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Historical Places of Ancient Khorezm and Uzbekistan

Khiva - dates back to the Antique period at the end of the 5th century BCE. Excavations revealed double brick walls with rectangular towers, complete with outer defensive works such as ditches and cover walls essentially followed the same plan as the later medieval walls of the Ichon-Qala of Khiva that can be seen reconstructed today, and encompassed an area of 26 hectares. Ancient Khiva is considered to have been one of a system of border fortresses defending the southern boundaries of ancient Khorezm. The Khanate of Khiva was established in 1511 by nomadic Uzbeks and survived until 1920. At the end of the 16th century Khiva became the capital of the Khanate. During the late 19th century tension grew between Russia and Khiva. After a number of military expeditions, Khiva became a Russian protectorate in 1887, but continued to exit largely independently until 1920 when the last Khan abdicated and the Khanate was proclaimed the Khorezm People's Soviet Republic (V.N.Yagodin & A.V.G.Betts (2006) Ancient Khorezm, UNESCO). 

The Aral Sea and Muynak - The Aral Sea was one of the world's largest inland salt seas. Today it is reduced to a bare shadow of its recent size through extensive irrigation which has seriously depleted the flow of the Amudarya and the Syrdarya, the two major river systems on which the Aral Sea depends for regeneration. Yet the sea has also gone through a considerable number of changes over many thousands of years through natural causes. The beds of the rivers are constantly shifting and satellite photograph clearly show traces of ancient river beds flowing into different parts of the sea. Sometimes they bypassed the Aral Sea altogether, turning south and west to run into the Caspian Sea. The dry river bed now runs through empty desert but archeological research has found traces of settlements along its banks, showing that it was flowing relatively recently in historical terms (V.N.Yagodin & A.V.G.Betts (2006) Ancient Khorezm, UNESCO).

Mizdakhan - is a large complex first established in the Early Antique period and reoccupied extensively in the medieval period, up to the 14th century. The ruins sprawl across the road towards Kunya-Urgench on the western border of Karakalpakstan. Medieval Mizdakhan was mentioned by Persian historians and the writings of the Arab geographers in the 10th century. The various monuments are sited on and between three small hills and the complex have a number of sectors including a citadel, an outer town and a necropolis. The oldest settlement was established on the west hill around the 4th century BCE. The town has destroyed by fire and a new town was built on top in Kushan times. Finds from the necropolis show that the city continued in use from the 5th to the 8th century CE and during this time new public buildings were constructed. From the 9th to the 11th century the city saw a period of major renaissance with the construction of a fortified citadel. During this time changes in burial practices indicate the introduction of Islam to the region. Bodies were no longer exposed before burial in ossuaries but were interred according to Muslim rites. New Mausoleum and Mosques were built, but in the early 13th Century the Mongol invasions caused a short abandonment of the city (V.N.Yagodin & A.V.G.Betts (2006) Ancient Khorezm, UNESCO).

Ayaz Kala - is one of the most spectacular fortresses in Khorezm. There are in fact, not one but three fortresses clustered together on and around a prominent hill at the Eastern end of the Sultan-Uiz-dahg range. The earliest is Ayaz Kala 1, located on the top of the hill, one of the forts along the edge of the Kyzyl-Kum Desert, providing defense against nomad raids and the Sace Lands of the Syrdarya delta to the North. Construction began in the 4th century BCE when the galleried enclosure was built. Later, in 3rd century BCE, rounded towers were added (V.N.Yagodin & A.V.G.Betts (2006) Ancient Khorezm, UNESCO). 

Toprak Kala - lies a few kilometers south of the Sultan-uiz-dagh range of hills. It is a vast ruin, still standing over twenty meters above the surrounding farmland. Ancient canal systems led water to the site from a now dry branch of the Oxus. The site is dated in the Kushan period, around the 2nd and 3rd centuries CE and was the royal residence of the kings of the Khorezm. The place at the North West corner of the settlement is one of the largest and best preserved monumental buildings of the Kushan era in Central Asia. The entire complex is built on a man-made platform 14 meters high on which rested a central square building with a series of formal chambers protected by towers. The place, having first served as a Royal sanctuary, was briefly abandoned in the early 4th century and then after some restorations, was used as an administrative citadel for the city. (V.N.Yagodin & A.V.G.Betts (2006) Ancient Khorezm, UNESCO)

Dzhanbas (Janbas) Kala - is a frontier fortress on the south east border of ancient Khorezm. It is a spectacular ruins on a slope overlooking an old branch of the Amudarya river. Many Bronze Age sites were found in the vicinity but most have now disappeared under agriculture. The fort is rectangular in plan, measuring 200 by 170 meters. It was founded in 4th century BCE and was occupied until about the 1st century CE. Dzhanbas Kala differs from most of the other fortresses in having no towers on its outer walls (V.N.Yagodin & A.V.G.Betts (2006) Ancient Khorezm, UNESCO).

Guldursun Kala - is a fortified town. Although founded in the Early Antique period, the ruins visible today at Guldursun Kala show one of the best examples of a major center of the Khorezmshah period. The site is one of the largest fortresses of ancient Khorezm. The exterior walls and towers date to the 12th century CE. Much ancient and medieval pottery and many bronze items and coins were found within the site during archeological excavations. The coins indicate that the last period of occupation is related to the year 1220, during the rule of Muhammad Khorezmshah and the time of the Mongol invasion of Khorezm (V.N.Yagodin & A.V.G.Betts (2006) Ancient Khorezm, UNESCO).

Kizil Kala - was built and occupied during the same period as the larger site. The fortress stands on level ground among canals and fields, and is nearly square in plan. It has towers on two of the four sides while the walls are well preserved and still stand 13-16 meters in height. Kizil Kala was originally constructed in the Late Antique period, 1st to 4th centuries CE, but was abandoned and then rebuilt in the 12th-13th centuries on the eve of the Mongol invasions. There is some debate about how this fortress may have been used in ancient times, with some scholars proposing that it was a garrison barracks for troops, whilst others suggest it was an early example of the many fortified manor houses that were typical of Khorezm in the early medieval periods (V.N.Yagodin & A.V.G.Betts (2006) Ancient Khorezm, UNESCO).

Chilpik Kala - is a circular high-walled enclosure on an isolated peak overlooking the Amudarya River. It is a Dakhma or Tower of Silence which was used by people of the Zoroastrian faith for exposure of the dead. The bodies were laid out under the open sky for the birds to eat. When the bones were cleared, families collected them and placed them in clay or stone ossuaries for burial. The building was originally constructed in the first centuries CE but saw a phase of rebuilding in the 7th - 8th centuries and again in the 9th - 10th centuries (V.N.Yagodin & A.V.G.Betts (2006) Ancient Khorezm, UNESCO).

Jampik Kala. The archaeologist S.P.Tolstov called Jampik Kala the most beautiful fortress in Khorezm. The earliest foundations are ancient (4th BCE - 1st CE) but the walls visible today date to the medieval period, in the 9th to 10th centuries CE. There are domestic and industrial areas within the fortress which date to the 12th to 14th centuries CE. On the Northwest side of the fortress is a palace building or citadel with walls that preserve the elegant fluted facade moldings indicative of medieval architecture in Khorezm (V.N.Yagodin & A.V.G.Betts (2006) Ancient Khorezm, UNESCO).

Gyaur Kala - was founded in the Early Antique period and continued in use until the 4th Century CE. Today all that can be seen of the fortress is the north wall and a short section of the western one. The fortress originally had a trapezoidal plan, with typical Khorezmian double walls and double stores archer's galleries, towers, and arrow slits. Only base of the eastern wall remains, while the southern side has disappeared completely, washed away by the river. The northern wall is about 200 meters long while the east and west walls were once over 400 meters long. Gyaur Kala remained in use into the Kushan period, around the 3rd century CE (V.N.Yagodin & A.V.G.Betts (2006) Ancient Khorezm, UNESCO).

Kurgashin Kala - is well preserved and some of the towers still stand up to two stores high. It is 1.4 hectares in size, and was built in the 4th to 3rd centuries BCE, remaining in use up to the 4th century CE. The fortress has a rectangular plan. The defenses are strengthened by a combination of rounded and rectangular towers. This fortress is unusual in its combination of rounded and rectangular defensive towers, with a different treatment used at each corner. The gate was in the center of the south-east wall, reinforced by a protecting barbican. Outworks complete the defenses. The site is located in a strategic position, guarding the north-east sector of the ancient Khorezmian state. According to local herders the name is derived from the Turkic word for "lead", which is supposed to have been mined nearby (V.N.Yagodin & A.V.G.Betts (2006) Ancient Khorezm, UNESCO).

Big Kirkkiz Kala - dates from the 4th Century BCE to the 7th-8th centuries CE. The site lies on the edge of the irrigated lands and forms part of the chain of frontier fortresses running eastwards from Ayaz-Kala. It was founded in the Early Antique period, saw reconstruction in the Kushan period in Late Antique times and further rebuilding in the 7th-8th centuries CE. The fortress is rectangular in plan with double walls containing a double storey archer's gallery with arrow-shaped embrasures. The walls are defended by rectangular two-storeyed towers. In the Afrighid period the area within and around the fortress was a pottery production centre (V.N.Yagodin & A.V.G.Betts (2006) Ancient Khorezm, UNESCO).

Small Kirkkyz Kala - was founded around the 4th-3rd centuries BCE and was abandoned at the end of the 3rd or the early 4th century CE. The fortification consists of western and eastern parts, abutting each other and with different plans. It was a border fortress, forming part of the system of defense at the edge of the oasis. It can be seen from Ayaz Kala 1 to the west and from Kurgashin Kala to the east, and the garrison may have used smoke signal to warn of enemy incursions. Some scholars also believe that the border fortress such as this one performed an additional commercial role as centers of trade and exchange with the nomadic peoples roaming the desert and steppe to the north (V.N.Yagodin & A.V.G.Betts (2006) Ancient Khorezm, UNESCO).

Koy-Kirilgan Kala - is the one of the most enigmatic monument of Khorezm. While today little is visible but a dusty mound, the original plan of the site consisted of a rounded, two storey building 45 meters in diameter fortified by a double ring wall with arrow slits and towers. Finds from excavations at the site suggest that the purpose of the main building was not residential. its circular plan and perfectly aligned internal chambers, as well as terracotta figurines and other artifacts, led the excavators to conclude that the building was originally constructed as a sacred building used for astronomical observations. Among the finds were also examples of some of the oldest written documents in Central Asia. The site was founded around the 4th century BCE but continued in use into the 4th century CE (V.N.Yagodin & A.V.G.Betts (2006) Ancient Khorezm, UNESCO).

Other Historical Sites. It is sometimes reported that there are 400 qalas in Karakalpakstan. We have never seen a complete inventory, but the No'kis-based archaeologist G'ayratdiyin Xojaniyazov published a list of 76 of some of the most important monuments in 2006. Certainly wherever you look on the large-scale map of the region you can find qalas - so many in fact that the majority are unnamed. There must therefore be hundreds. Indeed in the past there were even more. Many of the small forts were destroyed and ploughed over during the agricultural development of the 1960s and 1970s richardson, (richardson, d. (2019). Other Qalas. [online] Karakalpak.com. Available at: http://www.karakalpak.com/ancother.html [Accessed 6 Mar. 2019])
Kalajik Kala - The castle was built in the 4th century BC as a defensive building. There is no accurate information on who built the fortress. According to the myths, one of the mysterious figures left in history by Solomon was built in honor of his father, David.
The lake is located next to the castle, and its water content is close to the Dead Sea Water and has a useful property. Sand dunes around the lake are also famous for their useful properties.
Chorda Hovli (Khan's summer residence) -  is located on the east side of Khiva, 11 km from the town on the Yenaryiq Road. This building, which has its own shape, was built in 1871 by Muhammad Rakhim Khan as a summer residence. The four-story 30-meter building is reminiscent of a minaret with its own design. Apart from design, the building has a relatively small base, ie 16mx8m. There is a storage room and two warehouses in the basement. The first and second floors were served in the room.
Ulli Hovli (Turkmen Fortress) - The Ulli Hovli is a historic castle built around 1640-1694 as a settlement. The fortress was founded in the middle of the 1600s as a result of Turkmen migration. Apart from the main castle, fortresses called Oshak ovov and Upper ova are still present, but they have not survived to this day. Ulli Hovli is one of the oldest exhibits of the culture and lifestyle of Turkmen tribes living in Khiva Khanate. 
Sheikh Mukhtar Valiy's mausoleum was built in the Yangiarik district for the Sheikh Muhtar Val (XIV century). The mausoleum was restored in 1840. Sheikh Mukhtar governor, who was restored in 1975, 1991, 1997, 2011, is the rebels in the reign of Islam in Khorezm in the 14th century. It is the White Sheikh grandfather's hill in the ancient complex of the Khiva. According to legends, Sheikh Muhtar Valery, who lived in the 14th century, Archaeological excavations have confirmed that the hill is very ancient and re-established in the early 17th century. The ruins of the two-storied house in the hills served as a watchtower for the last-century palace. In the inner hills of the hill there was a ballroom workshop and a storehouse of storage tanks in the XIX century. The building was renovated in 1991, and nowadays tourists are watching the city through the high tent.

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