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Nissa Fortress

Nissa FortressThis site includes the remains of Old and New Nisa.
Two outstanding monuments of Central Asian archeology - the townships of Old and New Nisa- are situated on the grounds of Bagir village about 18 km from Ashgabat. Old Nisa was an important center of the Parthian state, which existed since the III c. BC up to the III c. AD and rivaled with Rome for supremacy in the Near East.
In particular, in 53 BC the Parthians managed to bring a crushing defeat upon the Romans in the battle of Karres (a small village in Northern Mesopotamia); thousands of Roman soldiers were sent to settle in the remote Margiana, in the valley of the Murgab river.
New Nisa is older than Old Nisa. Life stopped at Old Nisa already in the III c. AD, when the Parthian state was conquered by the Pershian dynasty of Sasanids, however the New Nisa was still inhabited later, up to the XVI-XVIIc.c.
As a place for erecting the Old Nisa a natural height was chosen; ancient architects turned it into a menacing fortress, pentagonal in plan, with an area of about 14 hectares. The walls of the fortress were about 8-9 m thick near the basis, 43 rectangular towers strengthening them additionally.
The main buildings of Old Nisa are grouped into two assemblages: the Northern and the Central part, the latter being sometimes called the Southern. The treasury, a vast vine storage, different workshops and other household buildings were located in the Northern part of the fortress. The monumental temples and Throne Hall were grouped in the Central assemblage. The central place in the Southern assemblage belongs to the Square Hall/ 20 X 20 rn/.Fired brick was the material for columns and semi columns, terracotta architectural details were used for decoration of this Hall. The design of the two other big constructions of the Central assemblage, the Round Hall and the Tower, seems to be more closed. The Round Hall /17 m in diameter/ is enclosed into a legible quadrate of surrounding corridors. The massive Tower occupied the area of about 20X20 m and was 8 m high.To the north of the Square Hall a big group of various buildings and a vast yard were located, where multi column porticos were found. This part of the assemblage is likely to have been dwelled and served for household purposes. The architectural view of the Northern assemblage is quite different. The royal solemnity of Halls and temples is changed for constructions of utility character. The most important is the a Square House /60X60m/. It consisted of 12 rectangular chambers surrounding a large yard with 3 chambers alongside. In each room items of great artistic value were stored: marble statues, ivory rythons, silver and bronze vessels etc. Surrounding the main treasury were numerous other constructions, among them vast vine storage, where huge clay vessels / khums / were located. Each khum was accompanied by a document written on a clay ostrakon/ a broken piece of a jug/. Several questions are not solved yet.

Old Nisa has been declared a State Archeological Reservation.

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