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207. Tillya Tepe

Alternate names: Tilla Tepe, Tillia Tepe, "Golden Hill" or "Golden Mound"

Jauzjan Province. Five kilometers north of Sheberghan, among the dunes between one and two kilometers east of the road to Andkhui.

Dates:  Early Iron Age, circa 1300-800 BC (carbon 14 dating);
           Indo-Scythian, 20 BC–80 AD (stylistic evidence)

A mound circa 80 meters in diameter and four meters high, enclosed by mud-brick walls circa 1.5 meters high. Inside is a temple consisting of two halls with 15 columns and a cruciform altar. The site is possibly a very early Indo-Iranian settlement. During the early Kushan period, Tillya Tepe was re-used as a necropolis for a wealthy family. In 1978 six burials were excavated, consisting of raised wooden coffins containing burial adornments of silk, gold and silver.

Some 20,000 gold objects were recovered, consisting of bracelets, bowls, clasps, buttons, weapons, statuary jewelery, etc., representing a mixture of Indian, Central Asian, Iranian and Hellenistic styles. Other artifacts from the Mediterranean and China (products from Silk Road trade, not of local manufacture) and gold coins (one with Buddhist inscriptions, another of Parthian origin and another of Roman origin, struck during the reign of were also found.

Tillya Tepe is, by all accounts, the most important archeological discovery made in Afghanistan since the excavatation of Begram during the 1930s. Few sites from this period have been discovered intact, allowing modern archaeologists to reconstruct the ensembles worn by the deceased as they were laid into their graves. Click here to see a partial reconstruction of garments worn by the prince and princess in Tome IV.

Additional description can be found at the bottom of the Indo-Scythian History and Culture page of this resource and at the "Hidden Treasures of Afghanistan" website produced by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Source: Warwick Ball, Archaeological Gazetteer of Afghanistan, 1982, n. 1192


  36° 43' N
  36.716667° N
  65° 44' E

65.733333° E


Tillya Tepe is located at the above coordinates on JOG map 1501CNJ4116_geo.pdf  

Click here to view the Google
Earth satellite image of Tillya
Tepe site, north of Sheberghan.