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T. I. Zeymal’

Site in Tajikistan, 70 km east of Pendzhikent, where the Kum River falls into the Zarafshan. After a chance find on a high cliff (Mt Mug) of a basket containing fragments of manuscripts written in an unknown language, excavations were begun in November 1933 by the USSR Academy of Sciences and by the Tajik section. The remains of a castle (19.5×18.5 m; 7th century–early 8th) were uncovered, with a corridor on the north side providing access to five narrow (2 m) vaulted rooms used to store provisions. An upper residential storey was destroyed. The microclimate of the high location helped to preserve organic materials that would have had no chance of preservation under normal conditions. Some 500 objects were retrieved, the majority of which are in the Oriental Department of the Hermitage, St Petersburg. The 150 fragments of cotton, silk (local and Chinese), linen and woollen textiles included a few entire items (children’s stockings, socks, swaddling cloths and a purse for an amulet) and three patterned hairnets. Everyday wooden utensils included footed dishes, a ladle, cups, a large trowel, a two-sided comb, a box, willow baskets and boxes, loom fittings and brightly painted arrowshafts. A leather-covered and painted wooden shield had a mounted Sogdian warrior wearing a coat of mail and carrying a mace depicted on the outer side; the inner side was painted to resemble leopard skin (...