Sultan Palace Merv

What is the Gonur_Depe site in Margiana?

After the excavations in Bactria, the Greek- Russian archeologist Prof. Viktor Sarianidi started to search Margiana on the left side of Amu darya river. In 1950, he found it in Karakum desert. Only in 1970, he started the excavations at Gonur_Depe. It became the largest known of all settlements in the former delta of Murghab river, around 60 km to the north from present day Mary town. As the result of archeological works, it is known as a capital of Margush country. The local civilization of oases in the Pre-Zoroastrian period. The excavations revealed the area of Gonur around 55 hectares, covering the timespan between 2400 – 1600 B.C and include different occupational phases.

The site consists of three main distinct fields:

  • Gonur North– a main, roughly elliptical, fortified complex, around 330 X 460 m, with Monumental Palace and its subsidiary buildings, Temple of Fire, Temple of Water, Temple of Sacrifices and the ritual areas

    Inside, an area known as the Royal Necropolis

    Around, two major and several smaller water reservoirs, all dated around 2400-1900 B.C

    Most of the ivory objects found at Gonur Depe came from funerary structures that can be dated to the last occupational phase of this area, which according to material culture are considered contemporaneous to the upper levels of Altyn Depe (Turkmenistan) and of Mohenjo-Daro (Pakistan).

  • Gonur South – a smaller, square complex around 130 X 120 m, fortified with two series of massive concentric walls with round towers along their perimeters. This complex may have dates around 1900-1600 B.C

  • A large necropolis, with more than three thousand graves of different type and dating, filling in an area of around 10 hectares, some 200 m west of Gonur North.