Archaeologists excavate the Bactrian fortress of Uzundara

Archaeologists from the Russian-Uzbek archaeological expedition has conducted the first excavations of the Bactrian fortress of Uzundara, a border outpost that protected ancient Bactria during the Hellenistic period.

Uzundara was part of a wider system of fortifications in the present-day Boysun region of Uzbekistan, that protected the northern borders of Bactria from raiding nomads. Data from GPR studies and tacheometric surveys has established that the fortress consisted of a main quadrangle, a triangular citadel, and an outer wall reinforced with 13 rectangular towers.

The fortress was built around the early 3rd century BC, during the reign of Antiochus I of the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire. During the reign of Eucratides I of the Diodotid dynasty, Uzundara was destroyed in a nomad assault on the Bactrian borders.


In recent excavations, archaeologists have uncovered one of the defensive towers, sections of the fortress wall, and a significant number of artefacts, which confirms that the fortress was rebuilt at the beginning of the 3rd century BC, and abandoned in the 2nd century BC.

Fragmented iron umbilicus of a firerah shield – Image Credit : Institute of Archaeology RAS

In the upper layers of the inner-wall galleries, the team excavated coins of Euthydemus I, who ruled around 235-200 BC, whilst in the lower layers belonging to the early stage, weapons and a coin of the Alexander type were unearthed. In the outer gallery of the fortress wall adjacent to the north-eastern tower, a fragmented iron umbilicus of a firerah shield was also discovered.

Nigora Dvurechenskaya from the Russian Academy of Sciences said: “Excavations have shown that the fortifications are perfectly preserved. For the first time since the destruction of the fortress, the walls of Uzundara saw the light again: we uncovered half of the corner tower, which remained two stories high, opened the passage and the fortress walls with two galleries, which survived to a height of up to three meters.”

Institute of Archaeology RAS


Header Image Credit : Institute of Archaeology RAS

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