Ancient Merv – Turkmenistan

Three conservators at Merv

Ancient Merv, in modern-day Turkmenistan, is one of the most important cities along the Silk Roads of Central Asia. Founded around the 6th century BCE, it flourished as an administrative, trading, military & religious centre – becoming perhaps the third largest city in the world in the 10th century CE. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In autumn 2011 Heritage Without Borders undertook a partnership with The Ancient Merv Project. The partnership enabled three professional HWB conservators: Margrethe Felter, Kelly Caldwell and Stefanie White, to travel to Turkmenistan and work on the UNESCO World Heritage site at Merv.

The project aims were to:

  • Conserve small finds from past years’ excavations at Merv
  • Train local graduates and museum staff in basic conservation skills
  • Assess future conservation needs in Turkmenistan’s museums
  • Pilot the HWB model, testing methodology and practicalities

In a very successful first year of involvement, the HWB volunteers contributed to the stability and investigation of 50% of the 1300 small finds on site. They also opened a mutually beneficial dialogue with the local conservators and students in providing training.

HWB conservators at Merv In the spring of 2013, Margrethe Felter, Ciarán Lavelle and Francesca Guiducci – three HWB conservators – travelled to Turkmenistan with Ancient Merv Project team and undertook further training and conservation activities on the ground. Through its volunteers and through collaborations with Ancient Merv Project, HWB had established very good links with the Ancient Merv Archaeological Park and with the Institute of History of Turkmenistan. HWB also works with the local museums. HWB is currently working with the project to develop a long-term, 5-10 year strategy for development in the region.

We collaborate with Commonsites to announce future works. Please, click on the project widget below to see the progress:

You can read more about The Ancient Merv Research Project on the UCL Institute of Archaeology website: and on the UNESCO website:

Monuments of Merv