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General description of the site

Ladislav Stančo (Jandavlattepa I: chapter 1, 2)


Position: GPS – measured from the topmost point of the Shakhristan (former Soviet topographical point, 37.619720°, 67.087370°).

37.619050° E 67.088536° N (source: GoogleEarth)

Straight lines of distance to related archaeological sites:

A) Regional importance: to Tafka Kala 13.6 km; to Talashkan 16.5 km; to Kampyrtepa 23.8 km; to Fayaztepa 38 km; to Old Termez 40.3 km; to Zurmala 41.5 km; to the Iron gate (Darbant) 65.5 km; to Dalverzintepa 86 km.

B) Interregional importance: to Baktra 96 km; to Ai Khanum 211 km; to Sogdiana (Yerkurgan) 190 km, (Marakanda) 227 km; to Merv (Gyaur Kala) 432 km; to Khwarazm (Ayaz Kala) 711 km, (Toprak Kala) 718 km; to Sirkap (Taxila) 673 km; Kashgar 802 km.

The site of Jandavlattepa is located in an intensely irrigated and cultivated plain close to rather deep riverbed of the Sherabad River (Uzb. Sherobod Darya), 7.67 km from the town of Sherabad, the district headquarters. The river, itself, flows 780 m to the east of the site. Nowadays, most of the surrounding fields are used for the cultivation of cotton, and the whole area is interwoven with irrigation ditches. This flat plain dominates the whole southern horizon while the northern and north-western views are dominated by the ranges and foothills of the Kougitang and Baysoun Mountains. Lower ridges of Haudag hills rise also on the east side, separating the valleys of Sherabad Darya and Surkhan Darya. Jandavlattepa commands the area being strategically well located only 10km from the outflow where the Sherabad River leaves the mountains. At one time, when travelling from Sogdiana to Bactria (as understood in the prevailing view of modern scholarship), the first large settlement of letter on the way was Jandavlattepa.



General surface area including slopes: 72,820 sq. m; Shakhristan – upper surface 40,203 sq. m; Citadel – upper surface 920 sq. m.

Maximum length SE to NW: 416 m

Maximum length NE to SW: 341 m

The height of the Citadel above the surrounding cotton fields is about 20
m, while the height of the Shakhristan varies between 12 and 18 m. The highest point, the top of the Citadel, lies at an elevation of 378.4 m above sea level, while the elevation of the original topographical point on the top of the Shakhristan is marked on the Soviet-era topographical plan at 376.6 m.

Judging simply by its dimensions, we are inclined to classify the site of Jandavlattepa in the Graeco-Bactrian and Kushan periods as a small fortified town or “townlet”, in Russian terminology the term “Городище” is favoured. Its extent in the earlier periods, i.e. in the Achaemenid and the Early Iron Age, is hard to determine in the present state of research.



The ground plan of the site has a strange polygonal shape, which resembles a deformed rectangle. Irregularities, especially the inward curve in the northern part, are hard to explain. While theories concerning large-scale erosion inflicted by the earlier riverbed of the Sherabad River or the building of the settlement in a backwater of its earlier course are rather unlikely, another theory, that the site had grown gradually and spontaneously in the earlier periods of its occupation and that its shape was respected also in later, let us say, historic periods, make more sense.

The site (tepa) could be divided into two principal parts: Citadel and Shakhristan. Both terms are borrowed from Russian and local archaeological terminology. The Citadel refers to the smaller, separate, usually higher, part of the settlement with some specific function either religious or defensive or representative. The term “Shakhristan” indicates the lower town, larger as a rule, primarily functioning as living and craftsmen quarters.


The slopes of the tepa are very steep, except for the southern part. The surface of the lower town (Shakhristan) is rather flat and descends slightly from west to east. Almost the whole surface of the plateau is covered by shallow depressions indicating the slumps of the cavities of recent grave pits. These loose-soil depressions are covered with more luxuriant vegetation, grass and dry little shrubs. To the contrary, the surface of the Citadel is uneven.

Unlike many other sites in Surkhan Darya, little can be said about the extent and character of those parts of the settlements, which arose in the vicinity of the main tepa outside the town walls because of the extensive cultivation of the area. For the results of our preliminary survey.