Trans Eurasia travel

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The ice-houses and Koshk Imaret

Take the road north from Bayramaly, as if heading to the Merv Archaeological Park, but turn off it along a rough road to the cast, beyond the walls of Abdullah Khan Kala. You will come to a building believed to be a Timurid ice-house, in waste-ground some 500m to the north of Abdullah Khan Kala. Around 13m in diameter, this is a now roofless building of rounded conical form, its interior walls pierced with many beam-slots. Continuing eastwards, you will reach, north of the track, a better preserved ice-house of similar diameter, its form recalling an overturned bowl. The interior of this structure is enlivened with bands of diagonally set bricks. Most archaeologists believe that the buildings were indeed used for the storage of ice, though some sources argue that they may have been water cisterns.

Some 100m to the southeast of this second ice-house is a building known as the Koshk Imaret. This is a Timurid pavilion, which would once have lain in the heart of gardens. It is rectangular in plan, with its main, arched, entrance on the west side of the building, flanked by arched niches. Traces of plaster found on the inside of the building preserve the pink colour in which the pavilion was originally decked out. Nice.

The road continues eastwards, past a brick factory and a Christian cemetery. Another ice-house comes into sight, due south of Gyaur Kala. This is rather different in form to the others, with a taller, steeper design. Fragments of wooden beams survive in many of the slots around the internal walls. Some researchers believe that the building may date from the Seljuk rather than the Timurid period. The presence in this structure of ventilation shafts have led some to question whether it is an ice-house at all.