Antiquities of Trans-Caspian region: The Ruins of Ancient Merv

Жуковскій, B.A. Древности Закаспійскаго Края: Развалины Стараго Мерва.
Санкт-Петербург: Тип. Главнаго Управленія Удѣловъ, 1894, 216c.


Zhukovski, V.A. Drevnosti Zakaspiyskago Kraia. Razvaliny Starago
. St. Petersburg: Tip. Glav. Upravlenia Udielov, 1894, 216pp.




Antiquities of Trans-Caspian region: The
Ruins of Ancient Merv


Древности Закаспійскаго Края: Развалины
Стараго Мерва


Drevnosti Zakaspiyskago Kraia is
the culmination of V. A. Zhukovski’s visit to Merv in the summer of 1890. He
was sent by the Imperial Archaeological Commission of Russia to make detailed
investigations and plans and to take photographs of the site.


The two halves
of the book describe the historical sources on Merv, and the ruins of the
Ancient City respectively. Zhukovski largely approaches the history of Merv
through reflection on the writings of medieval Muslim travellers and authors.
He also reviews all known sources on Merv at the time of writing, starting from
the earliest mention of the city, to nineteenth century descriptions. Following
this historical outline are detailed descriptions of the monuments and the
surrounding landscape.


The book has
thirty-nine rare images, thirty-four of which depict the monuments of Merv
themselves providing a unique snapshot of the condition of the monuments at the
close of the nineteenth century. Two maps of the city and its suburbs accompany
the text, as well as diagrams, and tables of medieval trade routes that were
critical in the city’s development. To this, Zhukovski adds accounts of local
life and legends about the monuments, taking the role of ethnographer. He also
provides a summary of his ten-day archaeological excavation, although,
unsurprisingly for its time, it is something of an account of artefact-seeking
rather than systematic archaeological recording.


The book is
written in nineteenth century academic Russian, thus the words and sentence
structures are challenging. Nevertheless, this publication had great impact on
subsequent authors’ works on Merv, and on the other medieval Muslim cities of
Central Asia. It is an exceptionally valuable book for archaeologists and
historians of Central Asia, and remains the authority for researchers
investigating the cities of Ancient Merv.




Jorayev, Gaigysyz. '"English abstract of 'Antiquities of Trans-Caspian region: The Ruins of Ancient Merv'". Translated by Gaigysyz Jorayev. In Cities as Built and Lived Environments: Scholarship from Muslim Contexts, 1875 to 2011, by Aptin Khanbaghi. 37. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014.
Muslim Civilisations Abstracts - The Aga Khan University
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