Silk Roads Sites in Turkmenistan


No. Name of property  State, Province or Region Area (ha) Geographic (lat/long) or UTM Coordinates of approximate centre point
1 Amul  Lebap velayat 5 At the outskirts of the modern Turkmenabat city
2 Akcha-gala Bayramaly etrap, Mary velayat 1.2 Approximately 8 km to the north-east of Merv, at the Akcha-gala deserted place
3 Geok-Gumbez (3 medieval mausolea) Geok-Gumbez (3 medieval mausolea) 01, 0.09, 0.06 At the Geok-Gumbez deserted place, 70 km north of Merv
1 Chilburj Bayramaly etrap, Mary velayat 5.20 20 km to the north-west of Merv
2 Gyobekly Garagum etrap, Mary velayat 1.44 32 km to the north-west of Merv
3 Khurmuzfarra (Uly Kishman) Garagum etrap, Mary velayat 1.1 About 31 km the north of Merv
4 Gurtly-depe (medieval Bashan) Bayramaly etrap, Mary velayat   0.3 Approximately 25 km northwards from Ancient Merv
5 Odemerghen-gala (rabat Suran) Bayramaly etrap, Mary velayat 0.17 About 100 km to the north of Bayramaly city
1 Talkhatan-baba (mosque) Iolotan etrap, Mary velayat 0.18 30 km to the west of Merv
2 Ekegowak (Ekedeshik) Tahtabazar etrap, Mary velayat 0.06 In the south of Turkmenistan, near the etrap centre of Tagtabazar
1 Dargan urban site  Birata etrap, Lebap velayat 24.5 4.5 km to the south-east of the Birata etrap (regional) center
2 Dayakhatyn caravanserai Lebap velayat 1.35 173 km northwards from Turkmenabat city, near the Khanabad railway station
1 Astana-Baba (medival Maimarg):

1) Alamberdar mausoleum and

2) Astana-Baba architectural complex

Atamyrat etrap, Lebap velayat   0.43 12 km to the north-west of the town of Atamyrat
1 Dashrabat (Dandanakan) Mary etrap, Mary velayat 7.61 35 km to the south-west of Mary city
2 Old Sarakhs (urban site and Abul-Fazl mausoleum) Sarakhs etrap, Akhal velayat 120 In the upper reaches of Tejen river
3 Mele-Hairam temple complex Sarakhs etrap, Akhal velayat 2 About 15 km eastwards from the town of Sarakhs
1 Pulkhatyn bridge Sarakhs etrap, Akhal velayat 0.2 70 km to the south of the town of Sarakhs
2 Injirli urban site Sarakhs etrap, Akhal velayat 3.2 42 km north-west-westwards from the Akrabat settlement (Badkhyz)
1 Meana-Baba architectural complex Kaka etrap, Akhal velayat 0.36 217 km to the east of Ashgabat city
2 Kyone Kaka  Kaka etrap, Akhal velayat 27 At the north-eastern border of Kaka settlement
3 Abiverd Kaka etrap, Akhal velayat 42  Westwards from Kaka
1 Anau urban site and ruins of the mosque of Said Jamal-ad-Din Akbugdai etrap, Akhal velayat 0.9 12 km eastwards from the Ashgabat city
1 Durun and Ak Ymam mausoleum Bakharly etrap, Akhal velayat 9.6 5-6 km to the east of the town of Bakharly

a) Dekhistan (Mashat-Misrian), b) Mashat-ata mosque-mausoleum (Shir-Kabir),

c) group of medieval mausolea at Mashat-ata cemetery

Etrek etrap, Balkan velayat 264 90 km to the north-west of the town of Etrek and 22 km to the north-west of Madau settlement.
 1   Ygdy gala   Serdar etrap, Balkan velayat   4.4   150 km to the north of the town of Serdar
 2 a) Shakhsenem (medieval Suvburun),

b) Shakhsenem, suburb garden

  Akdepe etrap, Dashoguz velayat  5   90 km to the south-west of the town of Kene Urgench
3 Diyarbekir Gubadag etrap, Dashoguz velayat 5.8 Approximately 90 km to the west of the Dashoguz city
4 Yzmykshir fortress (mediaval Zamakhshar) Tagta etrap, Dashoguz velayat 16  Approximately 30 km to the south-west of the Dashoguz city
5  Devkesen (medieval Vazir) Turkmenbashi etrap, Dashoguz velayat 24.5  60 km to west of the town of Kene Urgench



1. Name of individual Silk Roads component property: Amul

Brief description of the component property:

Amul is the ancient and medieval site at the outskirts of the modern Turkmenabat city. The most ancient period of occupation refers to the I-IV cc. A.D. At that time it occupied the area of about 50 ha and was a part of Kushanian kingdom. Srating from the IV c. A.D. the period of crisis is observed. After Arabian conquest Amul was revived and by the IX c. became one of the largest centres of international trade which promoted appreciable increase of the town. Amul, the capital of Middle Amudarya region, was an important transit point on the Great Silk Road. Here there were crossed two international routes - land and river ones. The land one led from Merv to Bukhara and China. Another land way led to the north, to Khorezm. The second route was Amudarya itself by which the goods from India through Afghanistan had been delivered. According to archaeological data Amul of that period consisted of shakhristan inside of which there was a citadel (ark), and outer town with 3 gates: northern, southern and eastern ones.

In 1220 Amul was destroyed by Mongols. The next significant stage of its life started in the XV c. when the town had been called already Charjui. The town plan of that period survived practically till 60-ies of the XX c.

Now the remains of shakhristan of Amul-Charjui represents nearly regular quadrangle with the area of 9 ha. It lies on the multi-meter pakhsa massif rising at a height of 21-24 m above surrounding locality. In the north-western corner of the fortress a massive ark (citadel) next to 33 m high with 5 towers is located. Territory of rabad which had surrounded the Amul shakhristan exceeded 150-175 ha.

Statement of authenticity and/or integrity of the individual component property:

The origin of the name "Amul" is still under discussion. It appears in the VII c. A.D. In historical literature there are found also other its names: "Amuya", "Amuye", "Amu". Later the Persian abbreviated name "Amu" was applied to the Oxus-Jeikhun river which was started to call Amudarya (Amu-river), Since the late XV c. a new name of the town appears, that Charjui (or "Charkhajub - four streams") which gradually replaces the old one. Informations of the medieval Amul-Charjui are found among a series of authors: al-Belazury (IX c.), ibn-Khordadbekh (IX c.), al-Istakhry, al-Makdisy, ibn-Khaukal (X c.), Yakut (XIII c.), Mukhammed Kazim (XVIII c.) and others.

Amul is practically unstudied in historical-archaeological respect. Prospecting works on the site was carried out by the expedition of the Institute of Turkmen Culture (1931) and by the YuTAKE (1949-50). In 1954 the YuTAKE implemented historical-topographic and stratigraphical investigations. In 1990 the Middle Amudarya expedition (A.A.Burkhanov) started permanent excavations at the Amul site.

Comparison of the Silk Roads component property:

A) Within the State Party:

Apart from Amul in the zone of the Middle Amudarya there are registered tens of similar multi-layer sites with next to square plan of shakhristans and citadels. They were formed finally during the Late Kushanian period (III-IV cc. A.D.) and were lost (with the exception of Amul') after Mongolian invasion (Beshir-kala, Khoja-Idat-kala, Khoja-Gunduz-kala, Ak-depe, Arapkhana, Kekreli-depe, Kutnam-kala, Chishlen-kala and others.

During ancient and medieval times Amudarya river played a key part in the life of the population of adjoining territories as the basis of agriculture and the main transport and trade artery in Middle Asia. It was also a linking element for the peoples living on its left and right banks. Emergence and development of many pair towns-fortresses (laying on both river banks) was connected, first of all, with the favourable geographic location - in the places of water crossing. Large settlements were usually situated on the left bank of Amudarya, while small advanced posts - on its right bank. Such were, for example: Amul and Farap (then Bityk), Zemm and Kerkichi, Khodja-Idat-kala and Navidakh etc. (in Turkmenistan) as well as ...   

B) Within the wider geo-political region:  

Ay-Khanum and Kokul' settlement, Takhti-Kubad and Takhti-Sanghin (in Afghanistan), Tashguzar and Old Termez in Uzbekistan.


2. Name of individual Silk Roads component property: Akcha-kala

Brief description of the component property:

Akcha-kala caravanserai (second half of the XI c.) situated on the ancient road from Merv to Amul, approximately 8 km to the north-east of Merv. This lonely station is remarkable for its dimensions (150x80 m) as well as for architecture. Its blank outer walls of pakhsa are shaped with goffers of unusual form: two semicircular quarter pillars are divided by flat blade with a joint slit in the middle. At the corners of outer walls there are diagonally located quadrate towers. On the main façade there is a massive peshtak with a lanced niche. The ceilings of the rooms were domed.

Statement of authenticity and/or integrity of the individual component property

Akcha-kala station had been not mentioned in the travel books of the IX-X cc. since it was shaped as a large caravanserai just in the XI c.

In 1952 Akcha-kala was investigated by the YuTAKE (M.E.Masson, G.A.Pugachenkova) in archaeological and topographical respects.

Comparison of the Silk Roads component property:

A) Within the State Party:

Akcha-kala brightly illustrates the local planning type of this structure usual for the medieval East. Such lay-out is found neither in the Near Eastern architecture nor in Maverannakhr. But it was enough wide-spread in Khorasan where the most characteristic inn type for this territory was formed by the end of the XI c. The lay out scheme of these rectangular or square but always symmetrical structures includes the courtyard along its perimeter surrounded with the rooms for guests, storehouses, open sheds for pack animals and forage. Sometimes a separate service courtyard was made for animals and forage as in caravanserai of Akcha-kala. Now Akcha-kala is perhaps the only survived example of caravanserais with two-part lay-out the analogy of which give just the caravanserais of Mansaf situated on the way from Merv to Amul (at present it does not exist)

B) Within the wider geo-political region:

Rabati-Sharaf constructed on the road from Merv to Nishapur (Iran).

The Akcha-kala appearance resembles the caravanserai of Rabat-i-Malik between Bukhara and Samarkand, the most monumental in the Middle Asia.


3. Name of individual Silk Roads component property: Geok-Gumbez mausolea

Brief description of the component property:

Geok-Gumbez is a deserted place 70 km to the north of Merv where 3 medieval mausolea (XIII-XIV cc.) are situated. They make the ensemble of buildings stretched in line. The largest of them has on the main façade a peshtak with a lancet arch; the other facades are formed by narrow wall niches. Dome is based on the bay pendentives. Outside, the dome was faced with the blue glazed bricks fallen down later. The second mausoleum has kept only a part of its walls and the portal analogical to the previous one; the third mausoleum has preserved a small peshtak added to the cube-shaped bulk and a burial vault.

Statement of authenticity and/or integrity of the individual component property

In writing sources the Geok-Gumbez ("Blue Dome") is mentioned just in the XV c. in the connection with the events of fight (struggle with, for, against, conflict between) of 1456 between Mirza-Sanjar and Timurid ruler Khusein ibn Mansur ibn Baikara.

In 1951 these monuments (until that time unstudied) were investigated by the YuTAKE.

Comparison of the Silk Roads component property:

A) Within the State Party:

3 mausolea in the Geok-Gumbez represent the traditional type of one-chambered portal-and-dome shrine of the Northern Khorasan architectural school. Here it is possible to trace the process of a new architectural type formation when the centric tomb of XI-XII cc. gave place to the portal-and-dome mausoleum with emphasized significance of monumental peshtak. The main Geok-Gumbez mausoleum reflects keeping local traditional methods in the architecture of XIII-XIV cc. and, at the same time, emergence of new architectural forms. Some constructional details typical for Merv architecture, for example, method of the tromp construction (like in the mausoleum of ibn-Zeid and the mosque of Talkhatan-baba) connect it with the foregoing period. The innovation is a strongly developed peshtak which not simply protrudes on main façade (like in the mausoleum of Abu-Said in Mekhne) but represents the principal and sole façade form.

B) Within the wider geo-political region:

The first mausoleum of Geok-Gumbez develops the same theme of one-chambered portal-and-dome shrine which is elaborated in the XIV c. in Meverannakhr (early group of the mausolea of Shakhi-Zind in Samarkand).



1. Name of individual Silk Roads component property: Chilburj

Brief description of the component property:

Chilburj is an ancient fortress 20 km to the north-west of Merv. Its historic name is not established. The fortress represents an irregular rectangle in plan (230-260x200 m). Its walls are thickly flanked with protruded rectangular goffered towers. The fortress corners are strengthened with powerful bastions. Sections between towers have in-wall passageways with the niches for archers. Towers and inter-tower ways are densely covered with arrow-shaped loopholes, mostly false. Chilburj had two gates (northern and southern ones) through which the central street crossed the town. Initially this was a military fortress therefore its yard was not built up; just in the centre a trace of some construction survived where the fire was kept on.

The fortress was founded in the Late Parthian time (II-III cc.A.D.). In the Late Sasanian period (V-VII cc.), Chilburj was a flourishing town with the dense building of shakhristan and rabad; its development was broken off by the Arabian invasion. The third stage of the town life refers to the period of the developed Middle Ages (X-XII cc.) when it was used for caravans' halting place; in the X c. a small juma-mosque (34x32 m) was built nearby. As a caravanserai Chilburj existed up to the Mongol invasion whereupon it was abandoned completely.

Statement of authenticity and/or integrity of the individual component property

Historical name of the town is not established. For the first time Chilburj was registered by the American mission (R.Pumpelly) at the beginning of the XX century but just after the investigations of the Southern Turkmen Archaeological Complex Expedition (YuTAKE) in the late 1940's - early 1950's it became widely known. In the 1980's the joint Turkmen-Russian archaeological expedition (A.G.Gubaev and G.A.Koshelenko) carried out here excavations. Information acquired in the process of these works allowed to conceive the history of this monument more exactly.

Comparison of the Silk Roads component property:

A) Within the State Party:

The Late Parthian fortress Chilburj continues traditions of the Early Parthian period which are fully reflected in the fortress of Durnaly (I-II cc. A.D.). Keeping traditional for the Parthian architecture the wall type with numerous towers of rectangular form cut through with embrasures (like in Durnaly).

B) Within the wider geo-political region:

The principle of gate fortification typical for the Middle Asian antiquity, Chilburj provides the earliest in Middle Asia example of using the wall goffering usual for the VII-X cc. architecture.


2. Name of individual Silk Roads component property: Gebekly

Brief description of the component property:

Gebekly is the ancient town site in the centre of Merv oasis situated 32 km to the north-west of Gyaur-kala. It represents a square (88x88 m) in plan. Ruins tower 12-13 m high above the locality. In the centre of the site there is a large building of the Parthian Period - the House of Ruler. Living and ceremonial premises occupied its centre and the system of bypass corridors was arranged along the periphery. The monument was surrounded by fortress walls along its perimeter. Gate was in the middle of the southern wall. There are no traces of building around the fortress.

Statement of authenticity and/or integrity of the individual component property

For the first time Gebekly-depe was marked by the American expedition in Turkestan (at the beginning of the XX c.).

Archaeological explorations carried out by the joint Russian-Turkmen expedition (G.A.Koshelenko, A.Gubaev) during 1980-s and 1997-2001 have allowed us to determine 4 principal periods of the site occupation: 1) time of its erection - before I c. A.D. (Yaz-III period); 2) Parthian time - I-II cc. A.D.; 3) the early Sasanian time - III c. A.D.; 4) IV c. A.D.

Comparison of the Silk Roads component property:

A) Within the State Party:

The fortress walls of Gebekly-depe find their parallels in the fortifications of the later fortress - Chilburj (in-wall corridor, rectangular towers divided in segments etc.).

The most sensational finds from Gebekly-depe are over 1000 Parthian bulls - clay articles of different forms with the impressions of seals which served for sealing the writing documents, vessels, doors etc. Depictions on the impressions include more than 30 plots. These plots follow different iconographic traditions: local ancient Margianian (various geometric ornaments) etc.

B) Within the wider geo-political region:

Ancient Oriental (a king sitting on the throne, a horse before the altar) and Hellenistic ones (portrayals of Pegasus, a naked male figure).

3. Name of individual Silk Roads component property: Khurmuzfarra (Uly Kishman)

Brief description of the component property:

The ruins of Khurmuzfarra are situated approximately 31 km to the north of Merv. This town served the important basic station on the trade route from Merv to Khorezm for centuries.

The caravanserai of Khurmuzfarra (IX-X cc.), built of mud brick, had the unique lay-out. It was very vast. Here there were only 8 rooms, all other space was occupied by three-, two- and one-row stoia (a long gallery-portico surrounding the yard from the west, south and east). Each section of the stoia was covered with a dome based on massive supporting arches over-thrown between the pillars of large section (1.3x1.3 m). Initially, there were 57 such domes, after rebuilding of caravanserai  - 77. The rooms were destined for people, dome-arched porticos served for luggage and for animals during bad weather. The main entrance, shaped by two semicircular towers, was located from the south. There were also ancillary entrances-wicket-gates in the northern and eastern walls.

Statement of authenticity and/or integrity of the individual component property

The first fragmentary references about Khurmuzfarra appear among several Muslim authors describing the history of the conquest of Khorasan by Arabs; then some geographic works and dictionaries of the X c. (Istakhri and Makdisi) and of succeeding centuries up to the XV c. (Idrisi, Samani - XII c., Yakut - XIII c., Khamdallah Kazvini - XIV c. and Hafizi Abru - XV c.) contain some information of the town. In addition to Khurmuzfarra there are found other names of this point such as Musfari, Masfara, Safari or Safri, Uly Kishman.

In 1946 the Ashgabat historian and ethnographer G.I.Karpov indentified first the medieval Khurmuzfarra with the ruins of Uly Kishman site. In the archaeological respect Uly Kishman was explored by the YuTAKE in the  1946, 1950 and the 1960-s.

Comparison of the Silk Roads component property:

A) Within the State Party:

Khurmuzfarra caravanserai is very original in architectural respect and does not resemble the Middle Eastern caravanserais of that time. This was an inn for caravans passed to Khorezm through the desert, a large trading station where enterprising merchants had often made wholesale dealings. Therefore, it has a little number of living khujras and many sheds for animals and packages. Before the XI c. the functions of caravanserais were implemented by an ordinary dwelling keshk, surrounded by with well-defended yard. Caravanserai in Khurmuzfarra shows a different lay out scheme of inn which was finally formed in Khorasan by the end of the XI c. The plan of these rectangular or square but almost

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

The Silk Roads are routes of integration, exchange and dialogue between East and West that have contributed greatly to the common prosperity of humankind for almost 2 millennia. The whole of the route is more than the sum of its constituent parts.

Flourishing in particular between the 2nd century BC and end of the 16th century AD, this network of routes, started initially from Chang'an (present-day Xi'an)and ultimately stretching from East Asia to the Mediterranean in the west, and down into the Indian subcontinent, facilitated and generated a two-way intercontinental trade in a dazzling array of trading goods. Of these, Chinese silk was among the most valuable, but it included materials such as precious metals and stones, ceramics, perfumes, ornamental woods, and spices in return for cotton and wool textiles, glass, wine, amber, carpets and the celebrated horses. This trade connected various civilizations, persisted over centuries and was sustained by a system of caravanserais, commercial settlements, trade cities and forts along its entire length of more than 10,000 km, which makes it arguably the longest cultural route in the history of humanity.

But much more than trading goods was transported over the network of Silk Roads. Buddhism, Judaism, Islam and Nestorian, Christianity, Zoroastrianism and Manichaeanism spread over the Silk Roads, Scientific and technological developments were also diffused by these routes, for example from China, paper, printing, gunpowder, cast iron, the crossbow, the magnetic compass, and porcelain, whilst engineering developments (particularly bridge building), the cultivation and working of cotton, tapestry weaving, calendrial sciences, vine cultivation, as well as certain glazing and metal working techniques spread from Central Asia, Middle East, Mediterranean and the west. There was also a substantial two-way exchange of medical knowledge and medicines, as well as of what are now seen as universal fruit and other food crops.

As such, the Silk Roads generated outstanding manifestations of global significance in the realms of economy, society, culture and the environment. The types of monuments, sites and cultural landscapes found along the Silk Roads can be categorized under:

1) Infrastructure (facilitating trade and transportation);

2) Production (of trading goods); and

3) Outcomes (such as cities, art, knowledge as a result of contact and exchange).

The property includes outstanding examples of types of heritage under these categories.

Attributes include:

• Topographical and natural features

• Urban patterns and architectural designs

• Socio-economic development

• Political events

• Religious and spiritual values

• Achievements in science and technology

• Achievements in the arts (sculpture, painting, carving, etc.)

• Intangible heritage

Under Category 1 Infrastructure, the sites among others, comprises caravanserais and inns; military posts, garrison stations and fortifications; bridges; irrigation systems; natural and cultural landmarks.

Under Category 2 Production the sites reflect mining, metal working, manufacturing and handicrafts, and other industrial and production sites.

Under Category 3 Outcomes the sites include trade cities, urban centres and settlements; religious, spiritual and ceremonial sites (including shrines, caves, tombs, sites of pilgrimage); and places of associations with political events, transfer of ideas, language, music, dance, poetry, etc.

Inscription of the Silk Roads Cultural Route property is justified under:

• criterion (ii): as the Silk Roads property exhibits preeminent interchanges of human values;

• criterion (iii): as the Silk Roads property is an outstanding example of the trade and dissemination of cultural traditions over long-distances;

• criterion (iv): as the Silk Roads property contains an outstanding example of urban, architectural and technological ensembles that was necessary to sustain this trade and exchange over almost two millennia;

• criterion (v): as the Silk Roads property bears an exceptional testimony to human interactions with the environment;

• criterion (vi): as the Silk Roads property is directly and tangibly associated with historic and living traditions, beliefs and value systems.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity


The integrity of the nominated Silk Roads Cultural Route serial property is related to the presence of all the attributes necessary to express its Outstanding Universal Value. The aim is to include in the overall property, after a number of extensions of the initial nomination, attributes that reflect fully the scope of the extensive cultural route, in particular its infrastructure, including caravansaries, forts, bridges, irrigation, agriculture and way markings, its production sites, related to the production of high value trade goods such a metal mining and metal working, and the outstanding outputs of the longdistance, profitable trade over almost two millennia, in particular cities, towns and sacred sites and their associations with the exchange of knowledge in the fields of science, technology, religion, and arts and architecture.

The boundaries of the nominated sites will adequately encompass their attributes.

The robust selection process will ensure that sites selected for nomination will not be threatened.


The authenticity of the Silk Roads Cultural Route serial property relates to the ability of the individual attributes to reflect fully their relationship to the outstanding universal value.

All the nominated sites will be well-researched and documented to demonstrate their relationship to the active period of the Silk Roads from between 2nd century BC and the end of 16th century AD and their outstanding contribution to its infrastructure, production or social and economic success.

All built remains, archaeological sites and landscapes are in good condition and where necessary are conserved or restored, or have on-going conservation programmes, using appropriate materials and methods in accordance with conservation and archaeological principles and guidelines adopted by the Coordinating Committee. There are no unacceptable reconstructions. Their links with the Silk Roads have not been compromised through inappropriate interventions since their period of activity and all sites have the ability to manifest clearly their associations.

Protection and management

All sites enjoy national protection and have adequate buffer zones. The overall management system for the extensive Silk Roads Cultural Route involves several layers, involving many authorities. The over-arching body is the intergovernmental Coordinating Committee, whose role is to set out the parameters within which nominations are put forward, and to develop guidelines, policies and monitoring mechanisms to be adopted by all participating State Parties on matters such as conservation, presentation and cultural tourism. Within each individual country, there is a national coordinating body that is responsible for coordination between sites. At local level, the management of sites varies to reflect different arrangements of ownership and of local or regional government. However all sites have an agreed management plan that sets out clearly how the attributes of the site contribute to the overall Silk Routes property, and that expresses how their interpretation and visitor management are coordinated with other sites.


Map of Turkmenistan