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Merv, an archaeological case-study from the northeastern frontier of the Sasanian Empire

Merv, an archaeological case-study from the northeastern frontier of the Sasanian Empire This paper re-examines some of the latest archaeological evidence from Merv, beginning with the oasis, followed by the city and finally with aspects of the urban economy. It concludes with a brief exploration of how this cumulative evidence matches that from some other regions of the Sasanian Empire, including frontier regions such as Gorgan, and the Mesopotamian heartlands, and argues that cross-regional archaeological comparison throws new light on how the Sasanian state effectively managed its resources. Keywords: Merv, Near Eastern archaeology, Sasanian Empire, imperial economies DOI 10.1515/jah-2014-0033 I Introduction Infamous as the final refuge and murder scene of the last Sasanian ruler, Yazdgard III (r. 633­651), Merv lies near the northeast limit of the Sasanian Empire (Fig. 1). Although historically and politically part of Iranian Khurasan for centuries, the city and its surrounding oasis are geographically part of southwest Central Asia. As such, Merv was a key focus for Soviet archaeologists and propagated as a primarily Parthian city.1 Since the independence of Turkmenistan in 1991, Merv has been the site of renewed archaeology and post-excavation analyses, many of the earlier attributions and interpretations have been revised, and the significance of the Sasanian period has been comprehensively re-interpreted.2 1 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Ancient History de Gruyter

Merv, an archaeological case-study from the northeastern frontier of the Sasanian Empire

Journal of Ancient History , Volume 2 (2) – Nov 1, 2014

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Publisher
de Gruyter
Copyright
Copyright © 2014 by the
ISSN
2324-8106
eISSN
2324-8114
DOI
10.1515/jah-2014-0033
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This paper re-examines some of the latest archaeological evidence from Merv, beginning with the oasis, followed by the city and finally with aspects of the urban economy. It concludes with a brief exploration of how this cumulative evidence matches that from some other regions of the Sasanian Empire, including frontier regions such as Gorgan, and the Mesopotamian heartlands, and argues that cross-regional archaeological comparison throws new light on how the Sasanian state effectively managed its resources. Keywords: Merv, Near Eastern archaeology, Sasanian Empire, imperial economies DOI 10.1515/jah-2014-0033 I Introduction Infamous as the final refuge and murder scene of the last Sasanian ruler, Yazdgard III (r. 633­651), Merv lies near the northeast limit of the Sasanian Empire (Fig. 1). Although historically and politically part of Iranian Khurasan for centuries, the city and its surrounding oasis are geographically part of southwest Central Asia. As such, Merv was a key focus for Soviet archaeologists and propagated as a primarily Parthian city.1 Since the independence of Turkmenistan in 1991, Merv has been the site of renewed archaeology and post-excavation analyses, many of the earlier attributions and interpretations have been revised, and the significance of the Sasanian period has been comprehensively re-interpreted.2 1

Journal

Journal of Ancient Historyde Gruyter

Published: Nov 1, 2014

References