The cities that developed at Merv span the last 2,500 years, and together they form one of the most complex and well-preserved urban centers on the Silk Route of Central Asia. Throughout its occupation, Merv was the capital of vast empires, a trading center, and a military and administrative center. Its importance began to decline as the east-west land-based trade routes were by-passed by the growing sea trade, and eventually the city was sacked by the armies of Genghis Khan.
Spurred by the Taliban's destruction of the 1600-year-old Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan, CyArk was founded in 2003 to ensure heritage sites are available to future generations, while making them uniquely accessible today. CyArk operates internationally as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with the mission of using new technologies to create a free, 3D online library of the world's cultural heritage sites before they are lost to natural disasters, destroyed by human aggression, or ravaged by the passage of time.
CyArk works with experienced teams worldwide to record heritage sites using reality capture technologies such as 3D laser scanning, photogrammetry, and traditional survey. The resultant 3D, engineering-grade data can then be used to create highly accurate documentation drawings for site conservation and realistic visualizations for education and interpretation.
The Ancient Merv project is a partnership between CyArk and the Institute of Archaeology at University College of London, one of the largest archaeological departments in the world.
Take a virtual tour of the ruins of the Greater Kyz Kala, located on the east side of the Hormuzfarra canal in the northeast of Sultan Kala, Turkmenistan.
This earthen structure is one of four known icehouses that provided year-round ice supplies to the ancient city of Sultan Kala.
Examine varying perspectives of the ruins of the Palace within Shahriyar Ark, in the northeast of the ancient city of Sultan Kala in Turkmenistan.
Learn more about the impact of this ancient trade route on Afghanistan.
National Geographic Archaeology Fellow Fredrik Hiebert explains the significance of Afghanistan to the ancient Silk Road.