Michele Minardi and Gairatdin Khozhaniyazov, The Central Monument of Akchakhan-kala: Fire Temple, Image Shrine or Neither? Report on the 2014 Field Season

General plan of Akchakhan-kala.
General plan of Akchakhan-kala.



The Karakalpak-Australian Expedition to Ancient Chorasmia (KAE) archaeological works at the “Mausoleum” of the Ancient Chorasmian site of Akchakhan-kala in modern-day Uzbekistan/Karakalpakstan resumed in 2014 after a hiatus of almost twenty years. New data on this structure, located at the exact centre of the upper enclosure of the site, underline its monumental characteristics and help to rectify and update the preliminary hypotheses presented in 2001 by the KAE. Examined in the historical context of I century B.C.–II century A.D. Chorasmia, Akchakhan-kala has proven to be a site incredibly rich in archaeological data that are enlarging our historical knowledge on this ancient polity and more in general on the Central Asian region during Antiquity. The Central Monument of Akchakhan-kala, a Chorasmian royal seat abandoned at the end of the II century A.D., from which a new perspective on Zoroastrianism is emerging, is perhaps one of the most interesting complexes related to this Eastern-Iranian region and to Zoroastrian religion.