Detail of the arches on the outside of Sultan Sanjar's tomb, in the ancient city of Merv, Turkmenistan
Detail of the arches on the outside of Sultan Sanjar's tomb, in the ancient city of Merv, Turkmenistan. Merv is the site of several ancient cities founded over the millennia, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site archaeology park in Turkmenistan. It is the country's biggest tourist destination, as Merv was a major silk road city in its day, and according to some British archaeologists, it was the world's biggest city in the mid 12th century (and was at least the 3rd largest). It was one of the Islamic world's greatest centres of learning, with 12 libraries and countless books. It also appears to have been the furthest west point that Buddhism ever reached, with the discovery of a Buddha head statue in a complex within one of the older city walls -- quite possibly a meditation complex or monastery. The city may have been home to up to 1 million people when it was sacked by the Mongols. The city surrendered, but the invaders killed all its inhabitants, and despite the attempt to revive it during Timur's empire, the city never flourished again. Now a modern soviet town, Mary, is nearby.
- Copyright © 2012 Deidre Sorensen
- Image Size
- 3000x2000 / 2.2MB
- Contained in galleries
- Great cities of the Silk Road, Part 1