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Fire temple in Mele Hairam
Gurukly Depe site general view
Main altar in Mele Hairam
Water well in Mele Hairam

Serakhs Oasis


Serakhs Oasis in southern Turkmenistan is located in Tejen River delta. It is bordered by Bathyz Plateau in the south and Karakum Desert in the east. In the north and north-west a small strip of desert and steppe separates it from Tejen Oasis and tiny oases of Mayna and Chaacha lying at the foothills of the Kopet Dag Mountains. The main administrative centre of the oasis is the town of Serakhs, until recently hardly accessible due to its proximity to the Iranian border. Today, as it used to be in the past, the town serves as an important stop on the road connecting Iran and Central Asia.

The economy of the oasis is based on agriculture and pastoralism. In the past its inhabitants benefited from location on the crossroads of the trade routes linking the north with the south and the west with the east.

Monotonous landscape of the oasis is diversified by over 130 tepe, called locally depe. They are artificial mounds covering remains of the old settlements which give evidence of high population density of the oasis in the past. The largest depe is Old Serakhs preserving remains of former administrative centre of Serakhs Oasis, which was inhabited from 2nd millennium BC until 1832 when the Iranian ruler, angered by insubordination of Serakhs' inhabitants and repeated robberies of merchant caravans, attacked, conquered and destroyed the town. People who survived the massacre where resettled to nearby settlements. Returning and newly arriving groups of Turkmen people settled next to the ruins but not within the ancient depe.

History of the archaeological research in Serakhs Oasis is very short. In 1953 A.A. Marushchenko conducted excavations in Old Serakhs. In 1953-56 K. Adykov visited locations crossed in the Middle Ages by the road linking Serakhs and Merv. In 1964-1970 O. Orazov conducted survey research at a few archaeological sites and drew the first archaeological map of the region. Since 1996 the Polish archaeologists from the University of Warsaw have been working in the oasis.


  • B. Kaim, Parthian settlements in the Serakhs oasis, Parthica 10, 2008: 129-135.
  • B. Kaim, Starożytne kultury ziem Turkmenistanu, w: Turkmenistan. Historia – Społeczeństwo – Polityka, ed E. Bodio, (Dom Wydawniczy Elipsa), Warszawa 2005: 451-479.