A. Donish Institute of history, archeology and ethnography

734025, Dushanbe city, Republic of Tajikistan, 33, Rudaki Avenue

Tel: (+992 37) 221-37-42 

The Institute was established in 1951 and is the oldest scientific institution of the Academy of Sciences. Its first director was the famous Russian historian and orientalist, academician A.A. Semenov. Later the Institute was headed by the academician Z.Sh. Rajabov (1959-1962) and B.I. Iskandarov (1962-1988). From 1988 to present, A. Donish Institute of History, Archeology and Ethnography is headed by the academician R.M. Masov.



Bogiv - fire temple


Since its inception, the Institute is a multidisciplinary research institution that develops problems in the history of the Tajik people from ancient times to the present day. At present, the institute has six departments: ancient, medieval and modern history, modern history, archeology, ethnography, science and technology, history, culture and the arts. The Institute has also archaeological bases: Kabadian, Teguzak, Penjikent-Sarazm, the latter of which in 2010 was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Currently, research at the institute is done on seven topics of fundamental nature: the history of the Tajik people, the general patterns and specific features of the historical process (the ancient, medieval and modern times), the history of the Tajik people, the general patterns and specific features of the historical process (the latest time ) archaeological study of Tajikistan; ethnography of Tajiks and other peoples of Tajikistan, History of Science and Technology of Tajikistan from the earliest times to the present day, the history of art and culture of the Tajik people, a set of historical and cultural monuments of the Republic of Tajikistan.

The most important and comprehensive outcome of the Institute's activities over the past 20 years is the preparation of book “History of the Tajik people” in six volumes under the leadership of R.M. Masov. This contains latest results of research in the field of history, archeology and ethnography, conducted by the Institute. Four volumes are already published, two more are in progress. 


Hulbuk 1,  IX-XII A.D.


In the years of independence of the Republic of Tajikistan at the Institute, dozens of monographs on history are prepared. Among of these are the series of three books of the academician P.M. Masov on one of the most important issues of regional history - the national-territorial delimitation of Central Asia and the fate of the Tajik people. In this process “The history of clumsy division (1991), “Tajikistan: the repression and assimilation” (2003) and finally, in 2008, a trilogy of all these works “Tajikistan: The story of a national tragedy” was published.

For many years, the Institute is carrying out archeological work in collaboration with the Institute of Oriental Studies, the State Hermitage Museum (St. Petersburg) and the Institute of History of Material Culture, RAS, as well as archeologists from Germany, France, Italy, Japan and China.


Hulbuk 3,  IX-XII A.D.


Archeologists have studied the complex problems associated with the origin and development of mankind and of primitive society in Tajikistan in the ancient period of history. In the Eastern Pamirs they discovered high-Stone Age and studied very peculiar Neolithic culture. About twenty of the excavated sites encompass all periods of the Stone Age from one million to five thousand years.

A collaborative work with the geologists for the first time in Tajikistan in Central Asia was carried out to bind sites of the Stone Age to the stratigraphic units of the Pleistocene. These studies allowed making it possible to substantiate the first Paleolithic periodization in Tajikistan and Central Asia.

As a result of these works in archeology, theoretical concepts of separation of Paleolithic Industries of Central Asia to the west and east, the idea of two major migrations of primitive tribes, application of mathematical and statistical methods in archeology of the Stone Age, are laid down. Tajik archaeologist, V.A. Ranov belongs to the development of chronology and stratigraphy of “loess Paleolithic” - a new direction in archeology of the Stone Age. These studies complement an extensive list of monuments of the Stone Age in Tajikistan, which showed that at a late stage of this period there was an intensive colonization of the territory of the primitive people. The previous findings that the Neolithic Hissar culture; common in the loess areas of Tajikistan, in contrast to two other historical and cultural communities of that time in Central Asia has developed its own way was confirmed. The novelty of research is the fact that the investigated monuments were in some differences in technical and typological terms, which gave reason to single out local versions of the industry in the Hissar culture. It was found that on the monuments, that are located outside the loess zone (Takht-Sangin), the industry tends to be Neolithic plains of Amu-Darya area. 


Tahti-Sangin 1


Rich immersed bronze century has reduced thousand years gap that existed between the cultures of the late Stone Age and the Bronze Age in southern Tajikistan in III millennium BC. As a result of long-term joint Tajik - French research centers of the ancient culture of Central Asian interfluve Sarazm (second half of the first half of the IV-II century BC) was able to establish a new level of generality of the ancient civilizations of Central Asia and the Middle East. 

Gidzhak 1, II millennium BC


Based on the tremendous archaeological material collected from the study of Badakhshan area of RT in the past 50 years, “The archaeological map of the Western Pamirs” was published in 2008 whereas, “Archaeological Map of the Eastern Pamirs” will be published soon. The real sensation was the discovery of Buddhist monastery; Ajina Tepe in the south of Tajikistan. An important contribution to science was the study of the history of mining and irrigation of late medieval monument, in particular of Hulbuk, Khujand, and others.

Tajik ethnographers surveyed areas of the Garm region in the basin of Surkhob within Karategin and Darwaz. Survey results form the basis of a monograph: “The Tajiks of Karategin and Darwaza” in three volumes and provide understanding of issues related to the ethnogenesis of the Tajik people and its connections with other nations similar genetically. Currently, in the Institute of Ethnography, there are over six thousand items of cultural material of Tajiks. Ethnographic collections are often exhibited in various exhibitions, both in the republic and abroad.

In 1958, Art History section started systematic collection of materials on history of culture and arts of the Tajik people. To the Pamirs, in the areas of Zarafshan Valley, Nurek, Khujand, Garm and the Bukhara region of Uzbekistan, special expedition of art history were also provided. On the basis of these materials, four collections of art were published, which in addition to the field of materials includes articles on the history of fine arts, theater, music and an album of applied art and monographs. 

Burial of Xirov

In the recent years, the Tajik art history has been enriched by the fundamental works as “Musical art of the Pamir” (1-3 v), “The theatrical and musical life of the capital of the Saminid State” by N.H. Nurjanova, “The art of wood carving of the Tajiks” by M. Ruziev, “According to the laws of beauty (sketches of decorative arts of Tajikistan” by N. Belinskaya, N. Yunusova, M. Ruziev, “The Art of Central Asia, the era of Avicenna” by L.S. Ayni, “Mavrigi” by N. Nurjanov, B. Kabilova, “Studies in the History of Tajik theory” by N. Nurjanov, “History of composing works in Tajikistan” by B. Kabilova, “The Art of the architects of the Upper Zarafshan” by R. Mukimova.


Head adornment Kosh Tillo. Khujand


Currently, the priority areas of research in the field of cultural history and art is to prepare the “Code of historical monuments of culture”, the study of music and performing tradition of the Tajiks in the ancient and medieval times, as well as the history of the formation of an acting school in Tajikistan.

In the history of science and technology of the Tajik people during the independence of the Republic of Tajikistan, detailed examination of mathematical, physical, astronomical and medical researches in international and regional research centers of the medieval East, as well as the contribution of scientists of Tajikistan in the development of fundamental and applied research during 1924-2010 was done. 


Women’s dress. garm


The purpose was the study of the level of scientific and technical knowledge of the Tajiks and their ancestors in ancient times, Middle Ages, in new and modern times, the identification of priority of Tajik scholars in various fields of exact sciences in medieval East, as well as the contribution of the Tajik science into world science.

Despite the fact that the Tajik history in the 90 years has experienced all the hardships of the socio-economic change and political upheaval, it has not only preserved the basic scientific potential, but also made great strides to study history of the Tajik people.

Perhaps the most striking example of success of the Tajik historiography in this period was the opening of the National Museum of Antiquities in 2001. Its rooms are displayed with the archaeological findings, discovered from the famous sites such as Sarazm, Takht-Sangin, Ajina - Tepa, Penjikent settlement, Shakhristan, Kurkat, Kafir Kala, etc and are replenished with new exhibits every year. In 2007, in order to make a single museum complex on the territory, the National Museum of Antiquities, Ethnography Museum, and Technology Laboratory are combined together.


Women’s suit. Istaravshan, XIX c.


In 2002, at the Institute, the branch of the French Institute for Central Asian Studies which facilitates the implementation of research projects in Tajikistan and the exchange of researchers started its operation. This helped in joint research by the Tajik, French scientists and geneticists to determine the genetic origin of the population of Tajikistan in 2005. 

The Institute has A.A. Semenov scientific memorial library. In 2003 from the archives of the Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan, funds of A.A. Semenov and M.S. Andreev were handed over to the library. The library’s fund is updated regularly with regular scientific publications of the Institute.

Currently, the institute has 85 employees including 19 doctors and 20 candidates.