to its size and historical value, the Ancient Merv is
the one of the most important sites. It is situated in
the lower reaches of the Murgab river. The historians
of the past rewarded the Ancient Merv with magnificent
epithets like "The Stronghold of the World",
"The Dome of Islam", "The Spirits of Kings".
Its upsurge took place in XI-XII centuries, at the time
of the Great Seldjuks. The Seldjuk's Empire stretched
from the Lower Amu-Darya to the Mediterranean sea. Under
Seldjuks Merv occupied 640 hectares and was one of the
most developed cities of its time. It attracted scientists
and merchants from the Moslem world. In 1221 all settlements
of Middle Asia were devastated by Mongolian hordes, and
Merv was not an exception.
Ancient Mary is a series of towns that succeeded one another
throughout the course of history: Erk Kala fortress citadel,
Gyaur Kala, Sultan Kala, Abdullakhan Kala and Bayramalykhan
The oldest levels of civilization in Merv belong to Erk
Kala fortress 6th c. BC, the time when this oasis was
included into the Persian Akhamenid state. The town occupied
an area of about 20 square hectares and it was surrounded
by strong walls made of brick. The height of the fortress
was 25 m.
the fourth century BC Merv was conquered by Alexander
the Great. At the end of the 4th c.BC Merv was included
into the kingdom of Selevkids and the city of Antiochia
was founded. The remains of Antiochia's walls were discovered
about 30 km to the north of Ancient Merv. It also known
under the name of Gyaur Kala. The fortress has a regular
plan and perfectly aligned walls. Between the end of the
IV and the beginning of the V c.c. the so-called "oval
house" was erected in the north- eastern corner of
Gyaur -Kala. It was a cloister of the local Christian
community. In the second half of the 3d c. at the vast
portion of the south - eastern corner of Gyaur Kala appeared
a Buddhist worship complex, with a stupa (reliquary).
After multiple reconstruction's the stupa had almost square
platform (13X13X3), upon which the cylindrical stupa's
body lowered with a large clay statue of Buddha standing
before it. The mosque of Yusuf Khamadani /16 c./ is situated
near Sultan Kala. Sheikh Abu Yakup Usuf lbn Hamadani lived
in Merv (1048-1140) He belonged to a very popular Nakshbendi's
school of suphism.
and Small Kiz-Kala (VI-VIIc.c. AD) is located to the west
from Gaur-Kala. Large Kiz-Kala presents 42X37,2 m rectangular
in plan. In the basis of architectural plan composition
of this keshk there is a square inner yard (or possibly
hall) surrounded by rooms situated in two levels. All
its facades are shaped with semi-circle tower gofferings.
This style was widely spread in architecture of Pre-Arabian
times. That is the way of forming facades of near by Small
Kiz-Kala. There is the same central (may be domed) room
and the same rectan-gular but more regular rooms around
Abdullah-khan Kala: The walls of post-medieval
Merv, known today as Abdullah-Khan Kala. Abdullah-Khan
Kala is the smallest of the three cities, occupying only
some 44 hectares. It was founded in 1409 by the Timurid
rules Shakhruh and is located 3 km to the south of Sultan
Kala. Like all the cities it was founded on a virgin site.
The walls are rectangular in shape with large circular
towers and some 44 additional towers. There was a large
mosque and madrasa in the north part of the city. Like
most of the cities of Merv and elsewhere, Abdullah Khan
Kala had a citadel. The ruler's palace was sited in the
citadel, together with a caravanserai and storerooms.
The Mausoleum of Sultan Sanjar: a magnificent architectural
structure about which contemporaries wrote that its blue
dome could be seen "a day ride away", was built
in the middle of 12 century. It is an enormous 27X27 m
cube which is crowned by a dome of 17,28 m in diameter.