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Settlement of Afrasiab in Samarkand

Settlement of Afrasiab, Samarkand

The ancient city of Afrasiab (also Afrosiab), like a crescent moon, borders Samarkand on the north side. The settlement was founded in the 7th century BC and ended its existence as an active aftermath in the 13th century. Unfortunately, today from the ancient settlement of Afrasiab there is only a scattering of hills.

Archaeological research has shown that since ancient times Afrasiab has been a significant commercial, cultural and educational center in Central Asia, its borders were far beyond the area of ​​200 hectares.

During excavations, archaeologists found household utensils, jewelry, fragments of tools and unique artifacts, among which fragments of mural transferred to the Samarkand Museum of History - Afrasiab, located in the ancient city. All finds found during excavations are dumb witnesses to the life of a highly cultured civilization that inhabited the territory of modern Samarkand many centuries ago.

The beginning of archaeological research on the territory of the ancient settlement Afrasiab coincided with the accession of the Central Asian countries to Russia (late 19th century). Thanks to research, there was reliable evidence that Samarkand, long before the advent of our era, was known as the largest shopping center, in which there was a rapid trade and a rich cultural life. Markanda (Sogdian capital) - the ancient name of Samarkand, was protected from all sides by deep ravines and cliffs formed after the flood of the river.

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Excavations of Afrasiab showed that the city was cut into quarters (guzars) straight streets, paved with stone. The territory of the settlement was sheltered behind the powerful walls that covered the Shahristan citadel, handicraft buildings, local housing and temples. The powerful, high wall surrounding Afrasiab was dotted with walkways and crowned by watchtowers.

Archaeologists also performed an autopsy of the surviving residential buildings, inside which the gaze of researchers appeared beautifully painted walls. For example, one of the rooms was decorated with unusual paintings with a certain plot. Images located on the wall in three levels tell of a festive procession in which solemnly dressed women and men participate, they are surrounded by an unusual appearance of animals, as if they had come from a fairy tale.

The ruler’s palace discovered during excavations surprised scientists with huge compositions that appeared before them. One of the panels depicts a procession led by a white elephant with a poorly visible silhouette of a person, in all likelihood displaying a queen or a princess. A fairly clear image of a woman riding a horse riding in a procession was perfectly preserved. The female figure is dressed in a bright red dress, like a modern tunic, yellow chambers (harem pants), short black boots on her feet, and a light scarf draped over her shoulders and many bracelets decorating her hands complete the festive costume. Behind the female silhouettes, images of men riding camels are drawn, having military ammunition in the form of swords and short daggers. Apparently, the artist depicted a wedding procession in the picture - a bride sitting on an elephant, accompanied by a senior retinue, makes her way to the palace of her fiancé.

In addition to the numerous images on the walls, in the houses of the inhabitants of Afrasiab there are also sculptures made of wood, which survived the fire in the ancient settlement, and therefore are in a charred state. During the excavation, bas-reliefs depicting natural landscapes were discovered on the territory of the palace.

In the X century, during the formation of Samarkand and the adoption of its center of culture of the ancient East, the city was awarded the title of the first capital of the state, headed by the Samanids. The majestic palace, built for the royal dynasty, towered in the western part of the ancient city, to the south there was a suburb with its own life - residential buildings, bazaars, prayer houses, shelters for travelers. The city was supplied with water through a water supply system mounted from metal (lead) pipes. Craftsmen made Chinese paper.

In the XII century, Samarkand passed into the hands of the Karakhanids, becoming the capital of the western state. Having come to power, the new ruler ordered to strengthen the defensive wall by building a powerful fence, and in the citadel itself a new palace was built in honor of the ruler of the Karakhanids. The beginning of the XIII century was marked for Samarkand by a change of power, the city was captured by Mohammed Khorezmshah. The ruler who arrived destroyed the Karakhanid palace and built new royal chambers in its place.

In the XIII century, during the procession of Central Asia of Genghis Khan, the state of Khorezmshahs was conquered by his troops, Samarkand fell under the rule of the Mongols. The long-standing wars of Genghis Khan brought Samarkand into decline, exhausting its internal reserves, and this entailed the descent of Afrasiab.

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