The Union of Industrialists and entrepreneurs together with the Institute of history and archaeology of the Academy of Sciences of Turkmenistan received a grant from the us Ambassador Matthew S. Klimow in the amount of 195,600 US dollars for the implementation of a project to preserve underground reservoirs at the historical site of Shahrislam.
The grant was awarded under the Ambassador's Fund for cultural heritage conservation (AFCP) program.
Shahrislam was an ancient city in the Karakum desert 20 kilometers North of the city of Baharden. The city existed from the 9th to the beginning of the 15th century and was a regional center and an important stop on the great Silk road. The project provides for the restoration of two underground reservoirs (Sardob).
The us Ambassador to Turkmenistan Matthew Klimow spoke about his impression of the place of conservation works: "When I visited Shahrislam, I was amazed to see the excavations and research carried out by Turkmen experts at the site."
AFCP is the flagship program of the U.S. Embassy in Ashgabat, and through IT the United States demonstrates its long-term commitment to cooperation with Turkmenistan in the field of cultural heritage preservation.
The United States has supported the preservation of cultural heritage in Turkmenistan through AFCP since 2001. Examples of projects that have already been implemented include the restoration and preservation of the Small and Large Gyzgala monuments (Mary velayat), the preservation of the Dayahatyn caravanserai (Lebap velayat), the research, restoration and conservation of the Ismamyt-Ata monument (Dashoguz velayat); the conservation and restoration of the Muhammad II mosque in Dehistan (Balkan velayat) and the restoration of the 15th-century Seyit Jemaletdin mosque in Annau (Akhal velayat). Preserving the underground reservoirs of Shahrislam is the 27th AFCP project in the country, marking progress in the Us-Turkmenistan partnership in the field of heritage conservation. In addition, this is the first AFCP project in Turkmenistan to be implemented in an innovative format of public-private partnership.
When considering which projects to Fund, the United States Department of State compares the merits of projects from around the world. Therefore, the fact that the AFCP Committee decided to cooperate with Turkmenistan in this project proves its rich cultural value not only for the people of Turkmenistan, but also for all mankind.
The uniqueness of underground tanks in Shahrislam has great potential for tourism. The sardob’s were fed by a tunnel system (called kyariz) unique to Central Asia. Through the tunnels, water came from sources located in the Kopetdag mountains more than 20 km away. Reservoir Chorizema represent the only in Central Asia a sample of sardoba rectangular shape.
The project is intended to complete certain works on restoring sardobas and protecting them from future damage. Specialists will remove accumulated sand, restore and strengthen the portals of sardob and walls, as well as the stairs leading to reservoirs, the dome and arched ceilings above the sardob. Finally, a fence will be erected around sardob to prevent damage from rain runoff and animals. This sardoba will be saved for future generations, according to a press release from the Embassy of the United States.