The Environment in the Islamic City of Termez (Uzbekistan)

Zooarchaeology and Anthracology of a 9th-century tannur


  • Rodrigo Portero University of Salamanca
  • Agnese Fusaro University of Barcelona
  • Raquel Piqué Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
  • Josep M. Gurt University of Barcelona
  • Mikelo Elorza Aranzadi Science Society - Aranzadi Zientzia Elkartea
  • Sónia Gabriel Laboratório de Arqueociências
  • Shakir R. Pidaev Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan



Zooarchaeology, anthracology, fuel, tannūr, Central Asia, Early Islamic period


The aim of this paper is to understand the ways of life for the inhabitants of Termez (Uzbekistan) and its surrounding environment through the analysis of the zooarchaeological, charcoal, and ceramic material found inside a domestic combustion structure (tannur) dated to the early Islamic period (8th and 9th centuries AD). The tannur was located in a manufacturing area outside the city walls of old Termez, discovered during the 2018–2019 archaeological campaigns of the Uzbek-Spanish team IPAEB. The analysis of the charcoal hints at an abundance of local floral taxa that was used as firewood. The faunal remains indicate the presence of birds, mammals and fish at the site. The zooarchaeological study reveals the exploitation of the fluvial resources through the presence of fish of the Cyprinidae family in the vicinity of the Amu Darya. The scarcity of cut marks on and thermoalteration of the mammalian remains inside the tannur lead us to believe that the presence of the bones inside the container is related to their disposal rather than the use of the oven for cooking. Finally, the ceramic items collected in the tannur belong to the same wares and types identified in the assemblages collected from a workshop area at the site and are typical of the early Islamic period.

Author Biographies

Rodrigo Portero, University of Salamanca

Rodrigo Portero is a predoctoral research fellow of the European Social Fund and Junta de Castilla y León at the Department of Prehistory, Ancient History and Archaeology of the University of Salamanca (Spain). He is a zooarchaeologist, with a focus on Prehistoric faunal remains and subsistence strategies during the Upper Pleistocene in the Spanish Cantabrian region. He has studied remains from prehistoric (El Cierro, Cova Rosa, and Arangas caves), protohistoric (La Encarnación), ancient (San Pelayo) and medieval (El Castillón and Navalahija) sites. He is a member of the PREHUSAL Research Group of the University of Salamanca and has participated in a dozen national and international research projects.

Agnese Fusaro, University of Barcelona

Agnese Fusaro obtained a PhD in Islamic Archaeology in 2014 at the Sapienza University of Rome (Italy) with a thesis on the Islamic pottery from Ghazni (Afghanistan). She is actually member of the ERAAUB team (archaeological and archaeometric research) of the University of Barcelona (Spain), and she is currently working on a project funded by Gerda Henkel Stiftung Foundation. As archaeologist and ceramics specialist, she has participated at several international projects and many archaeological campaigns in Syria, Iraqi Kurdistan, Iran, Oman, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan.

Raquel Piqué, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Raquel Piqué is Professor of Prehistory at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain). Her main research interest are the first farming societies in NE of the Iberian Peninsula; focusing on the understanding of the social organization and the use of resources among these societies. She uses archaeobotany as a tool to learn about landscapes and the acquisition and consumption of plants among different societies during the recent Prehistory. She has been the main researcher of eleven projects funded by national research programs and she has collaborated on more than twenty-five other international and national programs.

Josep M. Gurt, University of Barcelona

Josep M. Gurt if Professor of Archaeology at the Universitat de Barcelona (Spain), where he is the Head of the Departamente de Prehistòria, H. Antiga i Arqueología. Since 2006, he has been one of the directors of the International Pluridisciplinary Archaeological Expedition to Bactria and the excavations in ancient Termez. He is the founder of the Research Group of Archaeometry and Archaeology (ERAAUB), dedicated to the study of procedures and techniques for the manufacture of ceramics in the ancient and medieval world. In the last years, he has focused his research on the understanding of social and cultural change in complex societies of antiquity by means of archaeological knowledge and with a transdisciplinary approach.

Mikelo Elorza, Aranzadi Science Society - Aranzadi Zientzia Elkartea

Mikelo Elorza is member of the Aranzadi Science Society (Donostia, Spain). As a zooarchaeologist specialized in avifauna, he has studied several sites from Europe and Asia and has collaborated in different national and international projects from the Palaeolithic to the Middle Ages.

Sónia Gabriel, Laboratório de Arqueociências

Sónia Gabriel is a researcher, collection curator and zooarchaeologist at Laboratório de Arqueociências, Lisbon (Portugal). Her work focuses on the relationship through time between human and other animals in their environment, as reflected in faunal assemblages recovered from archaeological sites in Iberia and North Africa.

Shakir R. Pidaev, Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan

Shakir R. Pidaev is an archaeologist and Director of the Museum of Fine Arts of Tashkent (Uzbekistan). Since 2006, he has been one of the directors of the International Pluridisciplinary Archaeological Expedition to Bactria project and the excavations in ancient Termez.


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How to Cite

Portero, R. ., Fusaro, A. ., Piqué, R. ., Gurt, J. M. ., Elorza, M. ., Gabriel, S. ., & Pidaev, S. R. . (2021). The Environment in the Islamic City of Termez (Uzbekistan): Zooarchaeology and Anthracology of a 9th-century tannur. Journal of Islamic Archaeology, 8(1), 1–21.