishapur. Mongols
Mongols
in Merv[edit] In 1221 Merv
Merv
opened its gates to Tolui, son of Genghis Khan, chief of the Mongols, on which occasion most of the inhabitants are said to have been butchered. The Persian historian Juvayni, writing a generation after the destruction of Merv, wrote

"The Mongols
Mongols
ordered that, apart from four hundred artisans. .., the whole population, including the women and children, should be killed, and no one, whether woman or man, be spared. To each [ Mongol
Mongol
soldier] was allotted the execution of three or four hundred Persians. So many had been killed by nightfall that the mountains became hillocks, and the plain was soaked with the blood of the mighty."

Some historians[who?] believe that over one million people died in the aftermath of the city's capture, including hundreds of thousands of refugees from elsewhere, making it one of the most bloody captures of a city in world history. Excavations revealed drastic rebuilding of the city's fortifications in the aftermath, but the prosperity of the city had passed. The Mongol
Mongol
invasion spelt the eclipse of Merv
Merv
and indeed of other major centres for more than a century. After the Mongol
Mongol
conquest, Merv became part of the Ilkhanate
Ilkhanate
and was consistently looted by Chagatai Khanate. In the early part of the 14th century the town became the seat of a Christian archbishopric of the Eastern Church under the rule of the Kartids, vassals of the Ilkhanids. By 1380 Merv
Merv
belonged to the empire of Timur
Timur
(Tamerlane). Uzbeks
Uzbeks
in Merv
Merv
and its final destruction[edit] In 1505 the Uzbeks
Uzbeks
occupied Merv; five years later Shah Ismail, the founder of the Safavid dynasty
Safavid dynasty
of Persia, expelled them. In this period a Persian nobleman restored a large dam (the 'Soltanbent') on the river Murghab, and the settlement which grew up in the area thus irrigated became known as "Baýramaly", as referenced in some 19th-century texts. Merv
Merv
remained in the hands of Persia
Persia
(except for periods of Uzbek rule between 1524 and 1528 and again between 1588 and 1598) until 1785, when Shah Murad, the Emir of Bokhara, captured the city. A few years later, in 1788 and 1789, the Bukharan Manghit
Manghit
king, Shah Murad Beg razed the city to the ground, broke down the dams, and converted the district into a waste. The entire population of the city and the surrounding oasis of about 100,000 were then deported in several stages to the Bukharan oasis and Samarkand
Samarkand
region in the Zarafshan
Zarafshan
Valley. Being nearly all Azerbaijani Turkish-speaking Shi'as from the Izzeddinlu branch of Qajar tribe, the deportees resisted assimilation into the Sunni population of Bukhara, despite the common language they spoke with most Bukharan natives. These Marvis survive as of 2016[update] — Soviet censuses listed them as "Iranis/Iranians" through the 1980s. They live in Samarkand
Samarkand
as well as in Bukhara
Bukhara
and in the area in between on the Zarafshan
Zarafshan
river. Nineteenth century[edit]

Part of a series on the

History of Turkmenistan

Early History A Turkmen Nation Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
under the USSR Since Independence

v t e

Merv
Merv
passed to the Khanate of Khiva
Khiva
in 1823. Sir Alexander Burnes traversed the country in 1832. About this time, the Tekke Turkomans, then living on the Tejen
Tejen
River, were forced by the Persians to migrate northward. Khiva
Khiva
contested the advance of the Tekkes, but ultimately, about 1856, the latter became the sovereign power in the country, and remained so until the Russians
Russians
occupied the oasis in 1884. By 1868 the Russians
Russians
had taken most of Russian Central Asia
Central Asia
except Turkmenistan. They approached this area from the Caspian and in 1881 captured Geok Tepe. Merv
Merv
was taken bloodlessly by an officer named Alikhanov. A Muslim
Muslim
from the Caucasus, he had risen to the rank of major in the Russian service. After fighting a duel with a superior officer he was demoted to the ranks and by 1882 had risen to lieutenant. In 1882 he entered Merv, claiming to be a Russian merchant, and negotiated a trade agreement. Meanwhile, Russian agents had used a mixture of bribes and threats to develop a pro-Russian party in the area. The Russians
Russians
occupied the oasis of Tejen, eighty miles to the west. In 1884 Alikhanov entered Merv
Merv
in the uniform of a Russian officer along with a number of Turkoman notables who had already submitted. He claimed that the troops at Tejen
Tejen
were the spearhead of a larger force and that local autonomy would be respected. Seeing no hope of support from Persia
Persia
or Britain, the elders submitted. The next Russian move was south toward Herat. Remains[edit] Some exploratory excavations at Merv
Merv
were conducted in 1885[13] by the Russian general A.V. Komarov, the governor of the Transcaspian oblast, 1883–89; Komarov employed his Tsarist troops as excavators and published his collection of trophy artifacts and coins from the area in 1900.[14] The first fully professional dig was directed by Valentin Alekseevich Zhukovsky of the Imperial Archaeological Commission, in 1890 and published in 1894.[15] The American Carnegie Institute's excavations were under the direction of a geologist, Raphael Pumpelly, and a German archaeologist, Hubert Schmidt. Merv
Merv
is currently the focus of the Ancient Merv
Merv
Project (initially as the International Merv
Merv
Project).[16] From 1992 to 2000, a joint team of archaeologists from Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
and the UK have made remarkable discoveries. In 2001, a new collaboration was started between the Institute of Archaeology, University College London
University College London
and the Turkmen authorities.[citation needed] This Ancient Merv
Merv
Project is concerned with the complex conservation and management issues posed by this remarkable site, furthering our understanding of the site through archaeological research, and disseminating the results of the work to the widest possible audience. Organization of remains[edit] Merv
Merv
consists of a few discrete walled cities very near to each other, each of which was constructed on uninhabited land by builders of different eras, used, and then abandoned and never rebuilt. Four walled cities correspond to the chief periods of Merv's importance: the oldest, Erkgala, corresponds to Achaemenid
Achaemenid
Merv, and is the smallest of the three. Gäwürgala (also known as Gyaur Gala), which surrounds Erkgala, comprises the Hellenistic
Hellenistic
and Sassanian
Sassanian
metropolis and also served as an industrial suburb to the Abbasid/Seljuk city, Soltangala – by far the largest of the three. The smaller Timurid city was founded a short distance to the south and is now called Abdyllahangala. Various other ancient buildings are scattered between and around these four cities; all of the sites are preserved in the “Ancient Merv
Merv
Archaeological Park” just north of the modern village of Baýramaly
Baýramaly
and thirty kilometers east of the large Soviet-built city of Mary (Herrmann 1993). Erk Gala[edit]

Erk Gala

Erk Gala (from Persian, "the citadel fort") is the oldest part of the city of Merv
Merv
complex. Built in the 7th century BC Erk Gala was built as a Persian Style fortress controlling the oasis on the Murghab River.[17] The Erk Gala fortress later served as the acropolis for the Hellenistic
Hellenistic
city and later the Arc of the Islamic city. Gäwürgala[edit] The foundation of Gäwürgala (Turkmen take from Persian " Gabr Qala" ("Fortress of the Zoroastrians") occurred in the early Hellenistic
Hellenistic
era under the rule of the Seleucid
Seleucid
king Antiochus I. The city was continuously inhabited under a series of Hellenistic
Hellenistic
rulers, by the Parthians, and subsequently under the Sassanids, who made it the capital of a satrapy. Gäwürgala was the capital of the Umayyad province of Khurasan and grew in importance as Khurasan became the most loyally Muslim
Muslim
part of the Iranian world during Islam's first two centuries.

Photo-textured 3D laser scan image of Gäwürgala town walls

Gäwürgala's most visible remaining structures are its defensive installations. Three walls, one built atop the next, are in evidence. A Seleucid
Seleucid
wall, graduated in the interior and straight on the exterior, forms a platform for the second, larger wall, built of mudbricks and stepped on the interior. The form of this wall is similar to other Hellenistic
Hellenistic
fortresses found in Anatolia, though this unique for being made of mud-brick instead of stone. The third wall is possibly Sassanian
Sassanian
and is built of larger bricks (Williams 2002). Surrounding the wall was a variety of pottery sherds, particularly Parthian ones. The size of these fortifications are evidence of Merv's importance during the pre-Islamic era; no pre-Islamic fortifications of comparable size have been found anywhere in the Garagum. Gäwürgala is also important for the vast amount of numismatic data that it has revealed; an unbroken series of Sassanian
Sassanian
coins has been found there, hinting the extraordinary political stability of this period. Even after the foundation of Soltangala by Abu Muslim
Muslim
at the start of the Abbasid
Abbasid
dynasty, Gäwürgala persisted as a suburb of the larger Soltangala. In Gäwürgala are concentrated many Abbasid-era "industrial" buildings: pottery kilns, steel, iron and copper-working workshops and so on. A well-preserved pottery kiln has an intact vaulted arch support and a square firepit. Gyaur Gala
Gyaur Gala
seems to have been the craftsmens' quarters throughout the Abbasid
Abbasid
and pre-Seljuk periods (Herrmann, "Seventh Season" 13).[18] Soltangala[edit]

Sultan Sanjar
Sanjar
mausoleum

Soltangala (from Sultan Qala, the sultan's fortress) is by far the largest of Merv's cities. Textual sources (Herrmann 1999) establish that it was Abu Muslim, the leader of the Abbasid
Abbasid
rebellion, who symbolized the beginning of the new Caliphate
Caliphate
by commissioning monumental structures to the west of the Gäwürgala walls, in what then became Soltangala. The area was quickly walled and became the core of medieval Merv; centuries of prosperity which followed are attested to by the many Abbasid-era köshks discovered in and outside of Soltangala. Kushks (Persian, Kushk, "pavilion", "kiosk"), which comprise the chief remains of Abbasid
Abbasid
Merv, are a building type unique to Central Asia
Central Asia
during this period. A kind of semi-fortified two-story palace whose corrugated walls give it a unique and striking appearance, köshks were the residences of Merv's elite. The second story of these structures comprised living quarters; the first story may have been used for storage. Parapets lined the roof, which was often used for living quarters as well. Merv's largest and best-preserved Abbasid
Abbasid
köşk is the Greater Gyzgala (Turkmen, "maiden's fortress"), located just outside the Soltangala's western wall; this structure consisted of 17 rooms surrounding a central courtyard. The nearby Lesser Gyzgala had extraordinarily thick walls with deep corrugations, as well as multiple interior stairways leading to second-story living quarters. All of Merv's kushks are in precarious states of preservation (Herrmann 1999). However, the most important of Soltangala's surviving buildings are Seljuk constructions. In the 11th century CE, the nomadic Oghuz Turks, formerly vassals of the Khwarazmshah
Khwarazmshah
in the northern steppes, began to move southward under the leadership of the Seljuk clan and its ruler Togrul Beg. Togrul's conquest of Merv
Merv
in 1037 revitalized the city; under his descendants, especially Sanjar, who made it his residence, Merv
Merv
found itself at the center of a large multicultural empire. Evidence of this prosperity is found throughout the Soltangala. Many of these are concentrated in Soltangala's citadel, the Shahryar Ark (Persian, "the Sovereign's citadel") of the, located on its east side. In the center of the Sharhryar Ark is located the Seljuk palace probably built by Sanjar. The surviving mud brick walls lead to the conclusion that this palace, relatively small, was composed of tall single-story rooms surrounding a central court along with four axial iwans at the entrance to each side (Ettinghausen 276). Low areas nearby seem to indicate a large garden which included an artificial lake; similar gardens were found in other Central Asian palaces (Williams 2002). Any remnants of interior or exterior decoration have been lost due to erosion or theft.

Interior of Kepderihana, with a 3D laser scanner positioned for work

Exterior of Kepderihana's south wall

Another notable Seljuk structure within the Shahryar Ark is the kepderihana (from Persian, "Kaftar Khana, or "pigeon house", i.e., the columbarium). This mysterious building, among the best-preserved in the whole Merv
Merv
oasis, comprises one long and narrow windowless room with many tiers of niches across the walls. It is believed by some [sources] that the kepter khana (there are more elsewhere in Merv
Merv
and Central Asia) was indeed a pigeon roost used to raise pigeons, in order to collect their dung which is used in growing the melons for which Merv
Merv
was famous. Others, just as justifiably (Herrmann 1999), see the kepderihanas as libraries or treasuries, due to their location in high status areas next to important structures. The best-preserved of all the structures in Merv
Merv
is the 12th-century mausoleum of Sultan Sanjar, also in Sultan Gala. It is the largest of Seljuk mausoleums and is also the first dated mosque-mausoleum complex, a form which was later to become common. It is square, 27 meters per side, with two entrances on opposite sides; a large central dome supported by an octagonal system of ribs and arches covers the interior (Ettinghausen 270). The dome's exterior was turquoise, and its height made it quite imposing; it was said that approaching caravans could see the mausoleum while still a day's march from the city. The mausoleum's decoration, in typical early Seljuk style, was conservative, with interior stucco work and geometric brick decoration, now mainly lost, on the outside (Ettinghausen 271). With the exception of the recently "reconstructed" exterior decoration, the mausoleum is largely intact, and remains, just as is in the 12th century. A final set of Seljuk remains are the walls of the Soltangala. These fortifications, which in large part still remain, began as eight-to-nine-metre-high (26 to 30 ft) mud brick structures, inside of which were chambers for defenders to shoot arrows from. There were horseshoe-shaped towers every 15 to 35 metres (49 to 115 ft). These walls, however, did not prove to be effective because they were not of adequate thickness to withstand catapults and other artillery. By the mid-12th century, the galleries were filled in, and the wall was greatly strengthened. A secondary, smaller wall was built in front of the Soltangala's main wall, and finally the medieval city's suburbs – known today as Isgendergala – were enclosed by a 5-metre-thick (16 ft) wall. The three walls sufficed to hold off the Mongol
Mongol
army for at least one of its offensives, before ultimately succumbing in 1221.[19] Many ceramics have also been recovered from the Abbasid
Abbasid
and Seljuk eras, primarily from Gäwürgala, the city walls of Soltangala, and the Shahryar Ark. The Gäwürgala ware was primarily late Abbasid, and it consisted primarily of red slip-painted bowls with geometric designs. The pottery recovered from the Sultan Gala walls is dominated by 11th–12th-century color-splashed yellow and green pottery, similar to contemporary styles common in Nishapur
Nishapur
(Herrmann 2000). Turquoise and black bowls were discovered in the Shahryar Ark palace, as well as an interesting deposit of Mongol-style pottery perhaps related to the city's unsuccessful re-foundation under the Il-khans. Also from this era is a ceramic mask used for decorating walls found among the ruins of what is believed – not without controversy – to be a Mongol-built Buddhist
Buddhist
temple in the southern suburbs of Sultan Gala.[20] Shaim Kala[edit] Shaim Kala was built in the 7th century AD. Shaim Kala was a self-contained walled city intended to relieve the over-crowding, and to deal with religious and political discontent of the newly arrived peoples.[21] Abdyllahangala[edit] Abdyllahangala is the post medieval Timrid era city to the south of the main complex.[22] Gallery[edit]

Great Kyz Qala

Little Kyz Qala

part of Kyz Qala

Sultan Sanjar
Sanjar
Mausoleum

Mosque
Mosque
(Merv)

Merv
Merv
coin

Soltan Sanjaryň mawzoleýi

Demographics[edit] The present inhabitants of the oasis are primarily Turkmens
Turkmens
of the Teke tribe
Teke tribe
and some Persians/Tajiks. There are relatively large minorities of the Beluch/Baluch and the Brahui in the Merv
Merv
Oasis
Oasis
as well. Economy[edit] The oasis is irrigated by an elaborate system of canals cut from the Murghab. The country has at all times been renowned throughout the East for its fertility. Every kind of cereal and many fruits grow in great abundance, e.g. wheat, millet, barley and melons, also rice and cotton. Cotton seeds from archaeological levels as far back as the 5th century are the first indication that cotton textiles were already an important economic component of the Sassanian
Sassanian
city. Silkworms have been bred. The Turkomans possess a famous breed of horses and keep camels, sheep, cattle, asses and mules. Turkomans are workers in silver and armour. One of the discoveries of the 1990s excavations was a 9th- to 10th-century workshop where crucible steel was being produced, confirming in detail contemporary Islamic reports by Islamic scholar, al-Kindi (AD 801–866). He referred to the region of Khorasan as producing steel. This was made by a co-fusion process in which cast iron and wrought iron are melted together.[23][24] Carpets from the region of Merv
Merv
are sometimes considered superior to the Persian.[citation needed] They also make felts and a rough cloth of sheep's wool. Geography[edit] The oasis of Merv
Merv
is situated on the Murghab River
Murghab River
that flows down from Afghanistan, on the southern edge of the Karakum Desert, at 37°30’N and 62°E, about 230 miles (370 km) north of Herat, and 280 miles (450 km) south of Khiva. Its area is about 1,900 square miles (4,900 km2). The great chain of mountains which, under the names of Paropamisade
Paropamisade
and Hindu Kush, extends from the Caspian Sea
Caspian Sea
to the Pamir Mountains
Pamir Mountains
is interrupted some 180 miles (290 km) south of Merv. Through or near this gap flow northwards in parallel courses the Tejen
Tejen
and Murgab rivers, until they lose themselves in the Karakum Desert. Thus they make Merv
Merv
a sort of watch tower over the entrance into Afghanistan
Afghanistan
on the north-west and at the same time create a stepping-stone or étape between north-east Persia and the states of Bokhara and Samarkand. Merv
Merv
is advantageously situated in the inland delta of the Murghab River, which flows from its source in the Hindu Kush
Hindu Kush
northwards through the Garagum
Garagum
desert. The Murghab delta region, known to the Greeks as Margiana, gives Merv
Merv
two distinct advantages: first, it provides an easy southeast-northwest route from the Afghan highlands towards the lowlands of Karakum, the Amu Darya
Amu Darya
valley and Khwarezm. Second, the Murgab delta, being a large well-watered zone in the midst of the dry Karakum, serves as a natural stopping-point for the routes from northwest Iran
Iran
towards Transoxiana
Transoxiana
– the Silk Roads. The delta, and thus Merv, lies at the junction of these two routes: the northwest-southeast route to Herat
Herat
and Balkh
Balkh
(to the Indus
Indus
and beyond) and the southwest-northeast route from Tus and Nishapur
Nishapur
to Bukhara
Bukhara
and Samarkand. This place was a stop on the Silk Road
Silk Road
during the time of the Han dynasty. Here merchants could trade for fresh horses or camels at this oasis city. Climate[edit] Merv
Merv
is dry and hot in summer and cold in winter. The heat of summer is oppressive. The wind raises clouds of fine dust which fill the air, rendering it opaque, almost obscuring the noonday sun. These clouds make breathing difficult. In winter the climate is pleasant. Snow falls rarely, and when it does, it melts at once. The annual rainfall rarely exceeds 125 mm, and there is often no rain from June until October. While in summer temperatures can reach 45 °C (113 °F), in winter they can be as low as −7 °C (19 °F). The average yearly temperature is 16 °C (61 °F). International relations[edit] See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in Turkmenistan Twin towns and sister cities[edit] Merv
Merv
is twinned with

 Balkh;  Baku;  Wuhan;  Zagreb;  Cairo;  Nishapur, Tabriz, Hamedan
Hamedan
and Isfahan;  Baghdad, Karbala
Karbala
and Kirkuk;  Jerusalem;  Venice;   Kuwait
Kuwait
City;  Lahore;  Gaza;  Saint Petersburg;   Medina
Medina
and Mecca;   Damascus
Damascus
and Aleppo;  Khujand;  Istanbul, Konya, Bursa
Bursa
and İzmir;  Nisa and Old Urgench;  Dubai;   Bukhara
Bukhara
and Samarkand.

See also[edit]

Gunar Tepe

References[edit]

^ Vendidad, Faragard-1 ^ "Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Photography: Exploring the Medieval City
City
of Merv, on the Silk Roads of Central Asia" by Tim Williams in Archaeology International, Issue 15 (2011–2012), pp. 74–88. ^ Antiochia Margiana ^ Anur Tour Uzbekistan. "Merv, Ruins in Merv, Sights of Turkmenistan, Tours to Turkmenistan". Tourstoturkmenistan.com. Retrieved 2016-10-21.  ^ [1] ^ "Ancient Merv- the Queen of the W". Asthabharati.org. Retrieved 2016-10-21.  ^ Muir pp. 295–6 ^ Harvard University. Center for Middle Eastern Studies (1999). Harvard Middle Eastern and Islamic review, Volumes 5–7. Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University. p. 89. Retrieved 2010-11-28.  ^ Cary-Elwes, Columba. China
China
and the Cross. (New York: P. J. Kennedy and Sons, 1956) ^ Marshall Cavendish Corporation (2006). Peoples of Western Asia. p. 364.  ^ Bosworth, Clifford Edmund (2007). Historic Cities of the Islamic World. p. 280.  ^ Borrero, Mauricio (2009). Russia: A Reference Guide from the Renaissance to the Present. p. 162.  ^ Merv, controlling the route from Herat, was conquered by Komarov's troops without much resistance in 1885, part of the Great Game: André Kamev, Le Turkménistan 2005:104 ^ Fredrik T. Hiebert, Kakamyrat Gurbansähedow and Hubert Schmidt, A Central Asian Village at the Dawn of Civilization, Excavations at Anau (University of Pennsylvania) 2003:3. ^ V.A. Zhukovsky, Razvalinii starogo Merva (St Peterburg, 1894). ^ "Ancient Merv
Merv
Project". Ucl.ac.uk. Retrieved 2016-10-21.  ^ "golden age". Turkmenistan.gov.tm. Retrieved 2016-10-21.  ^ " Merv
Merv
city Islam
Islam
Story - Supervised by Dr. Ragheb Elsergany". Islam
Islam
Story. Retrieved 2016-10-21.  ^ Herrmann 2000 ^ Herrmann 1999 ^ "Merv". Ucl.ac.uk. Retrieved 2016-10-21.  ^ [2] ^ "Crucible damascus steel: A fascination for almost 2,000 years". JOM. 58: 48–50. doi:10.1007/s11837-006-0023-y. Retrieved 7 October 2014.  ^ Donald B. Wagner (continuing from Joseph Needham), Science and Civilisation in China: 5. Chemistry and Chemical Technology: part 11 Ferrous Metallurgy (Cambridge University Press 2008), 265 357.

Sources and external links[edit]

Look up merv in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Merv.

Sources

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Merv". Encyclopædia Britannica. 18 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 175–176. 

Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Merv.

British Museum Research Project Hazlitt's Classical Gazetteer Ancient Merv
Merv
Project UCL Merv
Merv
Digital Media Archive (creative commons-licensed photos, laser scans, panoramas), particularly focusing on Sultan Kala (Gala), with data from a University College London/ CyArk
CyArk
research partnership O'Donovan, Edmund (1882). The Merv
Merv
Oasis, travels and adventures east of the Caspian during the years 1879-80-81 including five months' residence among the Tekkés of Merv.  Tahmuras, the mythical father and founder of Merv

Preceded by Isfahan Capital of Seljuq Empire
Seljuq Empire
(Persia) (Eastern capital) 1118–1153 Succeeded by Gurganj

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Iranian architecture

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Azeri Isfahani Razi

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Traditional cities

Amol Andijan Baku Bam Bukhara Ctesiphon Derbent Ganja Gur-e-Amir Hatra Herat Isfahan Kashan Khiva Khorramabad Mashhad Merv Nakhchivan Nishapur Persepolis Qazvin Qom Samarkand Shahrisabz Shiraz Susa Tabriz Takht-e Soleymān Tehran Yazd

Theory and analysis

Islamic architecture Traditional Persian residential architecture Traditional water sources of Persian antiquity

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