Antiquities of Samarkand. Kurgan in the Vicinity of Samarkand. Ruins of the Citadel of Afrasiab


This photograph of the ancient settlement of Afrosiab, on the northern outskirts of 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. In 1874 -- a few years after this photograph -- the first excavations began on the Afrasiab site. Subsequent major excavations have revealed a wealth of archeological material. On that basis, it was determined that the settlement existed at least 2,500 years ago. Although the name has been linked to the legendary Turanian king Afrasiab, who appears in the epic Shāhnāma (written around the year 1000, by the Persian poet Ferdowsi), contemporary scholarship holds that Afrasiab is related to the name of the Siab (“black water”) River, to the north of the site. In addition to the remains of houses arranged on a grid of paved streets, the ruins of a palace, a mosque, and a citadel were discovered within the walled site. Some of the buildings had wall paintings of tempera over stucco. A number of valuable artifacts were also found, indicating a high level of culture and prosperity.

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Курганы в окретностях г. Самарканда. Развалины цитадели "Афросиаба"

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 2, plate 153.

Last updated: September 30, 2016