Ottawa, May 26 : Inspired by the fictional Indiana Jones, a British archaeologist is exploring an ancient city along the Silk Road in Turkmenistan, which was once a thriving metropolis.
According to a report by the Canwest News Service, the archaeologist in question is Tish Prouse, a native of Edmonton in UK.
Prouse candidly acknowledges that his childhood interest in archeology comes from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the adventure movie starring Harrison Ford.
His inspiration led him to Turkmenistan, where he is exploring Merv, an ancient city along the Silk Road that was once a thriving metropolis, one of the largest and most important in the region for over 2,500 years.
For Prouse and other archeologists, the interest in Merv lies in its fan-belt location in the Kara Kum Desert.
Fed by the Murghab River, which flows down from the Pamir mountain range in Afghanistan, a succession of cities were built on separate sites extremely close to one another.
First came the fortress citadel of Erk Kala, later expanded to the city of Gyuar Kala, in turn abandoned for the city of Sultan Kala. Collectively, these cities are referred to as Ancient Merv.
The fact that Merv encompasses three distinct cities makes it huge, coming in at a combined total of just over 600 hectares. The archeology remaining at the site is vast.
According to Prouse, "If the funds were available, you could employ 10,000 separate teams, with a core of 20 workers all doing their own section, and they wouldn't get in each other's way."
The trench where Prouse is working has already yielded much interest.
Along with a few prerequisite snakes, there is evidence of a Mongol sacking and the skeletal remains of an old woman with two youths trapped below a collapsed mud-brick wall.
But the most interesting aspect of Prouse's trench lies in a canal system and series of pipes discovered over the past two field seasons.
"What you've got is an amazing system of pipes which twist and lock together, fitted with resin to keep water from seeping out of the seams," he said.
"Not only that, but the clay itself is ridiculously solid, so even when it's buried and under pressure, it still functions properly," he added.