DAŠLĪ (Dashly), oasis situated south of the Āmū Daryā, on the desert plain of northern Afghanistan, ancient Bactria, now in the province of Jūzjān ca 35 km northeast of Āqča (Ball, I, p. 84-85 nos. 256-59). Forty-one archeological sites, representing occupations from the Bronze Age to the Kushan period, have been found distributed over an area 100 km2; they were explored in the 1970s by a Soviet mission under the direction of Viktor Sarianidi. The two principal Bronze Age sites are Dashly 1 and Dashly 3.

Dashly 1 consists of the remains of a square citadel overlooking a “lower town.” After destruction of the citadel the ruins were used as a cemetery, also of the Bronze Age.

Dashly 3 comprises two large architectural complexes. The older complex has been identified as a palace. It is a fortified rectangular compound measuring 88 x 84 m; the outer defenses consisted of a double wall and in the middle of each wall a salient composed of a T-shaped corridor flanked by two L-shaped corridors. On the interior were several houses of simple plan and a large storehouse with long, parallel corridors for jars and other supplies. After its destruction this complex was replaced by a fortress, which was reconstructed several times. The second complex has been incorrectly labeled a temple. It comprises a fairly modest residence and a storehouse, surrounded by a double wall on a circular plan buttressed by square towers, which identify it as a citadel. The complex is approximately 45 m in diameter and is surrounded by closely packed houses and a rectangular outer wall measuring 130 x 150 m. Like the older complex, it must have been the official residence of a dignitary charged with administering a merchant community on the borders of Central Asia.

The tombs dug in the vicinity have been pillaged and their furnishings dispersed through the bāzār at Kabul (Amiet). These objects reveal a distinct cultural group with settlements located both north of the Āmū Daryā (Sapalli Tepe), to the west in Turkmenia (Togolok, south of the Morḡāb delta), and south of the Hindu Kush, along the perimeter of the Indus valley (Quetta and Sibri). Aside from connections with India in the 3rd millennium B.C.E., they show affinities with material from Elam at the beginning of the 2nd millennium.

See also AFGHANISTAN viii.



P. Amiet, “Bactriane proto-historique,” Syria 54, 1977, pp. 89-121.

Idem, L’âge des échanges inter-iraniens. 3500-1700 avant J.-C., Paris, 1986, pp. 190-204.

W. Ball, Catalogue des sites archéologiques d’Afghanistan, 2 vols., Paris, 1982.

G. Ligabue and S. Salvatori, eds., Bactria. An Ancient Oasis Civilization from the Sands of Afghanistan, Venice, 1988.

V. I. Sarianidi, “Afghanistan in the Bronze Period,” Afghanistan 24/2-3, 1971, pp. 26-38.

Idem, “Baktriya v epokhu bronzy” (Bactria in the Bronze Age), Sovetskaya Arkheologiya 4, 1974, pp. 49-71.

Idem, “Issledovaniye pamyatnikov dashlinskogo oazisa” (Investigations of the monuments of the Dašlī oasis), in G. l. Kruglikova, Drevnayaya Baktriya (Ancient Bactria) I, Moscow, 1976, pp. 21-86.

Idem, Drevnie zemledeltsy Afganistana (Ancient farmers of Afghanistan), Moscow, 1977.

Idem, “Le complexe cultuel de Togolok 21 en Margiane,” Arts Asiatiques 41, 1986, pp. 5-21.

(Pierre Amiet)

Originally Published: December 15, 1994

Last Updated: November 18, 2011

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