Details of a copy of a mural from Afrasiyab
Afrasiyab is the oldest part and the ruined site of the ancient and medieval city of Samarkand. It was located on high ground for defensive reasons, south of a river valley and north of a large fertile area which has now became part of the city of Samarkand.
The term Qal’a-ye Afrasiab (Castle of Afrasiab) appeared in written sources only towards the end of the 17th century. The name is popularly connected with the mythical King Afrasiab. Scholars consider Afrasiab to be a distortion and a corrupted form of the Tajik word Parsīāb (from Sogdian Paršvāb), meaning "beyond the black river", the river being Sīāhāb or Sīāb, which bounds the site to the north. Afrā is the poetic form of the Persian word Farā (itself a poetic word), which means 'beyond, further', while Sīāb comes from sīāh meaning 'black' and Āb meaning 'water; river; sea' (depending on the context).
The area of Afrasiyab covers about 220 hectares, and the thickness of the archaeological strata reaches 8–12 metres. Archaeological excavations have been carried out in Afrasiyab since the end of the 19th century. In the 1920s, it was extensively excavated by the archaeologist Mikhail Evgenievich Masson who placed artifacts found at the site in the Samarkand museum. His archaeological study revealed that a Samanid palace had once been located at Afrasiyab. It was again actively excavated during the 1960-70s.
See also Afrasiab painting for wall paintings discovered in the archeological site.
- Darmesteter J., "Hang-e Afrasiab", Études Iraniennes (1883): 225-27.
- Yarshater, E., "Afrasiab", Encyclopædia Iranica - digital library; accessed January 18, 2007.
- "Mikhail Evgenievich Masson - the founder of the archaeological school in Central Asia". UNESCO. Retrieved November 7, 2009.
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