The landscapes of Islamic Merv, Turkmenistan: Where to draw the line?

Tim Williams

Institute of Archaeology, University College London, 31-34 Gordon Square, LondonWC1H 0PY. Email:


Composite image of the Merv landscape, the process of surveying, aerial photograph and artistic representation of the city

This article outlines approaches for interpreting the Islamic city of Sultan Kala (Merv), c. 8th-13th centuries AD, based upon aerial photographic and satellite imagery. Hierarchies of assumptions (identification of individual wall lines; which frame spaces, rooms and courtyards; which are grouped as parts of specific buildings; which are part of urban blocks) and ontologies (information about these assumptions and the variable confidence of interpretation, from the position of lines to spatial function) provide a dynamic structure for the presentation of data, interpretation and theory.

The article establishes procedures and protocols within two sample areas (selected to represent the diverse features of the urban and suburban landscapes) to:

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Last updated: Wed Apr 02 2008