21.08.2016 - UNESCO Office in Tehran

UNESCO Representative visits ancient city of Merv

During a one-week mission to Turkmenistan, the Director of UNESCO’s Cluster Office in Tehran and UNESCO Representative to Iran and Turkmenistan, Ms. Esther Kuisch Laroche, visited the ancient city of Merv, which was registered on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1999.

Merv is the oldest and best preserved of the oasis-cities along the Silk Route in Central Asia. The remains in this vast oasis span 4,000 years of human history and are located in the territory of Mary velayat of Turkmenistan.

The site has supported a series of urban centres since the 3rd millennium BC and played an important role in the history of the East partly due to the exceptional variety of cultures, which existed within the Murgab river oasis. It became a capital of the Arabic Caliphate at the beginning of 9th century and a capital of the Great Seljuks Empire during the 11th and 12th centuries.

Today “Ancient Merv” is a large archaeological park, which includes remains of Bronze Age centres (2500-1200 BC) such as Kelleli, Adji Kui, Taip, Gonur, and Togoluk; Iron Age centres (1200-300 BC) such as Yaz/Gobekli Depes and Takhirbaj Depe; the historic urban centre and the post-medieval city, Abdullah Khan Kala.  The inscribed property covers the area of 353 ha with a buffer zone of 883 ha.

A number of monuments are still visible, particularly from the last two millennia.

The UNESCO Representative toured the different monuments at the site and also received an explanation of the complex historic hydraulic structures and irrigation systems that existed in ancient Merv.

Merv was registered on UNESCO’s World Heritage List due to its Outstanding Universal Value, as the cities of the Merv oasis have exerted considerable influence over the cultures of Central Asia and Iran for four millennia. The Seljuk city in particular influenced architecture and architectural decoration and scientific and cultural development. Also, the sequence of the cities of the Merv oasis, their fortifications, and their urban layouts bear exceptional testimony to the civilizations of Central Asia over several millennia.

The State Historical and Cultural Park “Ancient Merv” was created by decree in 1987 and has additional protection at the national level granted by the provisions of the 1992 Law on the Protection of Turkmenistan Historical and Cultural Monuments.

The Park is the property of the Republic of Turkmenistan and all its components are included in the National Heritage List, which implies that any proposed action to be taken inside or outside of boundaries of the World Heritage property that may have a significant impact on the heritage values is prohibited without the approval of the authorized government body.

A protection agreement, which secures an inviolability of monuments and maintenance of conditions of economic activities and new constructions within boundaries of the buffer zone has been concluded between administration of the Park and local authorities. Archaeological excavations, within the Park require official permits from the Ministry of Culture.

The Management Plan of the State Historical and Cultural Park “Ancient Merv”, which is currently in place, takes into account a wide range of measures under planning and heritage legislation and policies of the Turkmenistan Government. The Management Plan provides the policy framework for the conservation and management of the “Ancient Merv” and it is scheduled to be updated every 6 years.

Currently, a number of restoration and conservation works are ongoing at several of the monuments within the site.

After the tour of ancient Merv, Ms. Kuisch Laroche, also visited the Local History Museum and the Regional Library and state-of-the-art Observatory in Mary.

For more detailed information about ancient Merv, please see: http://whc.unesco.org/uploads/nominations/886.pdf

For more information about all UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Turkmenistan as well as properties submitted on the Tentative List, please click here: http://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/tm


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