Achaemenid Settlements > Ulug Depe
Ulug Depe is an ancient Bronze Age site in the foothills of the Kopet Dag Mountains in the Karakum Desert of Kaka District (Kaahka) in the Ahal Province of south-eastern Turkmenistan. It covers around 13 acres (53,000 m2) and lies on a mound at a height of about 30 meters. Located near Dushak, its oldest layers are dated to around 5,000 years ago. In the early Bronze Age, Ulug Depe was a flourishing agricultural town, located on the fertile belt along the northern foothills of the Kopet Dag mountain range. In the late 1960s, the Soviet archaeologist, Victor Sarianidi revealed the importance of Ulug Depe, with the occupation of the site ranging from the Neolithic (6th millennium BC) to the Achaemenid period (1st millennium BCE).
The site has been extensively excavated by the French Center of Archaeological Excavations in conjunction with the National Department for Preservation, Studying and Restoration of History and Culture Monuments of Turkmenistan, led by Olivier Lecomte since 2001. The excavation of the site has also been joined by specialists of the state historical-cultural preserve Abiverd and archaeologists from other countries, including students of the Paris University. In 2007 the mission was joined by the Archaeological Research Laboratory and Guimet National Museum with field work funded by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is now recognized as a key site for studying the interaction between Central Asia, Elam, Mesopotamia and the Indus Civilization given its location.