Tales from Three Caves and a Rockshelter in Balkh Province, Northern Afghanistan

Author(s): Charles Kolb

Year: 2015


The geomorphology and archaeology of four Balkh River Valley sites near the bazaar town of Aq Kupruk (36º05’0"N 66º50’0"E) spanning the Upper Palaeolithic through Contemporary Nomadic cultures are detailed and compared. This valley served as a significant north-south corridor through the Hindu Kush Mountains, a western extension of the Himalayas, and a caravan route from the Turkestan Plain to the Bamiyan Valley and on to the Kabul River Valley, Indus and the Subcontinent. Major excavations were conducted at Aq Kupruk I (Ghar-i-Mar/"Snake" Cave), a rockshelter with a slight overhang and highly complex stratigraphy located on the east side of the river, and Aq Kupruk II (Ghar-i-Asb/"Horse" Cave), a true cave situated on the west side. Aq Kupruk III, an open-air Upper Palaeolithic campsite, was also tested and a small sondage excavated in Aq Kupruk IV, a shallow cave, which yielded ten disarticulated secondary burials and grave goods dating to the late Early to Late Iron Age. Chronologically, the longest stratified archaeological sequence anywhere in Afghanistan occurs at Aq Kupruk I: Upper Paleolithic, Epi-Paleolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Achaemenid, Early Kushan, Great Kushan, Early Sasanian, Kushano-Sasanian, Hephalites, "Early" and "Late" Islamic, and Contemporary Nomadic.

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Cite this Record

Tales from Three Caves and a Rockshelter in Balkh Province, Northern Afghanistan. Charles Kolb. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396024)


Spatial Coverage

min long: 59.678; min lat: 4.916 ; max long: 92.197; max lat: 37.3 ;