Monday, November 6, 2017

The Turan Tiger

Caspian tiger (P. t. virgata), also known as the Hyrcanian tiger or Turan tiger was found in the sparse forest habitats and riverine corridors south and east of the Black and Caspian Seas, through the Pontic-Caspian steppe into Central Asia, and onto the Takla-Makan desert of Xinjiang. The Caspian tiger had been recorded in the wild until the early 1970s and is now extinct. The extant Siberian tiger is the genetically closest living relative of this recognised subspecies.  

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Djanpik-Qala (IX-XI, XIII-XIV centuries AD)

The outstanding Soviet archaeologist S.P.Tolstov, who was the head of Khoresm archaeological and ethnographic expedition in Karakalpakstan, called Dzhanpik-Kala (Djanpik-Qala) the most beautiful fortress in Khoresm.

Located 6 km to the South-East of the town Karatau some six km off the Nukus to Urgench highway (50 km from Nukus) not far from the banks of Amudarya, on the border of the Baday-Tugay biosphere reserve not far from the south western edge of the Sailtan Uvays Mountains it can be accessed by a winding dirt road (7Km) from Gayur Qala or (6 Km) off a turning on the main road.

The fortress was built on the ruins of a much early settlement dating from the 4th century BC. The towering external walls, which are seen today, date from the medieval period, the fortress itself largely built between the 9th and 10th centuries AD. The vast Djanpik Qala is irregularly shaped and protected by a double wall with an archers gallery on the second floor. A rectangular citadel is located on the highest point of settlement. Five towers located around the perimeter are still visible. From the 10th to the 14th century it became a residential zone with many workshops and stores.

 It was first sacked by the Mongols (along with most of Khoresm) in the years 1220-1.  After the invaders left there was further construction  residential and workshop zones within the fortress and once again became an important centre of craft production and trade with workshops for glass makers, weavers, blacksmiths, potters and stone carvers. Silver and copper coins and many other items indicate that it must have been and important port and trading post on the river. Artefacts indicate that the town had a sophisticated water supply and drainage system. After Amir Timur conquered and destroyed the Khorezm State in 1388, the fortress was abandoned.
On the north-western side of fortress there is a palace or a citadel with walls with elegant façade stucco moldings, typically of the medieval architecture of Khoresm. The layout of the settlement is complex extending over a large area with large level difference following the landform.

On the top of fortifications were open slots for archers protected by a low wall in the front. It is possible to walk up the stairs, located inside the wall. Five towers have survived each located about seventy (70) meters from each other. Only one tower on the eastern wall has an inner room, other towers are monolithic. There were two entrances. One entrance on the northern wall comes to an cemetery, and another on the bend in a wall from the southern side.

There are still traces of a break on southern wall, which were made during the invasion which led to the collapse of the settlement.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Lower Amu Darya River

The photo below shows the dense series of irrigation canals of the delta of the Amu Darya which are visible due to the reflection of sunlight off the surface of the water. The river provides life-giving water to crops on the Amu Darya Delta (dark green). The river originates thousand of kilometers to the southeast in the Pamir Mountains (Tajikistan/Afghanistan)  and flows across the arid Turanian plain and eventually deposits into the Aral Sea, an inland drainage basin. Before entering the Aral it forms a vast delta (see image below). The primary crops produced on the Amu Darya Delta is cotton and rice both water-intensive. The lower Amu Darya irrigated agriculture and relatively dense population. It is an ethnically mixed population being inhabited by Uzbeks, Karakalpaks, Kazakhs and Turkmen.

Photo: A satellite image of part of the Lower Amu Darya (River),