ANAW, village and archeological site at the foot of the Kopet-Dag mountains east of Ashkhabad in Soviet Turkestan.

i. Prehistoric period.

ii. Historical period.


i. Prehistoric Period

Of the two mounds (kurgans) at Anaw, the north kurgan contains Neolithic and Chalcolithic remains (Anaw I and II), while the south yields Bronze and Iron Age materials (Anaw III and IV). The site was extensively excavated by an American expedition in 1904 led by R. Pumpelly (Explorations in Turkestan: Expedition of 1904. Prehistoric Civilizations of Anau. Origins, Growth, and Influence of the Environment, two vols., Washington, D.C., Carnegie Institute of Washington Publication 73, 1908); Soviet archeologists have recently conducted further research (S. A. Yershov, “The Northern Mound at Anau,” Trudy Instituta Istorii, Arkheologii i Etnografii Akademii Nauk Tadzhiks koĭ SSR 2,1956; E. N. Chemykh, “A Study of the Metal of the Anau Culture,” Kratkie Soobshcheniya Instituta Arkheologii 91, 1962; V. I. Sarianidi, “Ritual Buildings of the Settlements of the Anau Culture,” Sovyetskaya Arkheologiya 1, 1962). The site is most notable for the length of the cultural sequence recovered and the unusual amounts of floral, faunal, geological, and geographical data collected by the Pumpelly expedition from the site and its environs.

Anaw I (ca. 5000 to 3300 B.C.) is late Neolithic/Chalcolithic in character. Rectangular houses were built of mudbrick and “shrine” rooms are reported from recent excavations. Pottery was hand-made; some decorated with geometric designs possibly related to Sialk II. Copper and lead were used, as were turquoise and faience. A stratigraphic and ceramic break in the sequence may correspond to a shift in subsistence patterns. The lowest ten feet of deposit yielded only wild animal bones, indicating a major reliance on hunting. In later Anaw I the ox, pig, and two breeds of sheep were domesticated, and mixed farming became the basis of the local economy. Anaw II (ca. 3300 to 2800) is a cultural continuation of upper Anaw I with some innovations. A hand-made grey ware appears (possibly related to Hissar II). Copper is more common, with larger tools now made of metal, and lapis lazuli and carnelian are introduced. Mixed farming continues, but new domesticates include the goat, camel, dog, and short-horned sheep. Though dating to the Early Bronze Age, Anaw II is culturally comparable to the developed middle Chalcolithic of Namazga II. Anaw III (ca. 2800 to 2000) is a period of economic and technological advance with Anaw culturally linked to early urban developments in Turkmenistan (cf. Namazan IV-V). Copper is abundant; lead and arsenic are now used as alloys. The last wheel and true kiln appear, and grey carinated pottery vessels imitate metal shapes. Stone stamp seals with human, animal, and geometric motifs are common; and marble and alabaster are used for vessels and ornaments. Sheep and goats are the predominant domesticated animals. Links with the Iranian plateau may be seen in ceramic parallels to Hissar III. Anaw IV (ca. 900 to 650 B.C.) is poorly preserved and separated from Anaw III by 8 feet of erosional materials. Ceramics and metals (copper, bronze, and iron) are comparable to those of Yaz I and relate Anaw IV to the Central Asian Early Iron Age.


See also V. M. Masson and V. I. Sarianidi, Central Asia: Turkmenia Before the Achaemenids, New York, 1972, pp. 11, 47, 50, 56-57, 59, 63, 98, 105, 118, 140, 159-60.

L. Vanden Berghe, Archéologie de l’Iran ancien, Leiden, 1959, pp. 7-14.

(T. C. Young, Jr.)

ii. Historical Period

Near the mounds in the area identified with the “Parthian camp” called Gatar mentioned by Isidore of Charax there is an oval fortress covering nine hectares built in the 3rd-4th/9th-10th centuries. In the early 7th/13th century the walls and the town were destroyed by the Mongols, but at the end of the 8th-9th/14th-15th centuries life in the town was on the upsurge. During the strife of the 10th-12th/16th-18th centuries, the fortress, called Bagabad, preserved its importance; agriculture was maintained, and the village of Anaw came into existence with watchtowers (ding) guarding its homes and their grounds. Anaw was known for its large mosque, which was erected, according to the inscriptions on its portal, in 860/1455-56 at the tomb of shaikh Jamāl-al-dīn by his son Moḥammad—probably Moḥammad Ḵodāydād, vizier of the ruler of Khorasan Abu’l-Qāsem Bābor, also mentioned. This monumental complex uniquely combined a commemorative mosque, the ayvān of which rose over the shaikh’s tomb, a ḵānaqāh with a hall for Sufi religious assemblies, a madrasa, and ḥoǰra for pilgrims. The ayvān contained remarkable mosaic tympana picturing writhing dragons on a background of tangled vegetation. The building was destroyed to its foundation by the earthquake of 1948.


N. M. Ba c insky, ed., Arkhitekturnye pamyatniki Turkmenii, Moscow and Ashkhabad, 1939.

V. A. Levina, “Pozdnee gorodishshe Anau,” Trudy Yuzhno-Turkmenskoĭ arkheologicheskoĭ kompleksnoĭ ekspeditsii II, Ashkhabad, 1951, pp. 344-94.

V. M. Masson, Srednyaya Aziya i drevniĭ Vostok, Moscow and Leningrad, 1964, pp. 95-118 and passim.

G. A. Pugachenkova, Mechet’ Anau, Ashkhabad, 1959.

S. A. Yersh ov, “Severnyĭ kholm Anau,” Trudy Instituta Istorii, Arkheologii i Etnografii Akademii Nauk Turkmenskoĭ SSR II, Ashkhabad, 1956.

(G. A. Pugachenkova)

(T. C. Young, Jr., G. A. Pugachenkova)

Originally Published: December 15, 1985

Last Updated: August 3, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. II, Fasc. 1, pp. 3-4

Cite this entry:

T. C. Young, Jr., G. A. Pugachenkova, “ANAW,” Encyclopædia Iranica, II/1, pp. 3-4, available online at (accessed on 30 December 2012).