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Short history of  the archeological city Afrosiab.



     A long time ago Afrosiab was the place where the life of the ancient Samarkand people was fully developed. The territory of the Afrosiab is about 219 hectare. Archeological excavations and the study of the ancient city began at the end of the 19th century by the Russian scientists.

Later beginning from the 1965 uzbek archeologist Y. Gulyamov work with them.  City was developed in the 8th century BC. To prove this theory French-Uzbek archeological expedition which is still working in Afrosiab from 1989 excavated northern part of Afrosiab near the first defense wall. There was found uncooked, formless bricks which dates back to the 8th century BC.


Y. Gulyamov

The age of this bricks are 2750 and they belong to early iron age.  However, there were 4 fortress walls in the city like protection. Last 4th wall was build in the II century BC during Alexander the Great period by the local people. Still in some parts of the ruins of Afrosiab city we may see parts of the fortress walls with arrow sign by this we understand that they protected themselves from enemies.

          In the earliest times the territory of Afrosiab was called Sogdiana. Modern Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara together they are called Sogdiana and capital was Samarkand, here lives sogd people and they spoke in old Sogd language. Nowadays this language is dead language nobody uses it but in Afrosiab museum in some ceramic objects we have inscription in this language.

         First occupiers was Akhamanids, they  divided city into many satrapies and they ruled Central Asia about 200 years. At that time city was divided into 3. Top of the city was called Citadel and here lived rich people, middle of the city was called Shakhristan and suburbs was called Rabat of course here lived workers, handcrafts and etc.  After them begins the period of Alexander the Great than Kushan Empire, Turkish kaganat, Arab invasion and etc. till Mongolian conqueror  Chingizkhan  stops water supply which goes to the city and burns the whole city and Afrosiab has been fully destroyed, a lot of people died here but who survived they move to the south near the modern Siyab bazaar and here begins new epoch of  Temurids. Till this accident in the 11th – 13th centuries Samarkand become the capital of the Karakhanid  state.

During archeological excavations archeologist found 11 cultural layers about 24 miters below the land. By this we understand that here in the territory of Afrosiab lived 11 different cultured people. When Temur saw the ruins of the city he did not touch he says “it is holy place” owing to the fact that a lot of people died here and of course it was easier for him to build a new one than to restore old ones.

Beginning from the earliest times the name of the city was changed several times such as Samarkand, Marakand and etc. And Zoroastrian, Buddhism, Christian and Islam religions developed during appointed periods.  Nowadays it is multinational city, more than 100 nations live here.

Every year one month scientist work in the territory of old city and they are finding a lot of archeological objects and learning more about the life of the earliest people. If we consider that territory of old city about 100 % only 9-10% is excavated, still under the ground millions of archeological objects.

At that time the Great Silk Road which was about 12 thousand kilometers played a huge role in the connection of the  West to the East. In 1877 German scientist F. Rixtgofen gave the name “Silk Road” to this road. The cities of Central Asia,  Dunxuan, Yorkent, Samarkand, Bukhara, Termiz, Marv, and Sian was the great centers of trade. Moreover, Samarkand was in the center of the Great Silk Road still we call our city like “Cross roads of cultures”. From Sogdiana to China they brought wool, fabrics, carpets, jewelries and precious stones. Till nowadays carpet making fabrics work in the city.

Valuable information from which we can learn more about history of Afrosiab city is famous  “Wall Paintings of Afrosiab” that was found 1965, 200 meters not far from the Afrosiab museum. Scientist predict that there was palace of the king Varkhuman, like 2 floored palace with 30 rooms, but only one room was saved. Size of the room is 11×11, and 1970 they built the museum and during 20 years they removed wall paintings piece by piece. Each wall has its own meaning; it must be the room of receiving ambassadors because different envoys came to the king Varkhuman with special gifts from different parts of the world. One envoy who came from Chaganiyon (old name of Surkhandarya) in his dress there is a inscription 16 vertical lines in Sogdian language, by translating this sentences scientist understand that it is a room of receiving ambassadors. For example: Chinese envoys bringing silk and cocoons. In the next wall they wanted to show their close diplomatic relationship with China Tang Dynasty. By third wall we may see sacrifice day of dark grey horse and four white goose to their royal ancestors. Last wall  is not well preserved, but scholars say it must be Paradise of India or may be envoys coming from India.

In conclusion, I may proudly say that Samarkand is one of the most ancient cities of the world, that has history which dates back almost 3000 year. Every year scientist finding and learning objects, books, materials which gives us information about the history of old city.


Tuychieva Parvina

Guide of the Afrosiab museum

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