Training Programme

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Park Staff and team members

A three week training programme was undertaken at Ancient Merv Archaeological Park , between the 13 th - 30 th June, 2005. This work was generously funded and enabled by a grant from The Kaplan Foundation, with the support and administration of the World Monuments Fund. Special thanks got to Gaetano Palumbo and Mark Webber for their support throughout this project. The programme was attended by staff from the State Archaeological Parks, from all over Turkmenistan, to work together at Merv, developing skills in digital photography, archaeological recording, documentation and management planning. It consisted of two courses:

Course 1: Ethics, philosophy and approaches to the management of Cultural Heritage sites . A one-week course aimed at a broad audience from a range of Archaeological Parks across Turkmenistan .

Course 2: Approaches to documentation of Cultural Heritage sites . A two week course primarily aimed at the Merv Park Staff, but also attended by some staff from other Archaeological Parks. Practical elements of the course included:

  • documentation and condition assessment of Porsy Köshk;
  • documentation of the archaeological and conservation activities at Erk Kala;
  • reburial of archaeological sites.

Example of work: Condition assessment of Porsy Köshk

Work was undertaken as part of the documentation course to prepare a detailed condition assessment for Porsy Köshk, one of the “at risk” structures within the park. The assessment considered information about the monument (location, type, date and description), assessment and description of monument condition, assessment of visitor potential, assessment of significance (and factor that detract from significance), risk assessment and management proposals (see attached form). The document was prepared over four mornings in the field, and lively discussion and collation of the documentation in the classroom. The fieldwork provided an important opportunity to experiment with, and gain experience of, digital photography, which was used in the production of the field reports. The system refined and developed for the Porsy Köshk will be used for the monument documentation for a number of other köshk buildings as part of the ongoing work programme.

A member of the Archaeological Park undertaking a condition assessment.

Undertaking the documentation at Porsy Köshk

Example of work: Documentation of the archaeological and conservation activities at Erk Kala.

Excavation trench at Erk Kala, Merv

Recording the exposed archaeology of the late defences of Erk Kala. The defences were being badly damaged by rainwater run-off, causing deep gullies that cut through the fragile archaeology. The gullies were cleaned, the archaeological sequence documented (an opportunity to train Turkmen staff in archaeological recording), and then backfilled with sacrificial material to stabilise the slope.

This work included courses on Archaeological recording & documentation. The trench was also used for a practical session on the approaches to reburial of archaeological sites. The course considered strategies for preventative conservation, the condition assessment of old excavation sites, and worldwide perspectives on reburial programmes. The participants then undertook all stages of the processes: documentation, installation of the separator, preparation of the materials and compaction.

Other work undertaken:


Training course participants reburying an archaeological excavation in Gyaur Kala


Work was undertaken, as part of the documentation course in week 3, on the detailed documentation and monitoring of an excavated section through the Gyaur Kala defences.