Azerbaijan Georgia Turkey Project

Tandirs (ovens) such as the two above are a common feature at sites from the Medieval Period. They were constructed from coiled clay and fired in place.

Dashbulaq is one of a series of Medieval sites found in the Shamkir region in northwest Azerbaijan. Additional sites from the same period are located at the Faxrali village in the Goranboy region and at the Lak and Hajiali villages in the Samukh region, also in the northwest. Ganja was one of the largest cities in the Caucasus during the late Middle Ages, before an earthquake in 1139 killed thousands of people. Shamkir was an important fortress on the Shamkir River and the scene of several battles during the early Middle Ages. These various sites provide examples of distinctive, localized examples of medieval society in the area. The remains of historic bridges on the Zayamchai and Shamkirchai Rivers reflect the engineering of the time. Caravans following the greater Silk Road would likely have crossed these bridges as they passed through this portion of Azerbaijan.

The Dashbulaq site is notable for the number of its archaeological layers, which speak of sequential periods of occupation, destruction, and rebuilding. The village at Dashbulaq was most active between the 9th and 11th centuries AD. Because only a small part of the village site was uncovered excavations took place only where the pipeline route passed directly through the village—it is only possible to speculate about what else might be there. A permanent settlement or town from the period might have contained a bazaar, caravanserai (inn), mosque, and madrasah (school). The excavations at Dashbulaq did, however, reveal numerous features that archaeologists would expect to see in permanent villages and settlements. These features, which also have ethnographic parallels today, include tandirs (clay-formed ovens), massive storage pits, and burial sites. Among the recovered artifacts are typical domestic items such as utilitarian ceramic cooking vessels and finer serving vessels (including a well-preserved stamped pot with an animal motif and glazed pottery in a typical Islamic style). Personal items included fragments of several glass bracelets. The stratigraphy of the material evidence also seems to indicate an initial Christian community followed by a later Islamic one. This transition seems to have occurred at some time in the middle of the 9th century. The pipeline-related excavations found six Christian graves- a relatively small amount of material reflecting this seemingly earlier Christian community at Dashbulaq. However, it is not entirely clear whether these graves belong to the same period.


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