Antiquities of Samarkand. Kurgan in the Vicinity of Samarkand. Location of Pai Fasad. General View of the Tumulus from Its Base


This photograph of fortress ruins at Pai Fasad, 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. The mound shown here is possibly a remnant of one of the fortresses built by Sogdian kings before the Arab conquest at the turn of the 8th century. Such fortifications not only defended the approaches to Samarkand, or Maracanda, as it was then called, they also protected Silk Road caravans from China. The ruined walls in this view 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. Such fortresses usually were sacked by the Arabs, and large segments of their walls have gradually eroded back into the earth. Adobe brick structures could be added on top of this base.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Курганы в окрестностях города. Местность пай фасад. Общий вид Холма с его подошвы

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