In April 2023, after a four-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the Russia-Turkmenistan Margiana Archaeological Expedition resumed its research in Margiana at the base of the Anthropoecology Center of the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Khаrakum.
The expedition was interrupted during the mawssum period, when archaeological findings were explored in the Gonur-depe area of Turkmenistan. The work involved the Russian Institute of History of Material Culture (St. Petersburg), the Russian Institute of Mineralogy (Chelyabinsk), and staff from museums and scientific institutions in Turkmenistan. All research was conducted under an agreement between the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Ministry of Culture of Turkmenistan.
Archaeological excavations in the Gonur-depe area (Mary province, Bayramali) covered an area of 1500 square meters, where 31 burials with remains of paleoanthropological findings were discovered. Gonur-2 and Gonur-3 were also explored, where reconnaissance work was carried out to study the life and rituals of local residents, as well as the specialization of settlements near the center and the cult city.
As a result of the 2023 expedition, the leadership confirmed the wide-ranging beliefs about the burial ceremonies of the ancient population of Margiana:
A new type of burial was discovered and described;
For the first time, a tomb structure with an inscribed brick was found in Gonur-depe, which had not been noticed during excavations for more than 50 years;
In the central part of the site, dried mud “shars” (4th photo) were identified, which were used for cooking;
Numerous vessels and figurines (a total of 26) were found, which were made of stone, two-sided, and had interesting images;
Amulet seals with unusual images that have not been seen before;
Sopols with footprints of animals such as turtles, deer, and other animals that were used in ritual practices;
In addition, other burials were discovered.
The news posted on the Institute’s website confirmed the widespread interest among local and foreign tourists, and visits continue to be regularly conducted.