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Dating the Irrigation System of the Samarkand Oasis: A Geoarchaeological Study

Malatesta, Luca Claude and Castelltort, Sébastien and Mantellini, Simone and Picotti, Vincenzo and Hajdas, Irka and Simpson, Guy and Berdimuradov, Amriddin Ergashevich and Tosi, Maurizio and Willlett, Sean Douglas (2012) Dating the Irrigation System of the Samarkand Oasis: A Geoarchaeological Study. Radiocarbon, 54 (1). pp. 91-105. ISSN 0033-8222. doi:10.2458/azu_js_rc.v54i1.15839.

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The oasis of Samarkand in the Middle Zeravshan Valley (modern Uzbekistan) was a major political and economic center in ancient western Central Asia. The chronology of its irrigation system was, until now, only constrained by the quality and quantity of archaeological findings and several different hypotheses have been proposed for it. We use a new approach combining archaeological surveying, radiocarbon dating, sedimentary analysis, and the numerical modeling of a flood event to offer new evidence for, and quantitative dating of, the development of irrigation system on the southern flank of the Middle Zeravshan Valley. We analyzed 13 bones and charcoals from 3 archaeological sites and obtained new ^(14)C ages from Afrasiab (ancient Samarkand), a dwelling damaged by flooding in the 2nd century AD (site code: SAM-174) and the fortress of Kafir Kala. We established the origin of sedimentary deposits at the sites to infer the presence of the 2 most important canals of the southern flank: the Dargom and the Yanghiaryk. Finally, we show with a numerical model of overland flow that a natural flood was unlikely to have produced the damage observed at SAM-174. The combined results of the study indicate that the canals south of Samarkand existed, and were mainly developed, in the 2nd century AD and were not connected to the main feeding canal of Afrasiab at that time.

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Tosi, Maurizio0000-0002-0986-4759
Additional Information:© 2012 Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. We thank the team of the Uzbek-Italian Archaeological Expedition at Samarkand, in particular, Giorgia Codini for the excavation of the section in the gully of Kafir Kala; Serena di Cugno, Elisa betta Sedda, and Cristina Ambrosioni for the excavation of the site SAM-174; Rita Dimartino for the study of the pottery from the section of the gully in Kafir Kala and the site of SAM-174; Pro Giovanni Gabbianelli for his initial financial support. Lydia Zehnder and Eric Reusser for their support for XRD measurements. A final thanks go to Frantz Grenet, Claude Rapin, Mukhamadjan Isamiddinov, and Olga Inevatkina of the French-Uzbek Archaeological Expedition in Samarkand (MAFOuz) for providing data from Afrasiab.
Subject Keywords:surface processes; archaeology; sedimentology; irrigation; Samarkand; oasis; flood modeling
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20120926-094507333
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:34411
Deposited By: Jason Perez
Deposited On:26 Sep 2012 18:18
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 23:08

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