Ancient Merv

The ancient Merv is located near the river of Murghab, nearby of the modern city of Bairam-Ali, approximately 30 km from the city of Mary.

 During the 10th century, Merv was one of the largest and powerful cities in the world. The ruins of the city walls and fortresses are what left of the huge magnificent city. It was a center of science, education, and culture, attracting astronomers and mathematicians such as Omar Khayyam.

The past of Merv is mysterious,  Merv had been the capital of prospering Margiana and the major center on the international caravan line of the Silk Road long before the approach of our era. At various times it was called differently: Mouru (the name of Murghab oasis in “Avesta”), Margush, Margiana, Margav, Maru and Merv.

The city period began with the building of fortresses. In the 4th century BC, the city and the entire Margiana area were conquered by Alexander the Great. Then the city was named Alexandria in Margiana. After the dissolution of that huge empire, Margiana lands became a part of the Seleucid Empire. The governor Antiochus Soter ordered to build a city which later was named in his honor – Antiochia in Margiana. Under the rule of Antiochus, the entire Murghab oasis was surrounded by the 230-km wall. That wall protected the rich lands of Merv from the desert sand and at the same time stopped the aggressive nomads-Scythians. The city prospered until the first half of the 3rd century when Margiana was conquered by Sassanid Persians. The well-known dynasty ruled until 651. Then Merv was won by Arabs. But the time of the highest development of medieval Merv and its final layout was in the 11th -12th centuries when Merv became the capital of the Great Seljuk State. The ancient settlement of Merv is a part of the State Historical and Cultural Reserve “Ancient Merv” and is under the state protection as UNESCO Heritage Site.