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New discoveries at deserted medieval town of Dzhankent



An international team of Kazakh, Russian, and German archaeologists, have made significant new discoveries at the deserted medieval town of Dzhankent.

Dzhankent, also known as Jankent, is located on the left bank of the lower Syr Darya, near the former eastern shore of the Aral Sea, Kazakhstan. Written sources identify the site as the 10th century capital of the Oghuz Turks, known at the time as Yengi-kent (meaning “New Town”).

The Oghuz Turks were a group of Turkic people who spoke the Oghuz dialect within the Turkic language family. They emerged in the 8th century AD, establishing a tribal confederation known as the Oghuz Yabgu State in Central Asia.

The ruins of Dzhankent encompass an area of 16 hectares (40 acres) encircled by a rectangular wall circuit up to 7 metres (23 ft) in height. The town was situated on the crossroads of two continental trade corridors: the Northern Silk Road running east-west from China to Byzantium, and the north-south route from the Baltic to Central Asia.

The town was rediscovered by Russian army topographers in the early 19th century, with systematic excavations conducted mainly by the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences (IEA RAN, Moscow), Korkyt Ata State University of Kyzylorda (Kazakhstan), the University of Tübingen (Germany); and the Margulan Institute of Archaeology, Kazakh Ministry of Education and Science (MON).

Image credit: Heinrich Härke

Recent studies now indicate that Dzhankent was founded as early as the 6th century AD and was rebuilt by Khorezmian architects from the Amu-darya (Oxus) river oasis in the late 9th century AD.

Excavations at the site have uncovered the first example of a domesticated cat found on the Northern Silk Road, and a deposit of chicken eggs inscribed with Arabic lettering in a 10th century AD ceramic vessel.

Image credit: Viktoria Gerassimova

Archaeologists also found a palm-sized ceramic figurine or pendant of a bear, reminiscent of late Iron Age objects in southern Siberia, and a sherd from a large ceramic vessel inscribed with letters that spell the word “Allah”.

Prof. Dr. Heinrich Härke, from the University of Tübingen, said: “According to written sources, Islam reached the area in the 10th century AD, so the discovery is now the earliest reference to Islam in the Aral Sea region.”

Written by: Heinrich Härke, Irina Arzhantseva, and Azilkhan Tazhekeev

Header Image Credit : Martin Goffriller

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Excavation uncovers traces of the first bishop’s palace at Merseburg Cathedral Hill




Archaeologists from the State Office for Monument Preservation and Archaeology (LDA) Saxony-Anhalt have uncovered traces of the first bishop’s palace at the southern end of the Merseburg Cathedral Hill in Merseburg, Germany.

Construction of the early Romanesque Merseburg Cathedral was begun by Bishop Thietmar of Merseburg in 1015.

It was consecrated in 1021 in the presence of Emperor Heinrich II (Henry II), however, following a series of collapses in the eastern part of the structure, the cathedral wouldn’t be formally consecrated and opened until 1042 by Bishop Hunold.

The Merseburg Cathedral of St. John and St. Lawrence is today considered one of the most important cathedral buildings in Germany.

The LDA team were excavating the basement of the so-called Martinikurie, a two-story residential building from the Baroque period. Excavations revealed the remains of the first bishop’s palace, dating from from the time of the second consecration of Merseburg Cathedral.

According to the LDA: “We found the almost completely preserved basement-like lower floor of a hall building, whose 1.75 metre thick foundation walls are still preserved up to a height of 3.40 metres. Steps in the masonry and a pillar from the time of construction inside the building prove that at least one hall-like upper floor once stood on top of this.”
The palace was constructed by Bishop Hunold, who headed the diocese of Merseburg between 1036 and 1050.

“This finding makes it possible to locate one of the most important buildings of the episcopal see in Merseburg – a building that, with its location and size, clearly expresses the self-confidence of the diocese, which was re-founded in 1004 by King Henry II of Germany” added the LDA.

Header Image Credit : LDA

Sources : State Office for Monument Preservation and Archaeology (LDA)

This content was originally published on – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeologists find ancient papyri with correspondence made by Roman centurions




Archaeologists from the University of Wrocław have uncovered ancient papyri that contains the correspondence of Roman centurions who were stationed in Egypt.

The papyri were discovered in Berenice Troglodytica, an ancient seaport of Egypt on the western shore of the Red Sea. The city was founded by Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285–246 BC), who named it after his mother, Berenice I of Egypt.

During the Roman period, Berenice Troglodytica was one of the main waystations for the trade in war elephants and exotic goods, imported from India, Sri Lanka, Arabia, and Upper Egypt.

Excavations of an animal cemetery located on the western outskirts of the city have uncovered an accumulation of ceramics originating from the Mediterranean, Africa and India.

Image Credit : Instytut Archeologii Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego

Among the accumulation, the team found Roman coins, a fibula, ostracons (fragments of texts on ceramics), and several papyri.

The papyri contains the correspondence of centurions, naming Haosus, Lucinius and Petronius. Centurions were soldiers who were promoted to command a centuria or “century”, a military unit consisting of between 80 to 100 men.

“In the correspondence, Petronius asks Lucinius (stationed in Berenice Troglodytica) about the prices of individual exclusive goods. There is also the statement: “I am giving you the money, I am sending it by dromedarius (a unit of legionnaires moving on dromedaries). Take care of them, provide them with veal and poles for their tents.”

Dr. Marta Osypińska from the Institute of Archaeology of the University of Wrocław, said: “For Egyptologists and other scientists dealing with antiquity, this is an extremely rare and high-calibre discovery.”

“In this part of the world, there are very few sites from the Roman period. The Egyptians tend to leave little historical accounts from this time in history, because it is the moment when they were conquered.” added  Dr. Osypińska.

Header Image Credit : Instytut Archeologii Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego

Sources : PAP

This content was originally published on – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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