Ancient Khuttal

Photo by Walter.

Ancient Khuttal is part of the Tentative list of Tajikistan in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.

Ancient Khuttal (also included in the serial nominations “Silk Road Sites in Tajikistan” under the name of “Ancient town of Khulbuk”) comprises the remains of an ancient town of the 9th to 12th century, on a surface of 600x200 meters. It was the capital of the Bactrian Kingdom of Khuttal and one of the largest cities of that time. The fortress walls have been recently rebuilt (using modern techniques).

Map of Ancient Khuttal

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The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.

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Szucs Tamas

Hungary - 06-May-24 -

Ancient Khuttal (T) by Szucs Tamas

Hulbuk (khulbuk) has reappeared on the tentative list, and could - in principle - be incscribed in 2025. It must be said in advance that if this will be the case, it will only be due to some kind of international lobbying, and not to its own merits. (After the Tugay Forest, of course, I wouldn't be surprised - it's no less a weak nomination.) The castle walls have been totally rebuilt from the outside - in all likelihood, the reconstruction is more imaginative than scientific. When we visited the area - in the summer of 2023 - landscaping was well underway in the former lower town, but it was not restoration, but rather covering everything with paving blocks and planting trees between them. What is valuable and original has been moved to a small museum opposite the site. The museum is free of charge and, as is the Tajik custom, shoes must be removed when entering. There are some nice carvings and interesting artefacts,. It's not very big, you can walk around in about 20 minutes. The guard at the museum has the key to the castle itself (it's locked, by the way). Once inside the walls, it turns out that there is practically nothing inside. Reconstruction hasn't even started, but so little of the interior remains that even if there is a reconstruction it will be in no way authentic, so I don't know which is better, to leave it as it is or build a Tajik Disneyland instead.


Switzerland - 24-Aug-19 -

Ancient Khuttal (T) by Walter

Hulbuk is a medieval town on Southern Tadjikistan, in the village of Kurban Shaid (Pingan on google map, near Vose). It lies next to the main road from Dushanbe to Kulab (and from there to the Pamir highway).

It is on the TL as “Palace of the Governor”, but appears for to be for examination in 2020 (although incomplete) as ”medieval town”. It also appears on “Silk Roads in Tadjikistan” project, sometimes written Khulbuk, sometimes Hulbuk.

Hulbuk was the capital of the Banijuridsm, Turco-Iranian dynasty reigning ca 847 to 963, vassals of the Samanids (who ruled Samarcande) and their successors, until its destruction, probably by the Mongols.

The site consists of a citadel, which measures 170 x 60 meters, and a lower city to the north and east of the citadel. Early excavations, started in 1953, concentrate on the citadel, and the lower town has only recently been looked at.

The striking figure of this site are the walls of the citadel which have been rebuilt to their idealized size and style from 2005 on, completely surrounding the ruins. 12 meters high, with round towers and a monumental entrance portal, they do look what they are, a modern Disneyland-like reconstruction.

I briefly looked to the exterior of the site while on a tour group of the Pamir Highway. Our group leader told me that they used to include a visit to Hulbuk on their tour, but that the walls look so unauthentic that participant wanted to leave the place very quickly. I must agree with them.

So does Hulbuk stands a chance for nomination. The modern walls destroy the authenticity and integrity of the propriety, but it seems an important project for Tadjik president who used to be governor of this region. So politics might play an important role in this nomination.

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1 Votes

Full Name
Ancient Khuttal
Nominated for
Archaeological site - Near Eastern
2023 Revision

Successor to TWHS "Khulbuk – the capital of ancient Khuttal" (1999-2023)

2023 Incomplete - not examined

2023 Added to Tentative List

2021 Revision

Successor to "Palace of the Governor of Khulbuk" (1999)

2021 Incomplete - not examined

2020 Incomplete - not examined

As: Medieval Town of Khulbuk

Unesco Website: Ancient Khuttal

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Ancient Khuttal (T)


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