Stark, Sören, Fiona J. Kidd, Jamal K. Mirzaakhmedov, Shujing Wang, Robert N. Spengler III, Siroj J. Mirzaakhmedov, Zachary Silvia, Silvia Pozzi, Husniddin Rakhmonov, Megan Sligar, and Munira Sultanova (2020) The Uzbek-American Expedition in Bukhara. Preliminary Report on the Third Season (2017). Iran. Online First.
Excavations at the site of Bashtepa, at the western interface of the Bukhara oasis and the Kyzyl-kum desert, and at the kurgan sites at Kuyu-Mazar and Lyavandak on the eastern and northeastern fringes of the oasis, are detailed here, enriching our understanding of agro-pastoralism in Antiquity. At Bashtepa, results indicate a shifting site function, from a border fortress, over a phase during which a monumental though still poorly understood platform dominated the northern part of the site, to a final phase when the site evolved into a small rural settlement characterized by pit houses. Preliminary archaeo-botanical and paleo-zoological studies demonstrate an engagement with grain farming, but also with animal husbandry, as well as hunting and fishing. Ceramics indicate contacts with the surrounding oases. Excavations at the kurgan provide new data on burial architecture and funerary customs, including a collective burial with khums being used as containers for human bones. Results challenge the chronology of previously excavated comparable kurgans in the area, suggesting an earlier date. The analysis of ceramics from the kurgan burials underlines the need to rework the dating of the ceramic typology for the Bukhara oasis, especially for the period between the 3rd century BCE and the 3rd century CE.