Gonur-Tepe, Turkmenistan

Not long ago, during the 90s, archaeologists found an immense necropolis from 3-2 millennia B.C. in the deserts of the Eastern Karakum desert. At Mary’s oasis. Once upon a time, there was a capital city called Gonur Tepe (translated as “Grey hill” from Turksmen) with a palace and several temples that could contend with Assyrian and Babylonian constructions.

Excavations in this location lead to incredible findings by scientists and archaeologists. For several thousand years the temple city held its secrets in the sands of the desert. In the whole of Margiana, Gonur Tepe was the main settlement. It was on the right bank of the Murgab Riverbed on a slight slope. Excavations continue so far, and archaeologists are ignorant of the scale of the region. The preliminary data reveals the size from 30 to 50 hectares (1 hectare = 10 000 sq m) in the area of the Old Town. This supposed “capital” had not a dictator with definite commanders, rulers of the whole world, but a spiritual leader – a priest.

Architecture of Gonur Tepe

The capital city of the Margush Nation is Gonur Tepe. Archeologists have been able to find compelling evidence about sacred practices and customs that prove the faith of Gonurians in Zoroastria.

There was a castle in the middle of town with many spacious rooms and strong, thick walls with some simple towers. There most certainly was the chief priest. The temple buildings were attached to one wall from all four sides around the palace. The wall was fortified with square towers at the corners, though not as high as the palace’s exterior wall.

There was a swimming pool on the southern side, 180x80m tall and 2m deep around the walls. There were two more baths, but smaller in number, from the northern and western sections of the temple complex. They were all surrounded by a medium and very narrow wall, fixed with inner pilasters. Scientists presume that this wall had been erected symbolically, not for defensive reasons, as a restraint to the other world’s Holy Room.

Figures of the facades of the buildings were found by the archeologists to attest to the use of stone mosaic for decorating the walls. The Gonur masters’ technique is unique: at first it was photographed in paints on the wall and later it was rendered in stones. Related mosaic processing systems have not yet been discovered worldwide. A whole series of potteries has been found in Gonur Tepe, which indicate the strong demand for steel goods.

Finds in Gonur Tepe

The underwater burial grounds in the eastern portion of the broad pool were one of the most important finds. Everything showed that it was the funeral of the local elites of that time. Archaeologists dug a total of 5 graves, each of which looked like a multi-room home. Two of the graves contained many people’s burials. Corpses belonged most likely to such slaves, who were expected to follow their master to the other world according to ancient traditions. According to traditions, the graveyard was often full of valuables that once belonged to the dead.

In the times when the city was occupied underground vaults had already been looted. However, several silver and golden ships and bits of jewelry have been discovered for the archeologists. Besides the gems, archaeologists found in the tombs more fragments of mosaics. The shrines are meant to be painted, but over time they have been destroyed. The tombs were once full of offerings to the ghosts of the other side. There were huge instances.A base pit, 2.5 meters deep and 5 meters in diameter, was located not far from the tomb along with the burial.

In the middle of the base pit was a chariot, which was clearly thrown away. If we trust the stories of that time, the carriage was required to move the dead to the other world. Seven humans, seven puppies, two donkeys and two camels were dead next to the chariot.

No 7 was selected as a special sacrifice, which was corresponding to the seven dead people and seven puppies. Two modern Turkmen and ancient Zoroastrians saw the number 7 as holy. Old Gonurians’ descendants also have an unusual mentality towards dogs – at the same time they are revered and hated.

Archeologists found a bronze light, two stone sticks with silver arches on the ends, a scoop, three bronze objects, a single ship, nearly 1 meter long, composed of seven cisterns in the form of a ball and a huge round-bottom ship.

In addition to the large foundations, smaller burials were discovered as well as some strange artifacts, which scientists could not describe explicitly. They found, for example, in one of the tombs, few stones made into smooth and even boules beside the ceramic bowls. What the papers were made for and what role they played is still unclear.

For archaeologists, archeologists and scientists, Gonur Tepe’s necropolis also has many mysteries. This place is one of Turkmenistan’s most popular tourism destinations, visited every year by thousands of visitors. Experience this stunning and enigmatic sight to touch the mysteries of Turkmen’s prehistoric sculptors, architects and cheerful figures from past centuries.