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TAP - Togolok Archaeological Project

Trench 3 and building has caption Building remains inside Trench 3

Trench 3 and building has caption Building remains inside Trench 3

International colloboration project in Turkmenistan

News vom 02.01.2024

After a long break due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the TAP – Togolok Archaeological Project, directed by Dr Barbara Cerasetti (FU Berlin; ISMEO), has finally started again activities on September 2023 at the Bronze Age settlement of Togolok 1 in collaboration with the Universität Bern, confirming the great opportunity to investigate and promote the extraordinary history and culture of Turkmenistan. The project is sponsored by the DFG ̶ Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the ISMEO – The International Association for Mediterranean and Oriental Studies, and the Society for the Exploration of Eurasia. The main partners are ISMEO, the Turkmen Ministry of Culture and the Universität Bern. Other partners and sponsors are the Freie Universität Berlin, the Max Planck Institute of Geoanthropology (Jena), the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut of Berlin, the HERCULES Laboratory (University of Évora), and the University of Salento.

Margiana of the historical times, corresponding to the alluvial fan of the Murghab River in southern Turkmenistan, has often been erroneously considered a marginal area between the Indus Valley to the east and Mesopotamia to the west. Since 1990, the Italian-Turkmen Archaeological Mission has been involved in numerous projects in the region, one of which was the creation of the archaeological map of the alluvial fan (AMMD Project), mainly concerning the study of the settlement pattern during the Bronze and Iron Ages. Over the years, the Italian-Turkmen Archaeological Mission has investigated an area covering over 20,000 square kilometres, leading to the registration of about 2000 sites dating from the Bronze Age to the Islamic period.  

Since 2014, the efforts of the mission have been concentrated on the vast Bronze Age site of Togolok 1, one of the main representative settlements of the Bronze Age Margiana. Togolok is a site-cluster composed of more than 30 sites, of which the main mound is Togolok 1. The archaeological team recovered a large amount of data on the latest occupation phases of the GKC proto-urban centre.

Preliminary results of campaign 2023

During the last campaign, three main trenches have been opened: 

  • Trench 1 attests the cultural relation of the context to the mobile pastoralist camp occupied by the last inhabitants of the settlement, previously excavated.
  • Trench 2 made it possible to analyze again the stratigraphic, structural, and ceramic sequence of the site, and to collect fresh samples for radiocarbon dating from the excavation investigated by V.I. Sarianidi in the ‘80s.
  • Trench 3 was opened with the main aim of shortly reaching a robust chronological sequence as an anchor point for the BMAC/GKC culture.

The botanical and faunal investigation testifies one more time to the mixed agro-pastoral economy practised by the local community. A first preliminary study of the metal finds ascertained the presence of a flourishing metallurgical activity, and therefore the existence of local metal workshops. Among the pottery finds, some vessels are produced in mixed techniques: the ceramic is finished on the lathe after initial processing by hand. This process still confirms the occurred integration of mobile pastoralist/sedentary cultures, which characterized the Bronze Age Margiana during the 3rd - 2nd millennia BCE. 

Now the research is carried on in the laboratories, awaiting the next campaign in the field. For more information about the project, please refer also to the project website https://togolokarchaelogicalproject.wordpress.com

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