Nisa Expeditions Nisa Expeditions

Italian Archaeological Mission in Old Nisa:
Report of the 2004 Season

Thanks to Carlo Lippolis who provided the text and photographs for this year's page and to Jérôme Gaslain for his assistance (August 2004).

See Old Nisa Bibliography: Publications of Centro Scavi di Torino and contributions of the members of the Italian Expeditions to Nisa.

Fig. 1 - General view on excavations, from the SW wall of the citadel 
Click on picture to enlarge 
Click on picture to enlarge  Photo by C. Lippolis 

With the 2004 campaign, the Italian Archaeological Expedition (Centro Scavi di Torino) in Old Nisa has completed research in the sector north of the Round Hall (fig. 1). Excavations in the outside corridors on the eastern, southern and western sides of the building have established some definitive statements to the general plan of the structures elaborated in the preceding years.

Fig. 2 - South corner of the building:
M1 and opening-window 
Click on picture to enlarge 
Click on picture to enlarge  Photo by C. Lippolis 

One can now see the substantial independence of the complex from the other buildings (Round Hall and Tower): the southern corridor (room 1; fig. 2) was accessible from outside (from the south) by a door opening in the middle, which directly leads into the central columned hall of the building. The two others side corridors (rooms 7 and 8), connected with the southern one, were even accessible from the porticoed façade to the north, therefore from the great courtyard in front of the building (fig. 3).

Fig. 3 - General plan of the
Red Building and the Round Hall
in Old Nisa
(in red, the most recent excavation) 

Click on picture to enlarge

Click on picture to enlarge  Drawing by Claudio Fossati 

Onto the corridors opened several rooms of different size, surrounding the central big columned hall, but none of them communicated with the hall. A particular treatment was given to the passageway to room 15, which from western corridor 8 allowed access to a small quadrangular environment already investigated in 2003: in this room were brought to light traces of a painted decorative plaster on the walls (see 2003 page). That this room had a special purpose (unfortunately, it is difficult to know what) is also confirmed by the remains of a similar painted decoration (but here in white and red vertical colored bands) on the door jambs of the entrance from the corridor (Fig. 4).

Fig. 4 - Plastered jamb door
during excavation 
Fig. 6 - Mechanical tests on
unbaked bricks 
Click on picture to enlarge  Click on picture to enlarge 
Click on pictures to enlarge  Photos by C. Lippolis 

The scanty material coming from the corridors and floor levels correspond to those attested inside the rooms and emphasize once more the presence of two or three phases of use of a certain importance (Fig. 5, 7, 8). The later one is often connected with the recovery of gypsum spheroids, evidently placed as offering or ex voto, usually against the walls or in the corner of the rooms. A structural study on the walls (and especially the original dome) of the Round Hall started in 2004 thanks to cooperation between specialists of the Turin Excavation Centre and engineers of the University of Parma: some mechanical analysis and tests have been carried out, in order to determine the strength features of the unbaked bricks of the building (Fig. 6).

Fig. 5 - Western corridor (8) with
two ancient floor phases 
Fig. 7 - Acanthus leaf from the south façade 
Click on picture to enlarge  Click on picture to enlarge 
Click on pictures to enlarge  Photos by C. Lippolis 

Excavations carried out in 2000-2004 will furnish further elements for reconstructing the building history of ancient Mithradatkart, with a series of relatively new data, especially that concerning the more ancient construction phases of the citadel. It is, in fact, the opinion of the Italian archaeologists that the building recently brought to light corresponds to one of the more ancient monumental evidence of building activities in Old Nisa: some building characteristics or the employment of building material such as wood for the stems of the columns and stone in decorative friezes (becoming rarer in the following reconstructions) support thoughts that the investigated building can be dated back to the site?s most ancient construction phase.

Fig. 8 - Metope with lion's head,
from the eastern corridor
Click on picture to enlarge
Click on pictures to enlarge Photo by C. Lippolis 

Besides works in the field, the Italian Expedition has conducted studies on materials coming from Soviet campaigns (JuTAKE) and now exhibited in the National Museum of Ashkhabad. These preliminary studies will be collected in a definitive publication concerning Italian activities and excavations in Old Nisa 1990-2004. We hope that the scientific collaboration between Italian and Turkmen specialists will continue in the coming years, including restoration works in the Museum of Ashkhabad and the opening of a new unexcavated area inside the walls of the citadel.

Fig. 9 - Schematic reconstruction of the building façade  
Click on picture to enlarge
Click on picture to enlarge Drawing by Claudio Fossati 

Results and analyses of Archaeological Mission in Nisa, Year 2004 will be added to this web page as it becomes available. Please bookmark this page and check back often. For more information you can also visit the web page of Centro Ricerche Archeologiche e Scavi di Torino.

Members of Nisa Expedition 2004 (not all members)

Click on picture to enlarge
Click on picture to enlarge  Photo by C. Lippolis 
Scientific Direction of the Project:
President of Centro Scavi di Torino
Prof. A. INVERNIZZI, University of Turin
Scientific director of the mission

Italian Scientific Collaborators:
Prof. A. BLASI, University of Parma
Structural study on the walls of the Round Hall

Members of the Expedition:
Dr. Carlo LIPPOLIS, University of Turin
Turin Excavations Center
Field director of the mission
Dr. Roberta MENEGAZZI, University of Turin
Archaeologist in Nisa
Dr. Vito MESSINA, University of Turin
Archaeologist in Nisa
Arch. Claudio FOSSATI, University of Turin
Architect in Nisa
Stefano MIRPOURIAN, University of Milan
Student in Nisa
Eng. Eva CO?SON, University of Parma
Engineer in Nisa
Mr. Giordano COLLI, University of Parma

Turkmen Collaborators:
President of the Department of Study, Preservation and Restoration of the Ministry of Culture of Turkmenistan (DSPR)
Director of the National Museum of Ashkhabad
Deputy-director of the National Museum of Ashkhabad
Deputy-director of the DSPR
Architect of DPSR entrusted with the works of maintenance and restoration in Old Nisa
Director of the Archaeological Reserve of Old Nisa
We thank all the workers that have participated in the excavations, far too many to name them all here. We make special mention of Nurj, Dawran, and Charj who have become more than efficient collaborators, but also trustworthy friends who have given us much valuable help during the past four years.

This page last updated 23 Feb 2021

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