Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Tashkent to Khiva and onto Nukus (Muynak) Road Trip

  • Tashkent - Samarkand - Bukhara: mostly good. Generally 80 km/h average except in built up areas with lower speed and greater caution required on Samarkand Qarshi sector due to winding roads and hills.
  • Bukhara – Khiva: previously the first 70km or so was potholed, then there was new road all the way to Turtkul followed by more potholes to Urgench, after that it is smooth sailing to Khiva. Road however being upgraded over last year or so, now expected to be much better. Sand drifts in desert sector always an issue.
  • Khiva – Nukus – Muynak: After Nukus bumpy, but not too bad. Can do 60km/hr except in built up areas or during busy agricultural periods.
(ED: Any comments on current road conditions or other relevant information welcome below).

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Samarkand Coins found in Viking Burial Mound in Sweden

prehistoric-mound-swedenhangeArchaeologists in Sweden have confirmed that a Viking age hoard of Central Asian coins has been found in a Burial mound located in Molnby (near Uppland) north of Stockholm.  It is not the first time scientists have discovered evidence of close contacts between Viking Age Scandinavians and Central Asia. Many coins and other artifacts (found in Viking hoards) came up the Russian river systems which were used by the Vikings as trade routes.

In total archaeologist uncovered a hoard of 163 Islamic coins. Fashioned out of silver, the coins contain Arabic script and the majority were minted in Samarkand which served as a crossroad and melting pot of the world’s cultures in the middle ages. They date from the mid-10th century AD (935/36 AD) and were discovered in a much older, prehistoric mound that was erected during the Swedish Bronze Age. This is not overly surprising as such monuments were often reused during the Viking age for votive offerings. Of the 163 coins uncovered, fifty were complete, while the remainder had been snipped and chopped for use as silver bullion. A number had also been modified with holes or loops for strings so that they could be worn as pendants. The coins in their place of origin had a set monetary value, however in Scandinavia at the time lacked a monetary system and the coins were valued on the weight of their metal and as decoration. The presence of Islamic coins in Sweden is not unusual and to-date nearly 70,000 have been uncovered. This reflects the extensive long distance trade routes which once existed between the Viking world and the orient. hese were mainly focused on the Volga River and saw items such as furs, slaves and leather being exported southwards, while silver coins and exotic goods returned northwards. Why the hoard was buried in the first place remains uncertain, although according to archaeologists ‘it was believed that the riches a man buried in his lifetime would benefit the person in the afterlife
Source: Wikipedia
Photos: Arkeologikonsult 

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Extinction of the Caspian 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. First thought to have been its own distinct subspecies, genetic research in 2009 proved that the animal was closely related to the Siberian tiger (P. t. altaica). Separated by only one letter of genetic code, it is believed that the two split off from each other only in the past few centuries. Some researchers suggest that it may be possible to reintroduce the closely related Siberian Tiger to the Caspian tiger's historical range in hopes of recreating this now-extinct big cat.

Its extinction can be attributed to hunting of both tigers and their prey, habitat loss and conversion, and increased vulnerability of small populations (Sunquist et al. 1999). The last Caspian Tiger was seen in the early 1970s, and there are none in captivity (Nowell and Jackson 1996). Many reasons for its extinction include hunting, habitat loss, human population increase, clearance of vegetation for agriculture and the river riparian tungai being depleted as river waters used for irrigation. In other areas reeds were cleared to assist eradicate malaria thus depriving the Caspian Tiger of its habitat and its prey. This led to the Caspian Tiger becoming an alien in its own territory and then being was targeted and hunted down as a menace to human settlements and a threat to livestock. In addition its pelt was prized for its beauty and fetched a large price.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Antonov AN-2 Biplanes in Uzbekistan

The Special Aviation Services (SAS) was founded in 1997, initially as an arm of the national carrier Uzbekistan Airways. At present, SAS has its own air operator certificate and a document entitling it to provide MRO services, both issued by the Uzbek aviation authority. The fleet mostly comprises of Antonov An-2 biplanes and Mil Mil-8 Helicopters. In 2016 they still had 65 of AN-2 based at Nukus (Karakalpakstan), Urgench (Khorezm Region), and at Sergeli (Tashkent).  An-2s are primarily used in agriculture as crop dusters, fertilizers, and cotton defoliators and aerial mapping and more recently for tourism where passenger configured An-2Ts are used for transporting tourists to the country’s recreational destinations, including to the Aral Sea. MRO services are undertaken by Uzbekistan Airways Technics. The biplanes’ Ash-62IR engines and AV-2 propellers are overhauled in Russia, mainly at the Moscow-based DOSAAF aviation repair plant who are Antanov specialists.

The An-2 is the largest single-engine biplane ever produced.Designed as a utility aircraft tis a  multi-purpose aircraft used mainly in agricultural and commercial sectors. it was developed by Oleg Antonov, who had been an aircraft designer during the World War II. He formed his own bureau for creating multi-purpose planes, which were originally designed for the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in the former Soviet Union.

The first prototype was  flown on the August 31, 1947. It is recorded in “Guinness Book” for its 45 year production run, the longest ever for any aircraft in the world. Since 1947 some 18,500 AN-2 biplanes have been produced. It is still in service around the world, CIS countries and Eastern Europe, China, France, Greece, the Netherlands and Africa. They require relatively low levels of maintenance and in addition are straightforward to fly. According to accident statistics AN-2 is one of the safest aircraft ever produced.


Animals of Uzbekistan - Indian Porcupine

The Indian crested porcupine (Hystrix indica), or Indian porcupine, is a large species of hystricomorphic rodent (order Rodentia) belonging to the Old World porcupine family, Hystricidae. It is found through­out Cen­tral and South Asia and in parts of the Mid­dle East.

t is highly adapt­able to mul­ti­ple en­vi­ron­ments. Al­though they usu­ally favor rocky hill sides, the species can also be found in trop­i­cal and tem­per­ate scrub­lands, grass­lands, and forests. On av­er­age the  por­cu­pine's head and body mea­sure 70-90 centimetres (cm) in length, with the tail adding an ad­di­tional 8-10 cm (Prater 1965). Its hair is highly mod­i­fied to form mul­ti­ple lay­ers of spines. Be­neath the longer, thin­ner spines lies a layer of shorter and thicker ones. Each quill is brown or black in colour, with al­ter­nat­ing bands of white. Spines vary in length, with the neck and shoul­der quills being the longest, mea­sur­ing 15 to 30 cm (Gu­rung and Singh 1996).

The tail is cov­ered with shorter spines that ap­pear white in colour. Among these, are longer, hol­low, rat­tling quills that are used to alarm po­ten­tial preda­tors (Eller­man 1961). The feet and hands are broad, with long claws that are used for bur­row­ing. Hystrix indica has a coat of long spikes to protect itself from danger. Porcupines tend to be brown and grey in colour. The sharp, needle-like quills of the porcupine are about 7 cm long and can be detached very easily. The attacker of a porcupine can easily end up with sharp quills in their skin which are venomous and very difficult (not to mention painful) to extract.

Porcupines are very vocal during mating season and the gestation period is about 7 months, when only one porcupine pup is born. Newborn porcupine pups weigh around 450 g and are about 25 cm (10 inches) long. The young porcupines are not born with functional quills as they are soft and take time to harden. The porcupine pup will stay with its mother for about 6 months.


Monday, April 2, 2018

The most powerfull production helicoper in the World the Mil Mil-26

Uzbekistan issued a set of 8 postage stamps on 3 January 2012 to mark 20 Years of Armed forces of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Featured was this Mil Mi-26 helicopter of which some 50 helicopters are in the service of the nation used in search and rescue, heavy lift transport and for the movement of personnel.

The Mi-26 was the first helicopter with a single, eight-blade main lift rotor. It is capable of flight in the event of power loss by one engine thanks to an engine load sharing system. The Mi-26 has a payload of up to 20 metric tons. Its unique main gearbox is relatively light at 3,639 kg (stamped Aluminium)  but can absorb 19,725 shaft horsepower (14,709 kW), which was accomplished using a non-planetary, split-torque design with quill shafts for torque equalization. As of 2016, the Mi-26 still holds the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale world record for the greatest mass lifted to 2,000 metres  – 56,768.8 kilograms on a flight in 1982.

Source: Wikipedia

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Flamingos of Lake Sudochye

he Sudochye lake system is located in the north-east of the Republic of Karakalpakstan and is formed from several lakes (large and small Sudochye, Karateren, Begdulla Aydin, Omar Salim, Karazhar and Akushpa) near the old Aral Sea. The lake system is fed by tributaries of the Amu Darya Raushan and Priemuzyakit. and collector-drainage water. The Sudochye lakes of Muynak district with its unique nature and views attracts not only local residents but also many foreign bird watchers and tourists. Karakalpakstan is on the migration route of many transcontinental birds from Siberia and the Tundra, flying to the south and south-east, seeking warmth during the winter months and back. This system of lakes serves as a nesting site for birds, as well as a place of rest and feeding before they resume their long flights.
In the Sudochye lakes system, there are 30 out of 40 species of birds listed in Red Book of the Republic of Uzbekistan and 18 out of 20 species of birds listed in the Red Book of Species Endangered by the International Organisation for nature protection including the flamingos, which have come in the last 10 years.
Source : Uzbekistan Today