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Short review of Ancient settlement of Akhsikent
Short review of Ancient settlement of Akhsikent
Short review of Ancient settlement of Akhsikent
Ancient Khorezm
Fortress Toprak-Kala (2-3 cc.), (4-6 cc.)
Fortress Ayaz-Kala (4-2 cc. BC)
Koy-Kyrylgan Kala, fortress and temple
Fortress of Kyrk-Kyz Kala (1-2 cc., 12-13 cc. A.D.)
Ancient civilization of thousand fortresses
Lost Khorezm
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Lost Khorezm

Many centuries ago, unknown architects erected on the territory of Khorezm impregnable fortress. And these grandiose structures have not been ceasing to amaze scientists and travelers till the present time.

Archaeologist Nariman Yusupov has engaged in archeological digging of Khorezm fortresses more than one decade. Kyzyl-Kum desert, surrounded the oasis of Khorezm, is a strange desert. Among the dunes, on the tops of rocks in the desert spurs Sultanuizdag - everywhere there are traces of human activity. There are remains of ancient canals, the ruins of large settlements and cities. Today this world is dead. The magnificent buildings of ancient Khorezm are captured by ravens, lizards and snakes. It seems that you are in an enchanted kingdom, in the country of materialized mirages ...

The territory of ancient Khorezm is often called the "Central Asian Egypt".And, I must say, this is a very appropriate comparison. Not much in the world can be found places, where on a relatively small area would be concentrated in such number of monuments of ancient architecture. There are more than a dozen fortresses. And just as the Egyptian pyramids, they are staggering man, who found himself in front of them.

A casual observer or traveler immediately asks himself many questions: how did the ancient builders, in the absence of any construction equipment, build all of these grand buildings? Due to which many buildings have survived to this day?

The age of most of them are two thousand years. The specialists of the Institute of History, Archeology and Ethnography of Karakalpakstan Branch of Uzbek Academy of Sciences helped us to find answer to our questions. Aarchaeologists Ghayratdin Hojaniyazov and Nariman Yusupov, who accompanied us, have devoted more than a dozen years to studying of defensive structures of ancient Khorezm and believe that the history of this once powerful state still has many secrets. According to them, at the beginning of our era Khorezm experienced unprecedented prosperity and true construction boom.

The principle of construction of all the fortresses of Khorezm remained the same throughout the centuries. The candidate of historical sciences Ghayratdin Hojaniyazov says:

- The river sand had to be used for the basis of the buildings. Becuase it did not miss humidity, and at the time of the earthquake played a role of shock absorber. The walls were built of large format adobe bricks, which has not lost its strength for centuries. They can be safely used in construction today too.

Almost every brick has special signs - tamga. We do not know yet what kind of signs they are. Whether they are signs of masters, or signs of the imperial family heirlooms. As a binder the wet clay was used in the construction, because it strongly held even arched ceilings, made of the trapezoidal bricks indoors.

Natural stones served as quoins between the bricks. Wood practically was not used for lack of trees in the territory, but the ancient builders, as we see, skillfully managed without it. Interestingly, at the dawn of a new era the architects were wise enough to lay on conduit to the fortress from the nearest aryk. Pipes of fired ceramic with a diameter of 50-60 centimeters served faithfully for many years.

The ancient builders truly worked with accelerated tempo. A fortress was ready in two or three months. Architects clearly knew their job and the particulars of building materials. Whether the nature gave the masters excellent raw materials, or they themselves owned some now-lost secrets of manufacturing high-strength adobe blocks and bricks, but the walls, built of the blocks and bricks, wonderfully withstood the test of time, the attack of wind, rain, 50-degree heat, the raid of the troops of Arab commander Kuteyba, who captured Khorezm in the year 712, and later the invasion of the Mongol hordes.

Many ancient fortress look like they were abandoned by their inhabitants only yesterday. And it is surprising that, despite their grandeur and good undamaged state, the very existence of these fortresses are currently known only to a narrow circle of specialists. Perhaps their undamaged state is due to that, they are located away from the well-worn roads and get to them without the help of local historians is very, very difficult. Choosing a place for the construction of fortresses is one of the historical and geographical mysteries of ancient Central Asia nowadays too. How various theories were put forward on this account! It is considered that people always wanted to live closer to the water. But the places, where the fortress are located, was difficult of access the water. At the same time near the Amu Darya there are no any major defense constructions. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the ancient inhabitants of Khorezm aimed to erect a fortress on the natural hills and along the banks of the Amu Darya, but you can not meet them here at all.

The problem of water khorezm people solved with the help of many kilometers of irrigation canals. What is the length of these structures is unknown, but the extent of the ancient building are comparable with socialist constructions like Belomorkanal. Probably, thousands of people, who worked day and night, were engaged in digging of canals in the desert.

Moreover, the construction of fortresses needed to bring to the workplace a building material - river sand and clay, which were necessary for the production of mud bricks. It is still unclear how the ancient superintendents could establish the supply of these materials, but the fact remains - the river sand and clay was continuously received through tens of kilometers. One can imagine these stretching desert caravans!

And the results of khorezm people are staggering. For example, a grand complex of Toprak-Kala (earthen city), walls of which stretch over a kilometer. It was a whole city in which historians have counted no less than ten quaters. The city began to be erected in 1 century AD. As it was built on the plain, it should be certainly surrounded by high wall to protect the city from attacks of enemy. And the wall was built with height up to 10 meters! Just imagine the scale of construction: Hundreds of people participated in the bulk work, and in parallel with this wonderful fortress was constructed on the highest place.

Arhced ceilings of interior of the fortress Ayaz Kala survived surprisingly well, despite the age of two thousand years

Another, no less majestic fortress Kyzyl-Kala (Red Town) defended the frontiers of the state in 1-12th centuries. Despite its relatively small size (65 by 65 meters), it was a hard nut to crack for the enemies. Double wall thickness of eight feet in height rose by 15 meters. Inside the fortress was a two-story, the first floor began with a 4-meter pedestal, so that rams of the assailants were not able to enter the domestic premises.

The place of the construction of the fortress was chosen especially carefully. As we have noted a preference was given to uplands, but there was following tradition too. Somewhere in the vicinity of the proposed construction places people caught and slaughtered a wild animal, and if the ancient Aesculapius had found signs of an illness in the animal, the construction did not start, believing that the same disease could strike the people, who had settled here.

Perhaps the most convenient place was chosen for the construction of the fortress Ayaz-Kala (City on the wind). To overcome the steep rise to a natural hill, where the fortress is located, is hard even for those, who are without luggage.

- This is a classic Khorezm boundary construction - says Nariman Yusupov. - Its walls are addressed to the cardinal points, and the entrance is from the south side. The explanation of this peculiarity is very simple. The south wind, which was predominant in these regions, blew out dust and sweepings from the fortress. At the same time the entrance to the fortress was not like public thoroughfare. Every Khorezm fortress necessarily had changeful labyrinth - a kind of fortress in the fortress. Entering here, the attackers found themselves in a trap and got violent resistance.

Historians assume that, the fortress Ayaz-Kala was built in 4-3 centuries BC, but, strangely enough, it was likely never used for its intended purpose. Moreover, it is considered that for some reason, the fortress was not finished. Archaeologists have found there is no evidence of people living, but found many pre-harvested, but the unused construction material. Nevertheless, the fortress, which had stood for many centuries, was abandoned recently. Its harsh grayish-pink adobe walls, with narrow slits swept loopholes, menacing towers, round and pointed arches and portals seem intimidating today.

Grand ruins enveloped by numerous legends and tales. The people still believe that many fortresses have hidden underground tunnels, guarded by evil forces, and that anyone, who tries to look for countless treasures here, should perish. Fortunately, no cases of tragic deaths among archaeologists over the years of research were noted. As for the "innumerable treasures", the scientists do not deny the possibility of future sensational discoveries. The fact is that half of numerous buildings of ancient Khorezm are currently studied. For example, the fortress Kyzyl-Kala is completely untouched object.

It is strange, but historians still know very little about the ancient Khorezm. Chronicles of the dead cities of this state have undeciphered pages, that sooner or later should be read. For example: it is hard to believe that in the early 19 th century science knew little about the ancient history of Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, and now we know about these powerful empires of the past quite a lot. Perhaps the history of ancient Khorezm eventually uncover its secrets.

Source: "Itogi"