Chair of Near Eastern Archeology

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Tilla Bulak/Uzbekistan

In the Bronze and Iron Age there used to be one of the most characteristic cultural crossroads of the Ancient World in the area of the Central Asian states: between the inhabitants of the Eurasian steppe areas with their rather pastoral way of life in the North and the representatives of Ancient Near Eastern Cultures in the South (Namazga V/VI-groups).

In the early 2nd millennium B.C. the two anthropospheres converged at least geographically. The massive process of formation of settlements in the oases north of the Amudarja river by settlers from Northern Afghanistan or Eastern Turkmenistan entailed the development of a new local variation of the Southern-Central Asian Namazga Cultures: the Sapalli Culture.

The find spot Tilla-Bulak (‚source of gold’) is situated in the border triangle Uzbekistan - Turkmenistan - Afghanistan, the Ancient Baktria, at O 66°48’/ N 37°42’ in an altitude of 850m above sea level. The settlement measures about 4 ha and dates back to the early phase of this Late Bronze Age Sapalli Culture, in absolute dates about to the 20th/19th century B.C.

The objective of the common exploration of this area by the Institute of Near Eastern Archchaeology of the  Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, the Tocharistan expedition of the National Institute of Fine Arts in Taschkent and the University of Termez is to understand the way of life of the new settlers - especially the organisation of their settlement - and to possibly gain information on their exact origin.

Thanks to a promotion within the framework of the Central Asia Programme by the Gerda Henkel Foundation, we were able to conduct excavations on site from 2007-2010, in the course of which almost 40% of the settlement area was archaeologically examined. The settlement was built in two main phases, the older one of which was destroyed in a fire catastrophe. Above all from these two contexts we were able to recover good inventory, which will allow detailled answers to the above-mentioned questions.

After the termination of this project phase, we are currently reworking our current finds. An important element of the evaluation is the integration of natural scientific disciplines. There exist corresponding cooperations for the examination of the wood finds, the palaeobotanic and archaeo-zoological remains as well as of ceramic production.

Staff: K. Kaniuth; M. Gruber; B. Ögüt