Sarazm Archaeological Site – Durman, Tajikistan - Atlas Obscura

Sarazm Archaeological Site

Durman, Tajikistan

Right beyond the Uzbekistan-Tajikistan border lies the oldest human settlement in Central Asia. 


Located less than 10 miles west of Panjakent, Tajikistan, not far from the Uzbek border, lies the archaeological site of Sarazm. Known as the oldest human settlement in Central Asia, dubbed a “proto-urban site” by UNESCO, the site dates back to the 4th millennium BCE, dating back over 5,000 years.

Discovered by local farmers, the Sarazm site was first excavated in 1977 and revealed numerous ancient structures such as houses, tombs, and fortifications. Archaeological finds included pottery vessels, terracotta figurines, arrow points, cylinder seals, jewelry, bronze objects, and items brought from Iran. The town’s role in local agriculture, mining, and metallurgy appears to have been significant, perhaps quite influential.

The earthwork dwellings often consist of multiple rooms, some serving as communal spaces. There are also remains of hearths and altars where sacred fires were once lit, suggesting possible cult activities, though the religious practices of ancient Sarazm’s inhabitants remain unclear.

In 2010, the site was inscribed on the World Heritage List, the first location in Tajikistan given the honor.

Know Before You Go

From the Uzbek side, you can easily take a day trip from Samarkand to Sarazm.

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June 3, 2024

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