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Parthian Fortresses of Nisa
Site number:
Type of site: Cultural
Date: 3rd century BC
Date of Inscription: 2007
Location: Asia, Turkmenistan, Bagyr settlement, Etrap of Rukhabad, Akhal Vilayet
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Description: The site of Parthian Fortresses of Nisa was the leading power from the mid 3rd century BC to the 3rd century AD – it is one of the earliest and most important cities of the Parthian Empire, which is illustrated through its two tells of Old and New Nisa. The fortresses have remained practically untouched for almost two millennia; unexcavated remains of an ancient civilization are still preserved, these portray a skillful amalgamation of the local, traditional cultural elements with those of the Hellenistic and Roman west. Archaeological excavations in two of the site’s areas have exposed ornately garlanded architecture, indicative of domestic, state, and religious functions. The majority of the excavations thus far have taken place at the Royal citadel, now called the Old Nisa, but the site also holds the ancient town, known as New Nisa. Enclosed by a high defensive earth rampart with more than 40 rectangular towers, Old Nisa is a 14-ha tell in the shape of an irregular pentagon; its corners are lined with great bastions. The 25-ha tell of New Nisa is bordered by almost 9m high powerful walls on all sides, holding two entrances. The archaeological remains of Nisa, found at the intersection of focal commercial and strategic axes, vibrantly exemplify the major interaction of cultural influences from central Asia and the Mediterranean. This great empire fashioned a barrier to Roman expansion whilst functioning as a key communication and trading centre between east and west, north and south. The site demonstrates to the impact of this imperial power - its wealth and culture. --WHMNet paraphrase from the description at WHC Site, where additional information is available.
  Nisa (also Parthaunisa) was an ancient city, located near modern-day Bagir village, 18 km southwest of Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. Nisa is described by some as one of the first capitals of the Parthians. It was traditionally founded by Arsaces I (reigned c. 250–211 BC), and was reputedly the royal necropolis of the Parthian kings, although it has neither been established that the fortress at Nisa was a royal residence nor a mausoleum. Excavations at Nisa have revealed substantial buildings, Mithraic mausoleums and shrines, many inscribed documents, and a looted treasury. Many Hellenistic art works have been uncovered, as well as a large number of ivory rhytons, the outer rims decorated with Iranian subjects or classical mythological scenes. Nisa was later renamed Mithradatkirt ("fortress of Mithradates") by Mithridates I (reigned c. 171–138 BC). Nisa was totally destroyed by an earthquake, which occurred during the first decade BC. The fortress at Nisa was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2007. --Wikipedia. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
Reference: 1. UNESCO World Heritage Center, Site Page.
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