Clues from a lost city

Tashbulak dig site
Tashbulak is located on a ­high-­altitude plateau in ­Central Asia, near the Uzbekistan and Tajikistan border. It is a well-preserved site, previously unknown to the ­archaeological or historical ­community. Michael Frachetti and Farhod Maksudov, along with their collaborators, found the site under 20 inches of topsoil in 2011. (Photo: Thomas Malkowicz)

Washington University anthropologist Michael Frachetti is leading groundbreaking research on an ancient city in Uzbekistan. Lost and abandoned for a thousand years, the medieval city of Tashbulak lies buried beneath an isolated pasture high in the mountains. Before being discovered by Frachetti and his Uzbek co-investigator, Farhod Maksudov, in 2011, the well-preserved site was unknown to the ­archaeological community.

The site may reveal clues to how civilizations change when diverse communities integrate, and offer insight into how we approach global community-building in the modern age.

With grant support from the International Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability (InCEES) [formerly I_CARES], at Washington University and the Max van Berchem Foundation, a team of multidisciplinary scholars assembled by Frachetti will study the site with an additional research goal: model and track environmental changes going back more than a thousand years, in part to understand human impact on long-term climate change.

Fieldwork at sites like Tashbulak provides opportunities for WashU students to forge collaborative research partnerships with faculty and students from other disciplines and even other institutions, out in the field and back in lab.

Read about the lost city in the Source.