Anau Mosque is 40 minutes by car south east of Ashgabat. This site includes the remains of the ancient settlement of Anau-Depe and fortress of “Gatar”. The name Annau derives “Abi-Nau” “new water” from Persian. This place was already inhabited in the 4-3 millenniums B.C. Being the first archeological site of Turkmenistan ever excavated, the culture of this period has been named Anau culture for all archeological sites of Turkmenistan dated this period.
Excavations began in l904 when American archaeologist R. Pampelli launched an expedition. The site includes a great wall and a ditch. Some skeletons of children, remains of the painted ceramics, decorated with geometrical ornaments and the most ancient camel remains were discovered during excavations in Anau. According to the scientists camels were domesticated first on the territory of the present day Turkmenistan.
Anau fortress or Gatar already existed during the Parthian period /3d c BC- 3d c. AD/. The mosque, dated to the 15th c., is located in the southern part of the fortress. Its lofty, powerful outlines were visible from a great distance. One curious feature of the mosque is the mosaic decoration above the entrance, depicting two enormous 8-9 m dragons facing each other. Some experts think that dragons were totems of local Turkmen tribe which lived in Anau in the 15 century. Sheikh Jemaleddin probably belonged to this tribe.
The mosque was destroyed by the 1948 earthquake in Ashgabat. In the meantime the location is still hallowed as the site of grave of Sheikh Jemalleddin. Childless couples bring children’s clothes here as an offering, and baby dolls are swaddled and left in tiny hammocks slung between two sticks.