Project Sheet

Conservation of the Parthian Fortresses of Nisa

Country : Turkmenistan
Date : 2004 - 2006
Continent(s) : Asia
Theme(s) : Heritage
Program : Assistance to inscribing sites on the World Heritage List

With its ancient tell surrounded by high defensive earthen ramparts, and its impressive palace complex, the ancient Parthian city of Old Nisa is one of Turkmenistan's most significant cultural sites. Once considered a rival of Rome for control of the Near East, Parthia flourished between 300 b.c. and a.d. 300. Old Nisa is situated 15 km to the south-west of Ashgabat, and is one of the 8 "State Historical and Cultural Parks" which have been created in 1988 to protect the most significant sites in Turkmenistan. Nisa was also next on the tentative list, after Kunya Urgench, for inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Although the archaeological excavations of Old Nisa over the past 70 years have considerably enriched our understanding of the ancient Parthian Empire, they have been detrimental to what remains of the city, since the excavated elements of the site have been left exposed to the erosive rains without any conservation effort for many years. Remedial work on the exposed ruined structures has begun, under the supervision of the DPM, which has appointed the necessary staff on site and a small annual operating budget. The Italian archaeological team conducted by Carlo Lippolis is also contributing to the conservation of the site.


  • Strengthen conservation activities at the site
  • Improve on conservation practices
  • Install a soil analysis laboratory and identify suitable soil quarries for conservation works
  • Inscribe the site on the World heritage list

CRAterre only intervened twice in Nisa, in 2004 to prepare the World Heritage nomination file and in 2005 to install the laboratory. The installation of the laboratory was done with the technical team in charge of the site. 3 technicians can analyse samples and interpret the results.


  • Site inscribed on the World Heritage List
  • Site better protected
  • Laboratory equipment available and staff members trained to test the soil used for conservation


Department for the protection, study and restoration of the historical and cultural monuments of Turkmenistan, Archaeological Park of Nisa, UNESCO World Heritage Centre, UNESCO regional office - Tehran, National Commission for UNESCO - Ashgabat, University of Torino.