Zartepa surviving strong fortification walls with semicircular turrets rise not far from Old Termez site. As far back as the 2nd century BCE this ancient settlement was a large trading town, occupying the area of 16 hectares. The walls that surrounded the town were nine meters thick, and inside the walls there was a three-meter-wide corridor. In the middle of the eastern and western walls there were gates with formidable barbicans over them. Premises for the guards were located inside the barbicans. The thoroughfare lined with dwelling houses ran from gate to gate and cut the town into two parts. The excavation work revealed the clearly seen layout of these houses. In the northeast of the settlement there have survived the ruins of a 14-meter-high citadel with a moat around, whereas in the southeast of the town there lie the remains of palace structures.
The front part of the palace consisted of two halls. One of them had a four-pillar aivan, while the other was decorated with twelve pillars. Still surviving are the Kushan type stone column foots. In the halls there were found the fragments of clay statues, some covered with red paint and others gold-plated.
For seven centuries Zartepa was not only a center of commerce and craft but also an important religious center in Bactria. Archeologists unearthed a Buddhist chapel right on Zartepa fortification wall. Scholars believe that by the time this chapel was built, the wall had dilapidated. Several premises including living quarters and utility rooms were built in the wall. A few marble steps led to one of the rooms which served as a chapel. At the entrance there were two stone pedestals with bronze cups which were probably used for kindling the fire. The ceiling of the structure was made of wood. During the conflagration, which destroyed the town, the ceiling collapsed. In the thick layer of burned wood archeologists found the fragments of a gilded clay statue of Buddha, with only its head having remained intact. Near Zartepa lie the ruins of another Buddhist shrine called Kuyov-Kurgan.
Beyond the eastern fortification wall of the settlement, at a distance of 250 kilometers, under a small hill archeologists unearthed a stupa. The lower part of the stupa is made of mud with adobe brickwork on top. The stupa was mounted on a 2-metre-high platform aligned with the four cardinal points of the compass. In the south side there was a flight of steps leading to the top of the platform where the base of stupa, six meters in diameter, was placed. The height of the stupa itself was originally seven meters.
In the northern part of the stupa the archeologists found a secret compartment for relics. It contained jewelry, a piece of cotton fabric and a ceramic pot which probably served as a container for incense. There were also 503 golden coins minted at the court of the last Kushan kings. The researchers dated both the stupa and the chapel in the fortification wall to the same period - the 3rd century.
The ancient settlement Zartepa was periodically destroyed and rebuilt anew.
Archeologists unearthed the 5-meter cultural layer and dated four periods in the history of the town. For the last time it was populated in the early Middle Ages. But after the Arabs had conquered Bactria-Tokharistan, the settlement was deserted for good.