Adobe Buildings and Burial Mounds in Desert Area


This view shows the Tekin Cemetery near the town of Bayramaly (present-day Turkmenistan).The earthen mounds, which often were reinforced with brick, are burial plots typical of Central Asia. Some of the mounds still have poles that were used as grave markers. Visible on the left are adobe walls that enclose special burial grounds. Bayramaly, situated in Mary Province on the railroad from Ashgabat to Tashkent, is known as a dry spa with a favorable climate. Nearby are the remains of the ancient city of Merv. The image is by Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944), who used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire in the early 20th century. Some of Prokudin-Gorskii’s photographs date from about 1905, but the bulk of his work is from between 1909 and 1915, when, with the support of Tsar Nicholas II and the Ministry of Transportation, he undertook extended trips through many parts of the empire. Prokudin-Gorskii was particularly interested in recently acquired territories of the Russian Empire such as Turkestan (present-day Uzbekistan and neighboring states), which he visited on a number of occasions, including two trips in 1911. His work there reveals a dual purpose: to show progress and development as a result of Russian settlement and to record the monuments of traditional Islamic culture.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Саманные постройки и захоронения в пустыне

Type of Item

Physical Description

Glass negative (presented as a digital color composite)


  • Prokudin-Gorskii’s photographic work survives primarily in two forms: 1,901 black-and-white triple-frame glass plate negatives, made with color separation filters, which Prokudin-Gorskii used to make color prints and lantern slides; and 12 albums of sepia-tone prints, made from the glass negatives, which Prokudin-Gorskii compiled as a record of his travels and studies. The Library of Congress purchased the glass plate negatives and the albums from the Prokudin-Gorskii family in 1948. In 2004, the Library of Congress had digital color composites made from all the surviving glass negatives using a software algorithm to automatically align the color components. As with most historical photographs, title and subject identifications are corrected and enhanced through new research. Current information on the collection is at

Last updated: September 30, 2016