TAASA Archaeology in Asia Lecture Series

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Akchakhan-kala wall painting

TAASA Archaeology in Asia Lecture Series

The Akchakham-Kala Wall Paintings

Ancient khorezm was once part of the great Persian Achaemenid empire. Out of this, combining Persian and steppic influences, Khorezm developed a rich indigenous civilisation. Akchakhan-kala is perhaps the largest, and has proved to be certainly among the richest, of the sites known in ancient Khorezm at this time. The main occupation of the site has been dated to about the late 3rd century BCE to late 2nd centurt CE. Akchakhan-kala is particularly remarkable for its wealth of well-preserved wall paintings and clay sculpture. A recently cleaned painting has revealed important new evidence for Zoroastrian imagery in association with royal ritual and cult practice. This paper discussed the site and the important implications of the newly discovered monumental image.

Alison Betts is Professor of Silk Road Studies at the University of Sydney. She specialises in the archaeology of the Silk Road from the Middle East to China. For her doctoral thesis, she studied the prehistory of jordan, work which she is still involved today. In 1992, following the fall of the Soviet Union she began a collaboration with the Karakalpak branch of the Uzbek Academy of Sciences, working at the site of Akchakhan-kala, a project which celebrated its 20th anniversary last year. In 2005, she initiated a new collaboration with the Chineses Academy of Social Sciences to study the influences of the Eurasian Bronze Age on the rise of the Chinese state. This work, which is centred in Xinjiang, is ongoing. In 2015, arising out of the work in China, a new project will begin, in collaboration with the University of Kashmir, to study the Neolithic of Indian Kashmir.


11 May, 2015
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm AEST
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