This section draws heavily on the
pioneering work by Markus Hauser in his Pamir Archive and, with his
permission, on a short brochure published in 2000 in only 30 copies on
which he worked with Mira Alekseyevna Bubnova of the Tajik Academy of
Sciences (A. Donish Institute of History, Archaeology and
The University of Central Asia (UCA) has just published a comprehensive work by
Mira Alekseyevna Bubnova on the archaeological sites of the Western Pamirs, entitled
An Archaeological Map of Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast: the Western Pamirs.
It is available from the Khorog campus of UCA, and from the Institute of History,
Archaeology and Ethnography of the Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan or the Museum of
Antiquities in Dushanbe. See here.
The first traces of civilisation in the Pamirs go back more than
20,000 years. Some 50 human settlements from the Stone Age have been
found in the Eastern Pamir. Cave paintings from this period can be
seen near the village of Djarty-Gumbez, 40km South of Murghab, just
off the main road to Khorog.
A ritual fire-worshipping site can be found at Lake Yashilkul on the
estuary of the Major Marjanai river near the village of Bulumkul.
Another fire temple can be seen in the village of Bogiv, 9km from
the regional centre, Khorog. (photo Peter Burgess)
There are solar calendars in the
Shuraly valley in upper Bartang, near Goudara (Kokjar pass), and in
Yamg village, 80 km from Ishkashim.
Stone used as a solar calendar by Sufi Muboraki Vakhoni (1839-1930), Yamg in Ishkashim district.
Caravanserai on the Alichur river
Photo Surat Toimastov
There is a Buddhist stupa in the village of Vrang -
87km from Ishkashim.
Many petroglyphs are found near the
village of Lyangar (120km from Ishkashim).
The Wakhan (Ishkashim district) was one of the main branches of the
Silk Road (also known as the Buddhist Route). Here there are many
traces of the great castles that guarded the route, offered
hospitality and exacted tribute – most of them built during the Kushan
period (second century BC to third century AD).
There are several castle ruins near the
centre of Ishkashim, on the banks of the Pyandj.
In the village
of Namadgut (17km from Ishkashim), there is a large fairly
well-preserved castle known as Khakhka dating from the fourth century
BC (photo Surat Toimastov)
The imposing fortress known as
'Zamr-i-atish-parast' ('Fortress of fire worshippers') above the village of Yamchun
(72km from Ishkashim). The earliest part of the construction dates from the third century BCE.
In the village of Zong (113km from Ishkashim)
there are the ruins of a number of castles, including Vishimkala
(photo Surat Toimastov)
Umbuq castle near Vrang
There are many interesting archaeological sites also in the Shokhdara
valley (Roshtkala district). The remains of castles can be seen in:
• Roshtkala (district centre)
• Shashbuvad village (118km from Khorog) and
• the valley of the Djavshangoz river
Derudj castle (5th to 7th century AD) – near
Other fortress-type buildings served to protect the extended families
of farmers and herdsmen (here in the village of Shashbuvad in Upper
Bazardara mining settlement
There are the remains of a medieval mining settlement (copper, tin, silver) in Bazardara
in Murghab district between the Alichur and Murghab rivers - see
All text and
photographs (c) Robert Middleton 2002
Web master Romanyuk