Bronze and Iron Age urbanization in Turkmenistan: Preliminary results from the excavation of Togolok 1 on the Murghab alluvial fan

Abstract

Cerasetti, Barbara, Roberto Arciero, Marialetizia Carra, Antonio Curci, Jacopo De Grossi Mazzorin, Luca Forni, Elise Luneau, Lynne M. Rouse, and Robert N. Spengler III (2019) Bronze and Iron Age urbanization in Turkmenistan: Preliminary results from the excavation of Togolok 1 on the Murghab alluvial fan. In: Christoph Baumer and Mirko Novak (Eds.) Urban Cultures of Central Asia from the Bronze Age to the Karakhanids: Learnings and conclusions from new archaeological investigations and discoveries. Proceedings of the First International Congress on Central Asian Archaeology held at the University of Bern, 4-6 February 2016. pp. 63-72 Harressowitz Verdog: Bern, Switzerland.

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Despite the hostile climate, since the Bronze Age the populations of Southern Turkmenistan have been able to create, through an impressive network of canals, an artificial agricultural territory with villages and large towns. Between 2400 and 1950 BCE, the Murghab alluvial fan was characterised by the presence of complex urban societies. This period was followed by a deep crisis that led to the disappearance of the largest sites. At the beginning of the Iron Age (1300 BCE), the water flow in the Murghab River decreased, resulting in a southward movement of settlements and the abandonment of a large portion of the territory by sedentary farmers. At the same time, new groups of mobile pastoralists began to settle in the area and started to interact with farmers. The excavations of Togolok 1 are providing vital data on the integration between sedentary and mobile pastoralist cultures, as well as on the birth and evolution of urbanism during the later Iron Age.