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Spherical Panorama of the Timurid Pavilion

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Timurid Pavilion Information

From the late 14th century CE the region was occupied and controlled by the Timurid Empire, a Turko-Mongol dynasty. This is one of the few remaining Timurid buildings at Merv. It is a small, square structure with a grand entry door and a large number of intricate and delicate mud-plaster decorations.

The pavilion is located 800m north-east of Abdullah Khan Kala and 150m south-east of Icehouse 2. It was first recorded by Pugachenkova, when two structures were still standing, the main building or pavilion and an entrance gateway or portal, 28m to the west (1958, 390). There is no trace today of this portal, even as soil marks in air photographs. The main building can be seen in the background of Cohn Wiener’s photograph of Icehouse 2, and both can be seen in Pugachenkova’s photograph (1958, 389, taken from the west). The pavilion was built on a low mound and currently stands in a large and dense reed bed next to a track and modern irrigation canal.

The Portal: the facade consisted of a pishtaq or screen with a pointed arch and a doorway giving on to an iwan in the form of a half octagon (Pugachenkova 1958, 389-90).

The Pavilion, doubtless set in a garden or orchard, is rectangular, 11.30 x 12.75m, and consists of a monumental facade on the west leading into a single square room, 7.00 x 6.95m. There are arches in each wall, presumably originally open, but later blocked and plastered. The roof was flat and would have been supported on wooden beams. Remains of a high parapet above the iwan, visible in archive photographs, had disappeared by 1998, as had the tops of the upper niches. A stairway, 1.00m wide, on the south wall led to the roof: there are still two vertical ceramic drains, square in section, 700mm wide on that wall.

The entrance iwan, 3.10 x 1.95m, is flanked by pairs of superimposed, rectangular panels containing arched niches, each with a muqarnas hood and 1.25 and 1.32m wide; these were well preserved in Cohn Wiener’s and Pugachenkova’s photographs (1958, 389). The rear wall of the iwan is in two registers, the lower one containing the central, arched opening, 1.70m wide, and the upper, an arched niche, flanked by rectangular panels with recessed niches. Traces survive of plaster decoration inside the main iwan and the side niches. The effect of two storeys is continued on both the exterior and interior walls. They are decorated with registers of rectangular panels containing recessed niches. A 2.0m wide panel over the central arches is flanked by alternate narrow and wide panels of 0.59-1.17m width. The tops of the narrow panels contain a pointed, scalloped design; the wider panels have a chamfered decoration. The decoration is plastered and painted with parts of the pink colour surviving in the south-west corner of the interior. The edges of the panels of the upper register of the exterior back wall are formed of small engaged columns.

This decoration must have been secondary, as it could only have been done after the arches in the side and back walls had been closed. These arches, 1.70 x 2.10m, are set within rectangular frames with coved plaster decoration. The south, east and north entrances were blocked with a single course of mud brick with a grey mud-plaster render. Fragments of stucco decoration survive within the south arch. The north arch was already open in 1992; the blocking of the south arch had collapsed by 1997, apart from a small section on the east. An inscription on surviving plaster fragments recorded a visit in March 1942 by a Ukrainian from the Poltava region.

The mud bricks of the main construction and the ‘blocking’ are the same size, 250 x 250 x 50mm (Pugachenkova 270 x 270 x 55mm). The foundations are yellow fired bricks, 250 x 250 x 50mm. The walls on the exterior and interior were coated with mud plaster, c. 60mm. thick. The interior was plastered with pink coloured gypsum, 150mm. thick, and the iwan and niches were also plastered. Wood was extensively used: putlogs round the interior walls suggest the use of scaffolding. Wooden beams, diameter 150mm, were used above the blockings of the arches, and slots for tie-beams, often in pairs, penetrated the walls.

Ref: Herrmann, G., 1999. Monuments of Merv: traditional buildings of the Karakum.. Reports of the Research Committee of the Society of Antiquaries of London. London: Society of Antiquaries of London

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