Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Coins of the "Great Silk Road"


30-sum stamp depicts obverse of tetradrachm of Eucratides I, about 171-135 B.C.E.;
45-sum stamp depicts reverse of same coin;

60-sum stamp depicts obverse of silver coin of Buxoro;
90-sum stamp depicts reverse of same coin;

125-sum stamp depicts obverse of silver miri of Tamerlane 1370-1405;
160-sum stamp depicts reverse of same coin.

The first coins appeared in Uzbekistan at the end of 4th and beginning 3rd centuries BC. Up until the beginning of the 20th century coins were issued by different ruling dynasties.

From the early 18th Century Imperial Russia coins also came into use and from 1919 just after the Revolution up until the breakup of the USSR in 1991 Soviet Coins were used. Thereafter all coins in circulation have been issued by the Republic of Uzbekistan.

The coins represented on these postage stamps reflect the definite stages of coin stamping development and act as memorials of the nations history and culture with first coin of the Greek Bactrian King Eucratides I, the Second a Silver Coin of Bukhara and finally the third a 'miri" of the Great Amir Temur. The set contains 6 postage stamps showing the 3 different Coins (both the face and reverse sides). Background to each coin - dark red. The coins names are given in Uzbek below. Stamp size 42x30mm with P. comb of 14. With 36 stamps in each sheet.

Tetradrachm of Eucratides I - Obverse (Face value 30-00 Soum)

Tetradrachm of Eucratides I - Reverse (Face value 45-00 Soum)

Silver coin of Bukhara - Obverse (Face value 60-00 Soum)

Silver coin of Bukhara - Reverse (Face value 90-00 Soum)

Silver miri of Amir Temur - Obverse (Face value 125-00 Soum)

Silver miri of Amir Temur - Reverse (Face value 160-00 Soum)

Sources: and

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A history of the Amu Darya

The Amu Darya (Amu river) is 2,580 km long and drains some 466,200 sq km of land. It is formed by the junction of the Vakhsh and Pandj rivers, which rise in the Pamir mountains of Central Asia.

It flows generally northwest, marking much of the northern border of Afghanistan with Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan before flowing through the Kara Kum desert of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, and entering into channels that flow into the Aral Sea basin (not the sea itself) through a large fertile delta.  It flows swiftly until it reaches the Kara Kum where its course braids into several channels. The Amu Darya provides much needed water for irrigation, but this heavy draw on its water particularly in the last 50 years (as irrigated lands have expanded) has prevented the Amu Darya from replenishing the Aral Sea. The Kara Kum Canal c.800 km long carries water from the Amu Darya near Kelif across Southern Turkmenistan to Ashgabat and supplements the flow of the Tejen and Murgab rivers. The Amu Darya is paralleled by the Trans-Caspian Rail Road, which lessened the river's importance as a transport route.

The Amu Darya in ancient times was known in Greek and Latin as the Oxus and in Arabic as the Jayhunand. It figured importantly in the history of Persia, Sogd and Bactria and in the campaigns of Alexander the Great and was long regarded historically as the southern boundary of Transoxiana.

The Amu Darya rises in a number of turbulent headwaters; the Panj whose tributaries include the Vaksab, the Pamir Darya, the upper Morgab, and the Kulab Darya which is the source of the river. In the 9th/15th century the upper course of the river was thought to be the Vaksab, though today it is considered to be the Morgab.

The headwaters have been explored only since the 19th century, and the details provided secondhand by the 4th/10th-century Arab geographers do not accord with what is now known. Estakri named six streams, of which only the Vaksab is readily identifiable; others count the “river of Kundoz” (Dergam, Aq Saray) among the headwaters. The last stream to join the river (on the right), 1,175 km from its mouth, is the Sorkan Darya; several other rivers end in the desert before reaching the Amu Darya.

North of Balk the river enters the desert and flows on without tributaries, losing much water through evaporation. The Qara Qum lies on the left bank, to the southwest; and the Qızıl Qum stretches to the northeast, from the right bank.

The Amu Darya then flows in a northwesterly direction towards the Aral Sea; the river-mouth widenin near modern city of Nukus. The Khanates of Khiva and Bukhara lay along the lower course of the river to the 19th and early 20th centuries; in the south, the Amu Darya marked the Russo-Afghan frontier since the treaties of 1886-93, from Basaga in the west 1,100 km to Qaḷʿa-ye Panj in the east. Parts of the lower course of the river today serve as a boundary between Turkmenistan and Uzbekekistan.

The middle reaches of the Amu Darya are 3,570-5,700 m in width and from 1.5-8 m in depth, and are often in spate from April or May to July. The land along its banks, particularly the left bank has been periodically cultivated since the medieval period.

The mountainous upper reaches sometimes freeze over in winter, as do the delta and the lower course from the end of December to the end of March, to a depth of 30 cm on average.

Beyond the town of Kalef, the Amu Darya has changed its course over the centuries.

According to Ptolemy (in the 2nd century A.D.) and Biruni, the river flowed in a westerly direction from modern Kark/Kerki, not northwesterly as at present, and evaporated in the Qara Qum desert.

An ancient river bed can be detected, and still today the Amu Darya occasionally betrays a tendency to break its banks here and spill out to the left. But geological research has shown that the 350 m narrows near the modern town of Pitnyak are so old that the river cannot possibly have shifted its course there since the beginning of the known historical period.

Medieval irrigation canals, beginning just beyond the narrows, were built in the Khorezm region; canals still branch out in various directions, as far as the Soltan Uiz (Oways) Dag, and the rich agriculture of the region depends upon them.

Here, too, are located Janbas Qala, Toprak Qala, and the other pre-Islamic fortresses that were excavated by S. P. Tolstov starting in 1936.

In the 19th century it was suggested that the Amu Darya had flowed through the Ozboy into the Caspian Sea at the time of the Mongol conquest of Gorganj in 618/1221, and had turned back towards Lake Aral only about 1575.

W. Barthold tried to substantiate this thesis with historical evidence, but was disproved by Soviet geologists, who have shown that the Ozboy could never have been the lower reach of the Amu Darya, if only because of their relative size. Other evidence, including traces of the agricultural exploitation of the Ozboy bed in the medieval period, also contradicts Barthold’s view.

But still today the Amu Darya, particularly when in spate, sometimes extends a lateral channel (daryalıq) into the depression of Sarı Qamıs. The historical proofs adduced, themselves subject to varying interpretation, are not sufficient to outweigh the geological facts, yet certain zoological parallels between the Amu Darya and the Ozboy point to a connection between the two river systems, so the “Ozboy problem” is still being argued out amongst scientists.

Arab geographers refered to changes in the lower courses of the river near the Aral Sea; because of the silting up of river beds, the medieval Khwarazmian capital, Kat, was deserted, and the town of Gorganj was abandoned several times. These changes explain the rise of Khiva as the regional capital and the shifting dimensions of the delta (in Turkish Aral) that gives the sea its name.

In the 19th century the Russians settlers started to enlarge the use of the Amu Darya waters for large scale irrigation (for agricultural use) starting the process that has today resulted in the significant lowering of the level of the Aral.

Bibliography :

General: W. Barthold in EI1 I, pp. 339-42.A. Z. V. Toğan in İA I, pp. 419-26. Le Strange, Lands, pp. 433-45. Barthold, Turkestan3, pp. 64-179. B. Spuler, “Der Āmū Darjā. Eine Fluss-Monographie,” in Jean Deny Armağani, Ankara, 1958, pp. 231-48 (with more detailed bibliography). Idem in EI2 I, pp. 454-57. Bol’shaya Sovetskaya Entsiklopediya II, 1950, pp. 304-06 (with a map of the river). The upper reach: J. Markwart, Wehrōt und Arang, ed. H. H. Schaeder, Leiden, 1938. J. Wood, A Journey to the Source of the River Oxus, 2nd ed., London, 1872 (with a historical and geographical introduction by H. Yule). I. P. Minaev, Svedeniya o stranakh po verkhov’yam Amu Dar’yi, St. Petersburg, 1879. The Özboy problem: M. J. de Goeje, Das alte Bett des Oxus, Leiden, 1875. W. Barthold, Nachrichten über den Aralsee und den unteren Lauf des Amudarja, Leipzig, 1910. V. Lochtin, Reka Amu-Dar’ya i eyo drevnee soedinenie s Kaspiĭskim Morem, St. Petersburg, 1879. D. D. Bukinich, Starye rusla Oksa i Amu-dar’inskaya problema, Moscow, 1906. S. P. Tolstov, “Arkheologo-etnograficheskaya ekspeditsiya v Khorezm 1955/56 gg.,” Sovetskaya Arkheologiya, 1954-55, pp. 106-33 (also deals with the former course of the Oxus and Jaxartes). Geographical and geological information: Zapiski Imperatorskago Russkago Geograficheskago Obshchestva po obshcheĭ geografii IV, IX and XVII, XIV, XX, XXIII, St. Petersburg, 1877-81. L. A. Molchanov, “Proizkhozhdenie presnovodnykh ozyor Uzboya,” Izvestiya Gosudarstvennogo Gidrologicheskogo Instituta 13, 1929, pp. 43-57. A. S. Kes’, “Ruslo Uzboya i ego genezis,” Trudy Instituta Geografii Akademii Nauk SSSR 30, 1939. S. P. Tolstov, A. S. Kes’ and T. A. Zhdanko, “Istoriya srednevekovogo sarykamyshskogo ozera,” in Voprosy geomorfologii i paleografii Azii, Moscow, 1955, pp. 37-75.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Growth of Fish Farming in Uzbekistan

The Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources of Uzbekistan reports that some 968 enterprises and farms that are engaged in fishing and fish farming in lakes and reservoirs in Uzbekistan. The total area of which occupy some 600 thousand hectares with more than 5,000 tons of fish production.

All regions of Uzbekistan have established fish farming in artificial lakes and reservoirs. Within five years it is expects that fish production will double in Uzbekistan. In Karakalpakstan, Jizzakh, Samarkand, Khorezm, Bukhara and Syrdarya the industry has been developing at a fast rate and it is expected that fish production will double in the next five years.

Uzbekistan is using worlds best practise and utilising advanced cultivation technologies of the most productive fish species based on utilising local feed with most aquaculture enterprises run as private concerns. Currently some 10 species including carp, catfish, asp, snakehead, and trout are grown in these farms. ( 70% of all fish bred are carp - silver carp, grass carp and european carp).

The industry is working on increasing the production of catfish and trout, as well as developing technology to grow sturgeon to produce black caviar in Uzbekistan. Another promising direction in the development of the aquaculture is the creation of a network of companies engaged in fish processing and its canning and other ready-to-eat formats. Also very important for the growth of the industry is the development of more production facilities for the high-protein feeds necessary for the further development and spread of aquaculture.

Current conditions of most wild fisheries in Uzbekistan do not allow for commercial and recreational fishing without artificial replenishment of fish populations. Thus, almost all fish farms, are not just producing fingerlings for their own use but also replenishing the fish populations in many rivers and lakes.

Source: Uzbekistan Today

Monday, January 3, 2011

Devkesken - Vazir Qala

The ruins of a number of ancient towns and cities are found along of the Great Silk Road. One of the most interesting and most isolated is that of Vazir whose history dates back to VI-III century BC. Located some 100 km west of Nukus and 70 km north west from Kounya-Urgench (Northern Turkmenistan). The ruins of the town are  dramatically located on the edge of the t'chink an escarpment on a south western peninsular of the Ustyurt Plateau that projects out into the Kara Kum desert very close to the old western arm of the Amu Darya that used to run into the Sarykamysh Lake.
Map of Tartraria showing Vazir by Elizabethan merchant Anthony Jenkinson in 1558

In the middle of XVI century the Vazir citadel was the residence of Sultan Ali an early Khoresmian Khan. His successor moved the Khan’s residence to Urgench in 1573 after the Amudarya started to flow into the Aral Sea, leaving Vazir almost waterless.

The ruins of the citadel can be seen from up to 20km away. The citadel fortress was intended as a final point of defense and it still has the distinctive corrugated defensive walls. It is protected by moats and its walls are intact on three sides. Within its ruins you can still trace the relief of the beautiful cylindrical facades that were typical of the architecture of the early medieval pre-Arabic period. Next to it is a mosque built of solid stone with its arched dome supported by pillars and the egg shaped cupola of architectural ensemble of Said Madrasah built during the XIX century. Also of interest two mausoleums dating from the IV Century AD.

Archaeologists found numerous utensils: ceramic vessels with colored glaze, utensils, bronze mirrors, and ornaments ( beads made from semiprecious stones, bronze, silver, gold earrings and rings). In addition among the findings and the remains of cereals: rice, wheat, millet, buckwheat and beans.

In local language Devkesken translates into “the fortress built by a demon”. According to local folk-law once a long time ago in the regions of Daryalka and Sarykamysh (the ancient route of the Amudarya River) ruled a powerful Shah named Ekhdem. He had a beautiful daughter Shirin who fell in love with a stonecutter Farkhad who also very much in love with her. Determined to prevent the marriage but not wishing to upset his beloved daughter with a direct refusal, Edhem Shah said that he would let her marry only such a person who could build a moat around the fortress. Although Farkhad was a skillful stonecutter, such Herculean task was beyond his abilities. However Shirin had a cunning plan – Farkhad was working alone during the day, while at night-time she had her slaves continue his work. After a while Edhem Shah was told that the moat was ready. Amazed and angry he said that something was wrong and the that the moat was made by a Dev (i.e. evil spirit).

Nevertheless he had to fulfill his promise. However still determined not to let Shirin marry a commoner, the Shah resorted to trickery. He told his slaves to make the moat deeper in one place and in the morning he said: "You see, Farkhad didn't work today, it was a Dev who did it. Farkhad is a liar and I won't let you marry him!". Stricken by grief and sorrow Farkhad took his life. That explains the name of the fortress – Devkesken means "Strangled by Dev". After Farkhad's death Shirin it is said died of a broken heart. It was for them that the two mausoleums were built next to each other in the southern part of the city on the edge of the plateau.

Source:  and Wikipedia