Antiquities of Samarkand. Kurgan in the Vicinity of Samarkand. Location of Kafir Muri


This photograph of the ruins of a fortress mound at Kafir Muri, near Samarkand (Uzbekistan), is from the archeological part of Turkestan Album. The six-volume photographic survey was produced in 1871-72 under the patronage of General Konstantin P. von Kaufman, the first governor-general (1867-82) of Turkestan, as the Russian Empire’s Central Asian territories were called. The album devotes special attention to Samarkand’s architectural heritage. There are a number of such fortresses in the vicinity of Samarkand, presumably built by Sogdian kings before the Arab conquest at the turn of the 8th century. They not only defended the approaches to Samarkand, or Maracanda, as it was then called, they also protected the Silk Road caravans from China. The ruined walls rise from the surrounding plains, which were extensively irrigated in ancient times. The moist earth, in turn, provided an ample supply of building material that was used in a technique known as pakhsa (rammed earth), which compresses damp soil mixed with clay and gravel into durable blocks. Adobe brick structures could be added on top of this base. Such fortresses usually were sacked by the Arabs, and large segments of their walls have eroded back into the earth. The standing figure at the top gives some idea of the scale.

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Курганы в окрестностяхъ города. Местность (Кафыр Мури)

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 2, plate 154.

Last updated: September 30, 2016