MERV- The silk road-TURKMENISTAN

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MERV - The Silk Road-TURKMENISTAN

MERV - The Silk RoadTURKMENISTAN

ANCIENT MERVThe Silk RoadTURKMENISTAN

Merv(Turkmen:Merw, fromPersian: ,Marv, sometimes transliteratedMarworMary; cf.Chinese:,Mulu), formerlyAchaemenidSatrapyofMargiana, and laterAlexandriaandAntiochia in Margiana(Greek: ), was a majoroasis-cityinCentral Asia, on the historicalSilk Road, located near today'sMaryinTurkmenistan. Several cities have existed on this site, which is significant for the interchange of culture and politics at a site of major strategic value. It is claimed that Merv was brieflythe largest city in the worldin the 12th century.The site of ancient Merv has been listed byUNESCOas aWorld Heritage Site.(en.wikipedia.org)

HISTORYMerv's origins are prehistoric: archaeological surveys have revealed many survivals of village life as far back as the 3rd millennium BC. Under the name of Mouru, Merv is mentioned withBakhdi(Balkh) in the geography of theZend-Avesta(commentaries on theAvesta). Under theAchaemenid dynastyMerv is mentioned as being a place of some importance: under the name of Margu it occurs as part of one of thesatrapiesin theBehistun inscriptions(ca515 BC) of thePersianmonarchDarius Hystaspis. The ancient city appears to have been re-founded byCyrus the Great(559 - 530 BC), but theAchaemenidlevels are deeply covered by later strata at the site. (See alsoBactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex.)Alexander the Great's visit to Merv is merely legendary, but the city was named Alexandria for a time. After Alexander's death, Merv became the chief city of theprovince of Margianaof theSeleucid,ParthianandSassanidstates. Merv was re-namedAntiochia Margiana, by theSeleucidrulerAntiochus Soter, who rebuilt and expanded the city at the site presently known asGyaur Gala(Turkish Gayur Kala) (Fortress).After theSassanidArdashir I(220-240 AD) took Merv, the study ofnumismaticspicks up the thread: a long unbroken direct Sassanian rule of four centuries is documented from the unbroken series of coins originally minted at Merv. During this period Merv was home to practitioners of a wide range of different religions beside the officialZoroastrianismof the Sassanids, including manyBuddhists,Manichaeans, andEast SyrianChristians. Between the 6th (553) and 11th centuries AD, Merv was the seat of anEast Syrianmetropolitan province. (en.wikipedia.org)

GEOGRAPHYThe oasis of Merv is situated on theMurghab Riverthat flows down fromAfghanistan, on the southern edge of theKarakum Desert, at 3730N and 62E, about 230 miles (370km) north ofHerat, and 280 miles (450km) south ofKhiva. Its area is about 1,900 square miles (4,900km2). The great chain of mountains which, under the names ofParopamisadeandHindu Kush, extends from theCaspian Seato thePamir Mountainsis interrupted some 180 miles (290km) south of Merv. Through or near this gap flow northwards in parallel courses theTejenand Murgab rivers, until they lose themselves in the Karakum Desert. Thus they make Merv a sort of watch tower over the entrance into Afghanistan on the north-west and at the same time create a stepping-stone ortapebetween north-eastPersiaand the states ofBokharaandSamarkand.Merv is advantageously situated in the inland delta of the Murghab River, which flows from its source in the Hindu Kush northwards through the Garagum desert. The Murghab delta region, known to the Greeks asMargiana, gives Merv two distinct advantages: first, it provides an easy southeast-northwest route from the Afghan highlands towards the lowlands of Karakum, theAmu Daryavalley andKhwarezm. Second, the Murgab delta, being a large well-watered zone in the midst of the dry Karakum, serves as a natural stopping-point for the routes from northwest Iran towardsTransoxiana theSilk Roads. The delta, and thus Merv, lies at the junction of these two important routes: the northwest-southeast route toHeratandBalkh(and thus to theIndusand beyond) and the southwest-northeast route fromTusandNishapurto Bukhara and Samarkand. (en.wikipedia.org)

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