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Archaeological Study of the Turkestan Oasis

June 7, 2008

The volunteer camp is organized within the context of a project of excavation of the Insititute of Archaeology aimed at the study of the medieval oasis of Sauran, located at 40 km at west of Turkestan. Last season, the research teams worked in the area of the early medieval town of Karatobe and in the late medieval town of Sauran. They have excavated the upper layer of the early medieval citadel of Karatobe (I-VIII AD) and late medieval buildings including a large mosque inside the walled town of Sauran (XII-XVIII A.D.).

Sauran was already mentioned in the Arabic and Persian sources of the IX A.D. as a large fortified town protected by seven walls. This early medieval town corresponds to the site of Karatobe located at 3 km at the SE of Sauran. After the Mongolian conquest of South Kazakhstan, Sauran was rebuilt and moved from Karatobe to the walled town of Sauran. Several times, Sauran was the most important town of South Kazakhstan and the capital of the White Horde during the 14th and 15th centuries A.C. One of the characteristics of the area is the existence of a sophisticated system of irrigation through lines of wells capturing the groundwater and known as karez. According to historical sources, the karez technique was imported at the beginning of the 16th century A.C. but the recent investigations lead to an older and probably aboriginal sophisticated technology.

The work of the coming season will consist of excavating the upper late medieval layers near the citadel of Karatobe and excavating late medieval constructions in the center of Sauran. Volunteers will be taught all the successive phases and methods of archaeological investigations.


Dates: 15 July – 15 October 2008

No experience required

Accommodation will be arranged in a very comfortable local archaeological base. Volunteers should bring a sleeping bag, a mat, a sweater, some strong shoes, and a flashlight. The surroundings offer facilities for excursions to the Syrdaria river, the desert, the Karatau mountains, the medieval towns of Otrar and Turkestan; for camel riding and hot springs. Further tours could be organized at the end of the fieldwork (the Aral lake and Samarkand are just five hours away).
Cost: $300 per week

Email for more details:  Jean-Marc Deom

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