Near East Section Research at the Penn Museum

The Naxcıvan Archaeological Project, a joint American-Azerbaijani program of surveys and excavations, studies the north-eastern frontier of Greater Mesopotamia. Ongoing surveys reveal how the interaction between nomads, local centers and external empires created a unique political landscape in the Caucasus. Our work at Oglanqala, the largest archaeological site in Naxcıvan, Azerbaijan, analyzes economic and cultural imperialism at this fortress during the Achaemenid Persian Empire (550-330 BCE).


Oglanqala is ca. 1200BC-1900 CE. The associated survey is from ca. 5000 BCE to the present.


Oglanqala is located near the modern city of Sharur in the Naxcivan Autonomous Republic, Azerbaijan.


  • Lauren Ristvet, University of Pennsylvania
  • Veli Baxseliyev, ANAS
  • Sefer Asurov, ANAS

Project Overview

Current excavations focus on unearthing the ancient imperial palace, where some of the first evidence of writing in Azerbaijan was found and exploring a neighborhood in order to understand how imperial policies affected everyday life. Naxcıvan is one of the first projects in the least explored area of the Near East.

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