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Ancient Merv Project

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Kyz Kala Project

Aerial Photo of the Great Kyz Kala (Photo: Alexis Pantos)

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Introduction: The Great Kyz Kala

The Great Kyz Kala is a monumental mudbrick, fortified-building, one of a number of similar structures known as köshks, within the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Merv, Turkmenistan.  The monument’s construction date and use are currently a matter of some speculation; it is thought to have been built somewhere between the 6th and 8th century CE, in the late Sassanian or early Islamic period, and to have continued in use until the Mongol sack of Merv in 1221 CE.  Located just outside the city walls, it seems likely to have functioned as a fortified residence, with recent excavations, carried out by the National Directorate for Protection, Research and Restoration of Cultural-Historical Monuments of the Ministry of Culture of Turkmenistan, identifying a number of internal divisions, with distinct rooms, floor surfaces and staircases.

The Great Kyz Kala May 2015

Renowned for its massive scale and 15m tall corrugated walls, which tower over visitors, the Great Kyz Kala is not only the largest and best preserved example of this unique building type to survive into the modern era, it is also one of the largest mudbrick buildings standing anywhere in the world.

The Great Kyz Kala Project is a collaboration between the National Directorate for Protection, Research and Restoration of Cultural-Historical Monuments of the Ministry of Culture of Turkmenistan, including the Ancient Merv Archaeological Park, UCL and CRATerre-ENSAG, Grenoble and is generously funded by the US Ambassadors Fund.