Amul is the ancient and medieval site at the outskirts of the modern Turkmenabat city.
The most ancient period of occupation refers to the I-IV cc. A.D. At that time it occupied the area of about 50 ha and was a part of Kushanian kingdom. Srating from the IV c. A.D. the period of crisis is observed. After Arabian conquest Amul was revived and by the IX c. became one of the largest centres of international trade which promoted appreciable increase of the town. Amul, the capital of Middle Amudarya region, was an important transit point on the Great Silk Road. Here there were crossed two international routes – land and river ones. The land one led from Merv to Bukhara and China. Another land way led to the north, to Khorezm. The second route was Amudarya itself by which the goods from India through Afghanistan had been delivered. According to archaeological data Amul of that period consisted of shakhristan inside of which there was a citadel (ark), and outer town with 3 gates: northern, southern and eastern ones.
In 1220 Amul was destroyed by Mongols. The next significant stage of its life started in the XV c. when the town had been called already Charjui. The town plan of that period survived practically till 60-ies of the XX c.
Now the remains of shakhristan of Amul-Charjui represents nearly regular quadrangle with the area of 9 ha. It lies on the multi-meter pakhsa massif rising at a height of 21-24 m above surrounding locality. In the north-western corner of the fortress a massive ark (citadel) next to 33 m high with 5 towers is located. Territory of rabad which had surrounded the Amul shakhristan exceeded 150-175 ha.
The origin of the name “Amul” is still under discussion. It appears in the VII c. A.D. In historical literature there are found also other its names: “Amuya”, “Amuye”, “Amu”. Later the Persian abbreviated name “Amu” was applied to the Oxus-Jeikhun river which was started to call Amudarya (Amu-river), Since the late XV c. a new name of the town appears, that Charjui (or “Charkhajub – four streams”) which gradually replaces the old one. Informations of the medieval Amul-Charjui are found among a series of authors: al-Belazury (IX c.), ibn-Khordadbekh (IX c.), al-Istakhry, al-Makdisy, ibn-Khaukal (X c.), Yakut (XIII c.), Mukhammed Kazim (XVIII c.) and others.
Amul is practically unstudied in historical-archaeological respect. Prospecting works on the site was carried out by the expedition of the Institute of Turkmen Culture (1931) and by the YuTAKE (1949-50). In 1954 the YuTAKE implemented historical-topographic and stratigraphical investigations. In 1990 the Middle Amudarya expedition (A.A.Burkhanov) started permanent excavations at the Amul site.
Apart from Amul in the zone of the Middle Amudarya there are registered tens of similar multi-layer sites with next to square plan of shakhristans and citadels. They were formed finally during the Late Kushanian period (III-IV cc. A.D.) and were lost (with the exception of Amul’) after Mongolian invasion (Beshir-kala, Khoja-Idat-kala, Khoja-Gunduz-kala, Ak-depe, Arapkhana, Kekreli-depe, Kutnam-kala, Chishlen-kala and others.
During ancient and medieval times Amudarya river played a key part in the life of the population of adjoining territories as the basis of agriculture and the main transport and trade artery in Middle Asia. It was also a linking element for the peoples living on its left and right banks. Emergence and development of many pair towns-fortresses (laying on both river banks) was connected, first of all, with the favourable geographic location – in the places of water crossing. Large settlements were usually situated on the left bank of Amudarya, while small advanced posts – on its right bank. Such were, for example: Amul and Farap (then Bityk), Zemm and Kerkichi, Khodja-Idat-kala and Navidakh etc.