Teacher's handbook
Books & Monographs Articles
Book chapters  
Technical reports  
Education & outreach  
Dissertations and PhD Thesis  


Books & Monographs


Corbishley, M 2005. The Ancient Cities of Merv: Handbook for teachers. London: Institute of Archaeology, University College London. Translated by Gaigysyz Joraev.

Herrmann, G (1999) Monuments of Merv: Traditional Buildings of the Karakum, Society of Antiquaries of London

Herrmann, G et al (2002) The Monuments of Merv: a scanned archive of photographs and plans, Institute of Archaeology UCL & British Institute of Persian Studies

Puschnigg, G (2006) Ceramics of the Merv Oasis: Recycling the City. Left Coast Press

Corbishley, M. (2011) Pinning down the Past: Archaeology, Heritage, and Education Today. Woodbridge: Boydell Press.    (The Merv case study is pages 257-264) 'Pinning Down the Past: Archaeology, Heritage, and Education Today'by Mike Corbishley

to the top


Gilbert, D & Puschnigg, G, with contributions by Feuerbach, Vince & Williams (2 volumes) (forthcoming) The ceramics from Merv. Volume 1: The Achaemenid to late Sasanian ceramics from Merv c 6th century BC to 7th century AD; Volume 2: The Islamic ceramics from Merv c 7th-14th century AD, Saffron Press

St John Simpson et al (forthcoming) Merv: a Late Sasanian House in Erk Kala, Brill

to the top

In preparation

St John Simpson et al Merv: A Sasanian residential quarter, urban development, and industry in Gyaur Kala, Brill

Williams, T (ed) Merv: the medieval city of Sultan Kala. Development and infrastructure from the 7th to the 13th century, Saffron press

The aerial photographic and excavation work on the medieval cities of Merv, including Brun’s work on The fortifications of Sultan Kala. Islamic defences from the 11th-13th century andKruger’s Islamic stucco from Merv

Zavylov, V & Simpson, S Merv: The fortifications of Gyaur Kala from the 3rd century BC to the 8th century AD

to the top

Book chapters

Williams, T (2007) The city of Sultan Kala, Merv, Turkmenistan: communities, neighbourhoods and urban planning from the eighth to the thirteenth century, in Bennison, A K & Gascoigne, A (eds) Cities in the pre-modern Islamic world: the urban impact of religion, state and society, 42-62. London: Routledge

Zavyalov, V A (2007) The Fortifications of the City of Gyaur Kala, Merv, in Cribb, J & Herrmann, G (eds) After Alexander: Central Asia before Islam, 313-329. Oxford: Oxford University Press

to the top


Barton, J (2009) 3D laser scanning and the conservation of earthen architecture: a case study at the UNESCO World Heritage Site Merv, Turkmenistan, World Archaeology 41 (3), 489-504

In the autumn of 2007, a new phase of conservation effort and research was implemented by University College London's Ancient Merv Project (AMP) at the Silk Road cities of Merv, Turkmenistan. The 1200ha archaeological park consists of multiple cities built of earthen architecture and fired brick, of which much of the archaeology is buried, including extensive stretches of defensive circuits of some of the cities. Many of the exposed structures are suffering extensive erosion. The new phase of the AMP's research brought some of the latest digital technologies, including 3D laser scanning, digital photography and GPS survey equipment, to the desert cities of Merv to conduct a high definition documentation (HDD) and digital preservation project. The project served to create a point-in-time record for some of the most at-risk structures, to create a foundation data set for future erosion monitoring within the site and to research the benefits of using HDD technologies at earthen sites around the world to change the way site managers and conservers make decisions.

Brun, P (2005) From arrows to bullets: the fortifications of Abdullah Khan Kala (Merv, Turkmenistan), Antiquity 79 (305), 616-624

Cooke, L (2007) The archaeologist's challenge or despair: reburial at Merv, Turkmenistan, Conservation and management of archaeological sites 9 (2), 97-112

Damage to archaeological deposits and structures exposed in the sides and base of abandoned excavation trenches is a phenomenon found at many archaeological sites. Archaeological resources at the Ancient Merv Archaeological Park, Turkmenistan, have been placed at risk by earlier archaeological work which made limited provision for conservation. The legacy of one hundred years of archaeological investigation within the park is c. 260 open, and now abandoned, trenches. These trenches pose particular problems for the effective management of the Archaeological Park. As one component of the Ancient Merv Project, research was carried out to establish an appropriate solution for the documentation and conservation of these trenches, and the associated problems of abandoned excavation spoil heaps. This paper details experimental backfilling/reburial work carried out in 2002/2003, on a trench originally excavated in the late 1990s. The design considered aspects of compatibility, compaction, separation, reversibility and drainage. The work consisted of partial reburial, using the originally excavated earthen material for the fill, and a geotextile for separation. The paper discusses the implementation of the reburial project and the longer-term issues of implementing a wider reburial programme within the park.

Dare, P, Herrmann, G, Williams, T & Ziebart, M (2002) Acquisition, registration and application of IKONOS space imagery for the World Heritage Site at Merv, Turkmenistan, in Proceedings of the Space Applications for Heritage Conservation at the International Space University, Strasbourg

Herrmann, G . The Medieval City of Merv and the buildings of the Merv oasis. (internet article)

Puschnigg, G (2008) Hellenistic echoes in Parthian Merv: transformation and adaptation in the ceramic repertoire, Parthica 10, 109-127

Williams, T with Kurbansakhatov, K et al (2002) The Ancient Merv project, Turkmenistan: preliminary report on the first season (2001), Iran 40, 9-57

Williams, T (2002) Ancient Merv: Queen of Cities, World Heritage 24, 4-15, UNESCO

Williams, T with Kurbansakhatov, K et al (2003) The Ancient Merv project, Turkmenistan: preliminary report on the second season (2002), Iran 41, 139-170

Williams, T (2003) Ancient Merv, Turkmenistan: research, conservation and management at a World Heritage Site, Archaeology International (2002/03), 40-3

Williams, T (2004) Conservation issues of Ancient Merv monuments, MIRAS 14, 140-144

Williams, T (2007) Training courses at the old Silk Road city of Merv, Turkmenistan, Archaeology International 9 (2005/06), 53-57

Williams, T (2008) The landscapes of Islamic Merv, Turkmenistan: Where to draw the line?, Internet Archaeology 25 http://intarch.ac.uk/journal/issue25/merv_index.html

This article outlines approaches for interpreting the Islamic city of Sultan Kala (Merv), c. 8th-13th centuries AD, based upon aerial photographic and satellite imagery. Hierarchies of assumptions (identification of individual wall lines; which frame spaces, rooms and courtyards; which are grouped as parts of specific buildings; which are part of urban blocks) and ontologies (information about these assumptions and the variable confidence of interpretation, from the position of lines to spatial function) provide a dynamic structure for the presentation of data, interpretation and theory. The article establishes procedures and protocols within two sample areas (selected to represent the diverse features of the urban and suburban landscapes) to:

  • Explore the theory and methodology of documenting interpretation (and uncertainty) in the transcription of aerial photographic and satellite imagery
  • Develop ontological approaches to structuring interpretations and assumptions, within a hermeneutic model.
  • Provide a textual and graphic narrative of the development of the areas.
  • Establish an online forum (weblog) to contribute to the long-term project.
  • Explore the use of other forms of electronic archive material, in particular, how imagery and audio files can be used to develop the discussion of landscapes and buildings.

The LEAP project was the winner of the British Archaeological Awards - Best Archaeological Innovation 2008.
Highly Commended in The Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers Awards - Publishing Innovation 2009 for integrating journal content with underlying data. The ALPSP said "this project enhances the value of both current and future scholarship and is reconfiguring the publishing landscape for archaeology". Press release – link to http://intarch.ac.uk/leap/alpsp-press-release.pdf

Williams, T. 2012. Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Photography: Exploring the Medieval City of Merv, on the Silk Roads of Central Asia. Archaeology International; Vol 15: 2011-2012. 74-88 (Available at: http://www.ai-journal.com/article/view/ai.1522/297)

to the top

Technical reports

This series will be distributed via web (PDF). Titles to be released shortly.

to the top

Education & outreach

Corbishley, M 2005. The Ancient Cities of Merv: Handbook for teachers. London: Institute of Archaeology, University College London. Translated by Gaigysyz Joraev.

Herrmann, G. and A. Petersen 1997. The Ancient Cities of Merv Turkmenistan. A Visitor’s Guide. London: The International Merv Project.

to the top

Dissertations and PhD Thesis

BA, BSc and MA Dissertations

Denton, L (2009) UNESCO aspirations for values-based management at World Heritage Sites: attainable reality of ambitious idealism? A case study from Merv, Turkmenistan. Unpublished MA dissertation. London: University College London.

Barton J (2008) An Analysis of High Definition Documentation in Conservation and Management of Earthen Architecture: a case study in Merv, Turkmenistan. Unpublished MA dissertation. London: University College London

Jorayev G (2008) Post-Soviet Turkmenistan: Tradition, Religion and Heritage. Unpublished MA dissertation. London: University College London.

Linde, van der S (2004) Dealing with conflicts in the management of archaeological sites. Balancing immediate activities, sustainable development and ideal management planning: a case study from Ancient Merv. Unpublished MA dissertation. London: University of London.

Peek, N (2004) Experimentation with different forms of earthen material conservation, with the aim of designing a conservation strategy for a section through the defensive wall at Merv, Turkmenistan. Unpublished BSc dissertation. London: University of London.

Venables, C (2003) Theoretical Issues of Site Interpretation; their contribution to the design and development of an interpretation centre using the Ancient Merv Archaeological Park as a case study. Unpublished MA dissertation. London: University of London.

Bridgewater, C (2003) Development of an Educational Strategy for the site of Merv, Turkmenistan, and an analysis of the benefits for the site and the community. Unpublished MA dissertation. London: University of London.

PhD Thesis

Cooke, L (2009) Approaches to the conservation and management of earthen architecture in archaeological contexts. Unpublished PhD dissertation. London: University College London.

to the top