The Urban Landscapes of Ancient Merv, Turkmenistan

Tim Williams, Sjoerd van der Linde, 2008

Data copyright © Dr Tim Williams unless otherwise stated

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Dr Tim Williams
Institute of Archaeology
University College London
Gower Street

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Tim Williams, Sjoerd van der Linde (2008) The Urban Landscapes of Ancient Merv, Turkmenistan [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor]

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This dataset has been developed as part of the LEAP Project, The urban landscapes of Ancient Merv, Turkmenistan: Where to draw the line?, an integrated electronic publications and archive, for publication in Internet Archaeology, with digital archiving by ADS. The LEAP Project is a two year project by the ADS and Internet Archaeology that investigates novel ways in which electronic publication over the Internet can provide broad access to research findings in the arts and humanities, and can also make underlying data available in such a way so that readers are enabled to "drill down" seamlessly into online archives to test interpretations and develop their own conclusions. The LEAP Project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) under the ICT Strategy Programme.

This archive contains an interactive map based on the projects GIS data which can be investigated via the Web. Additionally, this dataset consists of several downloadable elements:


There are a total of 1,977 photographs in this archive, some of which are scans of earlier photographs. They can be filtered by type of monument, place, or category to make searching easier.


These consist of jpg files that show the location of Merv and its monuments, and maps showing the specific study areas in Merv that are the subject areas for the LEAP project. There is also a map of the Silk Roads, which has been used as well in the Ancient Merv Teacher's Handbook.

Rotating Images

Five rotating pictures were created. They were made by a series of pictures shot with a digital camera CANON EOS 350 D on a tripod in Merv in September 2006. These pictures were then progressed in the programme "The Panorama Factory v4", and exported as .mov files. An overview of the locations of where the rotating images were taken is also provided.

Slide Show Narrative

Two slideshows were developed, one for the Kyz Kala and one for the Kyz Bibi. These slideshows were made by merging pictures and sound in the programme Studio 9. The audio files, pictures and script text are separately available. The audio files were created with the software programme Audacity 1.2 and exported as mp3 files and wav files. Copyright of the images and audio files are those of Ancient Merv Project.

GIS Files

The individual shapefiles and rasters related to this archive are available for download. Metadata can be found the in the 'GIS Layers' document in the download section.


Two reports are included, Acquisition, registration and application of IKONOS space imagery for the World Heritage Site at Merv, Turkmenistan and Training courses at the old Silk Road city of Merv, Turkmenistan which was in Archaeology International 2005/2006.

Teaching Resources

The teachers handbook files were developed in 2005 by the Ancient Merv Project and written by Mike Corbishley. The teachers handbook has been published with 10,000 copies in 2005, and is distributed in Turkmenistan during the course of the Ancient Merv Project. The Teacher's Handbook is available in Turkmen (unavailable through the ADS) and English. The book has been written and designed in Microsoft Word, and exported as Acrobat pdf files. Also available are a series of resource sheets and activity sheets. These sheets are to be used by teachers and can be copied and made available to children. The sheets are available in Turkmen (unavailable through the ADS) and English. The sheets have been written by Mike Corbishley and designed in Microsoft Word by Sjoerd van der Linde, and exported as Acrobat pdf files. Copyright of the images in the Teacher's Handbook are those of Ancient Merv Project unless otherwise stated within the Teacher's Handbook itself.

Merv Movie

Movies in Mpeg format about the Ancient Merv Project have been made during the field-season at Merv in Turkmenistan in September 2006 by Sjoerd van der Linde. They have been shot with a SONY digital camera and also contain jpg pictures of the Ancient Merv Project. The movie has been developed and rendered in a programme called Studio 9, and exported as Mpeg4.

Oral Interviews

Oral interviews were undertaken as part of the LEAP project to get an understanding of the range of values and interpretation of the study areas.

There are a range of questions for two locations: the suburban study area of Sultan Kala and the urban study area of Sultan Kala. The answers are available as mp3 files. The interviews were undertaken during the field-season at Merv in Turkmenistan in the September 2006 by Sjoerd van der Linde and Gaigysyz Joraev. The interviews were conducted with a digital voice recorder, the OLYMPUS VN-120. The audio files were downloaded on a laptop computer and reworked in the software programme Audacity 1.2. Note that the audiofiles for Perman Dowrangeldiew were undertaken in Turkmen, and have been re-recorded in English in London, March 2007 by Sjoerd van der Linde. The location where the interviews were held can be seen in the respective rotating imagery of Sultan Kala Urban and Sultan Kala Suburban.

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