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see MervMerv
, ancient city, in Turkmenistan, in a large oasis of the Kara Kum desert, on the Murgab River. The city, known in antiquity as Margiana, or Antiochia Margiana, was founded in the 3d cent. B.C. on the site of an earlier settlement. Its periods of greatness were from A.D.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Greek, Margiane; Old Persian, Margush), the name of an ancient region in Middle Asia, along the Murgab (Murghab) River, in present-day southeastern Turkmen SSR and northern Afghanistan. It was first mentioned in the Avesta and the Behistun inscription. Margiana bordered Parthia on the west, Sogdi on the northeast, Bactria on the east, and Arii on the south. Its capital was in the area of ancient Merv. In 522 B.C., the people of Margiana rebelled against Achaemenid rule, but their rebellion was suppressed by King Darius I (521 B.C.). Margiana later was seized by Alexander the Great, the Seleucid state, and the Parthian kingdom. During the Middle Ages the territory became part of Khurasan.

In the first third of the first millennium B.C., urban-type settlements appeared in Margiana (Yaz-depe). Circa 500 B.C. the cities were surrounded by fortress walls (for example, the city of Merv). In the third century B.C. Hellenistic elements appeared in the art of Margiana. At the height of the region’s development, from the second century B.C. to the third century A.D., its cities and forts were built on a grid plan. Many of the buildings had serpentine walls (for example, at Chilburdzh). Residential buildings generally consisted of several living units with one court (Dzhin-depe). Terra-cotta statuettes were common, and ossuaries in the form of architectural structures were encountered. Toward the third century A.D., Buddhist architecture and sculpture appeared in the region. The artistic tradition of Margiana was developed further in the art of Merv.


Pugachenkova, G. A. Iskusstvo Turkmenistana. Moscow, 1967.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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