Margiana of the historical times, corresponding to the alluvial fan of the Murghab River in southern Turkmenistan, has often been erroneously considered a marginal area between the Indus Valley to the east and Mesopotamia to the west. Since 1990 the Italian-Turkmen Archaeological Mission has been involved in numerous projects in the region, one of which was the creation of the archaeological map of the alluvial fan, mainly concerning the study of the settlement pattern during the Bronze and Iron Ages.
For more than 30 years, the Italian-Turkmen Archaeological Mission has investigated an area covering over 20,000 square kilometers, leading to the registration of about 2000 sites dating from the Bronze Age to the Islamic period. Since 2014, the efforts of the mission have been concentrated on the vast Bronze Age settlement of Togolok 1, which recovered a large amount of data on the latest occupation phases of one of the most important and extensive settlements in the Murghab region.
ISMEO – The International Association for Mediterranean and Oriental Studies, together with the Turkmen Ministry of Culture, is the main partner of the TAP Project and the main sponsor, together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. Other partners are the Freie Universität Berlin, the Universität Bern, the Max-Planck-Institut für Geoanthropologie of Jena, the University of Bologna, the University of Salento, the University of Naples “L’Orientale”, and the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut of Berlin. Among the numerous research supporters, the Embassy of Italy in Turkmenistan is providing a significant contribution to the project.
After the long break due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the TAP – Togolok Archaeological Project, directed by Dr. Barbara Cerasetti (ISMEO), will resume activities in September 2023 at the Bronze Age settlement of Togolok 1 in the Murghab region.
The main partners of this project are ISMEO and the Turkmen Ministry of Culture. Other partners are the Universität Bern, the Freie Universität Berlin, the University of Bologna, the Max-Planck-Institut für Geoanthropologie of Jena, the University of Salento, the University of Naples “L’Orientale”, and the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut of Berlin. The project is funded by ISMEO – The International Association for Mediterranean and Oriental Studies and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and supported by the Embassy of Italy in Turkmenistan.
In collaboration with a team from the Universität Bern, the joint archaeological mission will investigate the northern mound of Togolok 1 and its surrounding territory through a wide magnetometer survey. Three large trenches will be opened in order to have a continuous and reliable chronological sequence and to understand the close relationship between local farmers and mobile herders from the northern steppes.
The fieldwork will take four weeks and will be supported by local specialists from the National Historical Park “Ancient Merv” and the Museum of History and Cultures of Mary.
The investigation of Togolok 1 represents an excellent opportunity not only from a scientific perspective but also as an expression of the thirty-year collaboration between Italy and Turkmenistan.
TAP ⎯ Togolok Archaelogical Project website: https://togolokarchaelogicalproject.wordpress.com/