Janbekov Jeyhun1, Nagmatylla Amanlyýew1
1Institute of History and Archeology of the Academy of Sciences of Turkmenistan, Scientific Researcher

The excavation of Jeytun, situated northwest of Ashgabat, unearthed a settlement atop a sand dune within the Karakum desert. The study reveals the stratigraphy and cultural layers of this ancient site, shedding light on the lives of its inhabitants during the Stone Age. The settlement, characterized by dispersed areas, presents a diverse array of artifacts related to labor, daily life, and cultural practices. The findings, categorized into tools, household items, and ornaments, contribute to our understanding of the ancient community's activities and beliefs. Despite the challenges posed by natural conditions and the passage of time, the comprehensive analysis provides valuable insights into the material culture of Jeytun.

Keywords: archaeological insights, Jeytun Settlement

Category: 07.00.00 History

Article reference:
Janbekov J., Nagmatylla A. Archaeological insights into the Jeytun settlement // Modern scientific researches and innovations. 2024. № 2 [Electronic journal]. URL:

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The settlement of Jeytun is located to the northwest of Ashgabat, 30 km away, in the zone of the first sand ridges of the Karakums. It is situated on top of a sand dune, included in one of the longitudinal chains of sand dunes. The dimensions of the dune are approximately 60 m from north to south and about 120 m from west to east. It is essential to note that the latter dimension is somewhat conditional, as part of the settlement to the west has been completely dispersed. Fragments of ceramics, animal bones, and flint items are found here directly on the sand. However, excavation results suggest that the dispersed areas were not occupied by residential houses but represented the outskirts of the settlement with garbage dumps. The dune on which the settlement is located rises about 5.5 m above the surrounding surface.

By the time of the excavations, the eastern and especially the western parts of the settlement were covered with sand deposits, about 1.5-2 m thick, which had to be removed with the help of a DT-54 bulldozer. Before this, Jeytun, partially covered by a sand ridge and abundantly overgrown with shrubs, seemed like an ordinary sand dune, hardly distinguishable from the surrounding landscape. The locals call this dune “Chakmakdash-Beyik,” meaning “elevation with stone slabs,” referring to frequent findings of flint plates on its surface. The nearby abandoned water reservoir (“kak”) is actually referred to as Jeytun. The name Jeytun was conventionally adopted for the settlement itself for greater convenience. Stratigraphic study of Jeytun showed that the settlement in ancient times was already located on top of a sand hill. The section of cultural layers near “Platform A,” practically at the northern edge of the settlement, showed a relatively small thickness of about 1.7-1.8 m. Below is yellowish sand dune. A similar figure was given by the trench laid within building No. 6, where houses with white lime floors, succeeding each other, were located almost on the same part of the settlement. Thus, the floor of the uppermost house belonging to the first construction horizon of Jeytun was discovered at a depth of 25 cm from the modern surface, with an elevation mark from the settlement’s common reference point at 140 cm. Below were eight consecutive floors with lime plaster: at depths of 160, 215, 252, 268, 278, 290, 305, and 310 cm. Additionally, at depths of 177 and 185 cm, horizontal red layers indicating some ancient levels were noted. Below the very bottom floor, a clay floor was laid, with a thickness of 10-15 cm, below which was already sand dune. However, in trench No. 1, laid in 1957 to the south of building No. 4, the thickness of cultural layers turned out to be much more significant. The selected area for the trench was 1.5 m below the reference point, and therefore, the excavations, conducted in layers of 50 cm each, practically began with the IV layer. On top, there was a layer of sand dune about 25-30 cm thick, and below began the accumulation of cultural layers.

During the excavations of Jeytun settlement, a comprehensive complex of various items related to labor and daily life of its inhabitants was obtained. There are different systems for describing materials of this kind. Typically, all found objects are divided into groups based on the nature of the material they are made from: bone, stone, ceramics, and flint. Such a system was adopted in the publication of Jeytun excavation materials from 1957-1958. Its advantages are undeniable, primarily in terms of convenience and simplicity, allowing for classification at the stage of primary research without resorting to special laboratory investigations. However, if considering not such a primary publication but a general picture of the life and daily life of the inhabitants of the studied settlement, higher-order categories can be proposed. From this perspective, all items found at Jeytun can be categorized into three main groups.

  1. Tools and by-products of labor.
  2. Household inventory, primarily earthenware.
  3. Ornaments and items of special purpose, associated with both ideological beliefs and the entertainment of ancient people.

Let’s consider Jeytun findings in this plan, placing items within the mentioned groups based on the material they are made of. It should be kept in mind that many types of items did not reach us due to natural conditions. For example, wooden or woven items have not been preserved at all. The specific history of the settlement (the departure of its inhabitants) also contributed to the disappearance of many categories of items, especially those highly valued by its ancient residents. In this regard, the complete absence of handles is indicative, despite the abundance of flint inserts, whereas at one of Jeytun’s settlements – Chopan-Depe – an excellent bone base of a harvesting knife was found.

The excavation of Jeytun has enriched our knowledge of ancient settlements in the Karakum region, emphasizing the importance of stratigraphic studies in archaeological research. The varied artifacts recovered illustrate the resourcefulness and cultural richness of the Stone Age inhabitants. While some items have succumbed to natural decay, the preservation of tools, pottery, and ornaments offers a glimpse into the daily lives, work practices, and symbolic expressions of the Jeytun community. This archaeological endeavor contributes not only to regional history but also underscores the significance of interdisciplinary approaches in unraveling the mysteries of our human past.

  1. B. M. Массон. Джейтунская культура. ТЮТАКЭ, т. Х, 1960, стр. 56-63.
  2. Ф. Коробкова. Определение функ- ций костяных и каменных орудий с поселения Джейтун. ТІТАКЭ, т. Х, 1960.
  3. Ф. Коробкова. Орудня труда и хозяйство неолитических племен Средней Азии. МИА, Ле 158, 1969.

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