Altyn-Depe near Ashgabat

Altyn-Depe, hill of ancient town, Ashgabat vicinity

Altyn-Depe (the Golden Hill) is an ancient settlement of the Bronze Age (3,000 - 2,000 B.C.) on the territory of ancient Abiver. Today Altyn-Depe is nicknamed «Turkmen Stonehendge". Shapeless pise-walled hills of Altyn-Depe different in terms of area and height are scattered around vast territory. All these architectural symbols are interconnected by some uniform system. They form original inscriptions or patterns which are distinctly seen from above.

The ancient settlement of Altyn-Depe, Namazga-Depe, and Ulug-Depe as well as others emerged in 3,000 B.C. , and by the beginning of 2,000 B.C. they reached their highest prosperity becoming the largest centers of the first Central Asian civilization. These settlements were surrounded by mud brick fortifications with gates reinforced by powerful towers. Judging by the ruins area each of them could accommodate 11-12 thousand people. Mud bricks were used for construction of multiroom houses which formed extensive quarters divided by narrow winding streets. The center of Altyn-Depe was a monumental temple with a four-level tower of about 12 m . in height. At the top of the tower there was a sacrificial altar.

Altyn-Depe Temple architecture reminds that of Babylon and Sumer. Like many other temples of Mesopotamia the temple in Altyn-Depe was devoted to the god of the Moon. This huge complex included numerous storehouses, the house of Supreme priest and a tomb of a priestly community. All this evidently speaks that the civilization of Altyn-Depe developed in close contact with the main cultural centers of ancient Orient.

The ruins of craftsmen quarters in Altyn-Depe sprawled for dozens of meters. The fallen off arches of massive pottery forges can be seen on the place where pottery quarters used to be.

The casters of Altyn-Depe were distinguished by their unsurpassed skills. They produced magnificent daggers decorated with engraving, vessels, mirrors, pins, rings, bracelets. In the tombs located in the "nobility district" archeologists found various jewelry from gold and silver, necklaces from semiprecious stones, silver and bronze rings and signets.

The significant part of Altyn-Depe population and Namazga-Depe worked on the field irrigated by means of simple system of canals. The inhabitants of Altyn-Depe used wheel transport.