Purposeful work continues within the framework of the program of in-depth study and preservation of the national historical and cultural heritage of Turkmenistan initiated by President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, the search for its still undisclosed pages bringing its worthy results. New artifacts discovered by Turkmen archaeologists during the autumn excavation season at the Abiverd monument in the Kaakhka etrap of the Ahal velayat are another confirmation of this.
Specialists of the National Directorate for Protection, Study and Restoration of Historical and Cultural Monuments of the Ministry of Culture of Turkmenistan conducted archaeological surveys at the famous medieval settlement, which made it possible to collect interesting materials testifying to the development of material culture and, in particular, industry in the medieval cities of our country.
So, a workshop for the production of mercury was discovered in the Abiverd fortress. At the site, called by scientists “handicraft complex”, the remains of six round furnaces were found, designed to obtain metal by smelting iron ore. Thanks to archaeological finds, researchers have established that a pottery workshop was also located here, where original ceramic dishes, called “a jug for storing mercury” in special literature, were produced.
The hypothesis that mercury was stored in such a vessel, single samples of which are found in some regions of Central Asia, was first put forward in the middle of the last century by the famous archaeologist, academician Mikhail Masson.
At the site of the craft complex of the Abiverd fortress, more than 300 fragments were found that survived and were damaged during the firing of ceramic vessels for storing mercury. In addition, the remains of a forge (furnace) for burning them were also found. According to scientists, these forges consisted of two levels - the lower hearth, where the fire burned, and the upper one, where the vessels being burned were placed. At the same time, the furnace was located underground and was round-shaped. The height of the underground oven was about half a meter, and the diameter was 90 centimeters. The intense flames turned the soil around this object to a crimson hue.
Abiverd was one of the significant cities of North Khorasan, repeatedly mentioned in written sources as “... a city with fertile land and rich harvests, famous for its magnificent bazaar and mosque.” Today the settlement is a rectangular fortress with an area of 105 hectares, fortified by defensive towers. This historical and architectural monument on the territory of the Abiverd State Historical and Cultural Reserve in the Kaakhka etrap can tell a lot about the life of the population of the medieval fortress.
The research carried out here has revealed many interesting finds. When examining the ruins of Abiverd, it was established that there were craft quarters in the southeastern and northwestern parts of the city. In the central part of the city, not far from the citadel, various metal articles were found, testifying to the existence of workshops of coppersmiths and jewelers. The variety of ceramics indicates a high level of development of pottery in Abiverd and that the city was one of the important trades and craft centers of North Khorasan. In addition, archaeologists have discovered the location of a medieval mosque, identical to the mosque in Dandanakan, as well as fragments of its decor.
The current archaeological season at the Abiverd Fortress has added to the number of interesting finds. The discovered artifacts confirm that in southern Turkmenistan, or rather in the foothill zone of the Ahal velayat, the production of mercury, which is widely used in jewelry and medicine, was established in the Middle Ages.
Thanks to the systematic work carried out on the initiative and under the leadership of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov to study the monuments of history and culture, and targeted measures implemented in our country to further develop the legal framework for state protection of unique cultural heritage in all velayats, the state of hundreds of archaeological and architectural monuments is being studied and monitored, drawing great interest from domestic and foreign researchers to these an invaluable asset of world culture.
In accordance with the “2018-2021 State program for carrying out archaeological excavations at historical and cultural monuments located on the territory of Turkmenistan along the Great Silk Road, studying cultural heritage on a scientific basis and promoting it” over the past four years, specialists of the National Department for the Protection, Study and restoration of historical and cultural monuments, together with researchers of the Institute of History and Archeology of the Academy of Sciences of Turkmenistan, conducted large-scale scientific research, excavations and strengthening and restoration work on historical and cultural monuments. Interesting and important information was collected, shedding light on the history of the country and the life of our ancestors. In particular, thanks to these works, the scientific community presented reliable information confirming the fact that in medieval Turkmen cities, along with the development of science and culture, handicraft production and trade relations also reached great heights, our ancestors created perfect social security systems, formed an independent Turkmen school of architecture.
Discovered valuable finds after scientific research and appropriate restoration work are solemnly transferred to the state museums of the country.
No doubt that, in the near future, new finds of medieval Abiverd will also take their rightful place in museum expositions.