From the shimmering deserts of Margush, drive up dusty hills to rediscover remains of an ancient world.

The first agricultural settlements were built in the Murgab River delta around 7 BC. Mountain silt, plentiful water, and favorable climate supported flourishing crops and a burgeoning economy. This state's name hasn't survived, and no written language has been found. Even so, the state was called Margush in old Iranian texts found many centuries later. Greeks changed the name to Margiana. Archaeological discoveries from north Afghanistan and Southern Turkmenistan indicate a closeness between Margiana and Baktria. Margiana stretched more than 3000 sq. Km and was dotted with 78 oases and more than 150 compact settlements. America's Boston Globe newspaper cites Margush as one the five oldest centers of the world's civilization. In eastern Kara-kum, archeologists unearthed castles and temples that compared in size with buildings in Assyria and Babylon. Remnants of the poppy and hemp were found, and was the ritual drink "Khaorna", and the worship of Zoroastrism. Gonur-depe, was the walled fortress that served as the capital of Margiana.

MargushIn 1992, an archeological joint mission found mirrors, large pins, cosmetics bottles, bronze armillas, silver ornamental objects, and more in the Murghab river delta. These objects give evidence of trade with other Central Asiatic regions.

This discovery opens a new chapter in proto-historic Turkmenistan cultures, casting light on regions like Northern Afghanistan, Southern Tadzhikistan, and Central and Eastern Iran. Similar discoveries in the Middle East have not been made for at least twenty years, the last significant ones being in the Iranian necropolises of Shahdad and Shaahr-i Sokhta. Many unauthorized excavations may unearth more discoveries.

MargushAncient Margush or Margiana and medieval Merv are the same country through different eras. Scientists presume that Zoroastrianism, the first worldwide religion, has connections with the Margush. Archeologists found four fire temples there. Perhaps suffering as a new religion's prophet, Zoroaster strolled the roads of Margush to begin his religious mission. He preached throughout Avesta's seven regions, including Mouru.

The golden age of Margush lasted from the sixteenth to the thirteenth centuries BC. The Gonur, capital of this great agricultural civilization built it on a natural elevation, was a palace fortified by a great wall. The unique architecture represents a phenomenon in ancient Oriental architecture. Near the palace was a fortified temple with white gypsum-coated walls and floors. There were several rooms where khums, great jars more than one meter in height, stood along the walls. The khums held the special Zoroastrian cult beverage khoma-saoma, made from poppy seeds or mandrake roots.

Presently, nearly 300 large and small settlements and 30 temples are found in Margush.