Thursday, April 30, 2015

Tomyris warrior queen of the Massagetae

Tomyris (also called Tahm-Rayiš, Thomyris, Tomris, Tomiride, or Queen Tomiri) reigned over the Massagetae, a Scythian pastoral-nomadic confederation of Central Asia. She  is most famous for leading her armies to defend her nation against attack by Cyrus the Great (the founder of the Achaemenid Empire).
In the year 530 B.C  Cyrus the Great's army invaded the Scythian lands. Cyrus who had already beaten the Babylonians was riding high on his power and might and didn't take into consideration that the leader of the Massagetae Tomyris was a woman of such indomitable spirit.

According to the accounts of Greek historians, Cyrus was victorious in his initial assault on the Massagetae. His advisers suggested laying a trap for the pursuing Scythians: the Persians left behind them an apparently abandoned camp, containing a rich supply of food and wine. The pastoral Scythians were not used to drinking wine—"their favoured intoxicant was fermented mare's milk"—and they drank themselves into a stupor.

The Persians attacked while their opponents were incapacitated, defeating the Massagetae forces, and capturing Tomyris' son, Spargapises, the general of her army. Of the one third of the Massagetae forces that fought, there were more captured than killed. According to Herodotus, Spargagises coaxed Cyrus into removing his bonds, thus allowing him to commit suicide while in Persian captivity.

Tomyris sent a message to Cyrus denouncing his treachery, and with all her forces, challenged him to a second battle. Tomyris, in a rage, donned a golden helmet, picked up her favourite brass battle-axe and rode out at the front of a new group of warriors. The fight at close quarters lasted a long time, but the Massagetae ultimately got the upper hand, and the Persians were defeated with high casualties. Cyrus was killed and Tomyris had his corpse beheaded and then crucified, and shoved his head into a wineskin filled with human blood.

She was reportedly quoted as saying, "I warned you that I would quench your thirst for blood, and so I shall" records the Greek historian Herodotus (484 to 425 BC) who was the earliest of the classical writers to give an account of her career. Others Strabo, Polyaenus, Cassiodorus, and Jordanes all wrote of the great legendary Queen who defeated Cyrus the Great.

The history (legend) of Tomyris has also been incorporated into the tradition of Western art; Rubens, Allegrini, Luca Ferrari, Mattia Preti, Gustave Moreau and the sculptor Severo Calzetta da Ravenna are among the many artists who have portrayed events of her defeat of Cyrus and his armies.

More recently Toʻmarisning Koʻzlari (The Eyes of Tomyris) was published (1984) a book of poems and stories by Uzbek author Xurshid Davron and in 1996 Toʻmarisning Aytgani (The Sayings of Tomyris) a  book of poetry by Uzbek poet Halima Xudoyberdiyeva.

In Khazakhstan they have produced a 100 Tenge silver proof coin featuring Tomyris (See the obverse of the coin to the left).

The name "Tomyris" has also been adopted into zoological taxonomy, for the tomyris species-group of Central Asian Lepidoptera and has been used to name a minor planet.

The first name Tomris or Toʻmaris has also become a popular girls name in Central Asia and Turkey.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Плато Устюрт (Plato Ustyurt)

Площадь ок. 200 000 км². Основной ландшафт представляет собой глинистую полынную и полынно-солянковую пустыни, юго-восточная часть плато — глинисто-щебнистая пустыня.Большая часть этого плато покрыта растительностью, переходной от подзоны северных (полынно-солянковых) пустынь к подзоне южных (эфемерово-полынных) пустынь.

 Очень часто именно плато Устюрт называют границей разделяющей Азию и Европу. Плато Устюрт занимает огромные пространства между Аральским и Каспийским морями и имеет характерную особенность: чинк — крутой труднодоступный обрыв высотой около 150 м (Восточный чинк, обращенный в сторону Арала, достигает 190 м).

По мнению ученых, плато Устюрт – это дно высохшего моря, которое существовало в этих местах в начале и середине кайнозойской эры (21 млн лет назад). Об этом свидетельствуют вкрапления ракушек в известняке, а также железомарганцевые конкреции, наподобие бильярдных шаров, разбросанные по всему плато. Эти "шары" формировались на дне моря, а потом, как более устойчивые к выветриванию, оказались на поверхности, когда окружающие их известняки и доломиты были размыты водой. Ровный пустынный рельеф, прерывающийся меловыми отложениями в виде скал и, появляющихся тут и там трещин похож на марсианский пейзаж из голливудского фильма и кажется, что по невероятной случайности вы исследуете иную, незнакомую планету.

Особенно красиво плато Устюрт во время закатов и рассветов. Меловые скалы во время закатов и рассветов представляют впечатляющую картину, когда белые скальные породы окрашиваются в багряные цвета. Флора и фауна Устюрта открывается глазам путешественников не сразу. Постепенно, привыкая к необычным природным условиям, можно заметить колонии песчанок, сусликов и тушканчиков. Здесь обитает большое количество хищных птиц — грифов и орлов, которые гордо восседают на скалах чинка. Так же можно увидеть сайгаков, хотя вряд ли фотолюбителям удастся запечатлеть на камеру этих пугливых и очень быстрых животных.

Зато путешественники могут сфотографировать устюртских архаров в естественной среде обитания. Что более всего удивляет так это наличие на плато Устюрт диких лошадей. но лошади одичали и прижились на плато, где и обитают до сих пор.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Stone Guards of the Ustyurt


For many centuries, the Ustyurt has been a crossroads of civilizations it has retained traces of neolith man, Scythians, Massagets,  Mongols and others.  It  is shared between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan stretching from Mangyshlak and the Gulf of Kara Bogaz Gol on the Caspian in the west to the Aral Sea and Amudarya River delta in the east.
The Great Silk Road passed through this area, an ancient caravan route – Khorezm Shahs road that connected the ancient city of Khiva with the lower reaches of the Volga, it reflected by the ancient cemeteries, mausoleums and other archaeological ruins scattered across the plateau including some 60 sites dating back to the Neolithic period.

Archaeologists have discovered several sacred sites in the Western areas of the Ustyurt Plateau located on hills or hill-like embankments. One site containing a large number of sculptures of male warriors and sacrificial altars about 50 km from the village of Sai-Utes (on the Kazakhstan side of the Ustyurt).

Stone Guards of the Ustyurt

Known as the Bayte Cult complexes it consists of large burial mounds, sacrifice tables and giant stone sculptures of men in fighting outfit which over time most of whom have been removed or fallen down and damaged. The statues were placed towards the north west, the direction of dawn, or the mythical “Land of the Dead”, where the cold and the darkness lived. From an examination of the finds in particular the weapons and ornaments archaeologists  believe that they belong to the Dahae-Massageteans of the second half of the 4th - 3rd centuries BC.

Their apparel and accessories a broad leather belt with a metal buckle, sometimes decorated with embroidery or applications. A double edged sword in a sheath at the front belt, pending by two straps, a quiver fixed on the left side of the belt, and a bow and a dagger positioned close to the warrior's hand (suitable for hunting)  were worn at the hip by one or two straps.

Stone Guard located in Aktau Museum

An extension at the end of the sheath, or a couple of ledges attached to the bottom part of the cover, prevented the dagger from falling out. A semi  spherical leather helmet protected the head and neck of these nomad warriors.

Precious metal objects revealed the high social status of their bearers. Persons of higher rank (both men and women) wore gold jewellery, including bracelets, earrings and ornamented decorative trinkets. They also decorated their horses harnesses with silver badges and beads.

Sculpture illustrates a standing male whose right arm is lowered and whose left arm is pressed against his stomach (right).

The faces are full of expression, with almond-shaped eyes, a forehead clearly separated from the face and a straight longitudinal nose with a thin, pendant moustache and a small mouth.
Although the majority of sculptures reflect Caucasian facial features others have a broad and flat face and lack beards or defined cheekbones that are characteristically mongoloid (left).

The Dakhae Massagetae

In the early Iron Age from the 7th to 3rd centuries BC the Massagetae also known by historians as the Dakhi or Dai settled between Lake Aral Lake and the eastern region at the Caspian Sea. They spoke an Indo-Iranian language and exerted a major influence over the adjoining steppe lands.  

When in the IV century BC Alexander the Great came to the lands of Central Asia, they were among the most implacable enemies of the new invaders. Like other Scythian warriors they were feared for their belligerence and love of freedom and fought both on horseback and on foot, their weapons consisted of bows, spears, daggers and battle axes. They worshiped the sun and believed in life after death, and built sanctuaries of their ancestors and preserved them. At peace they returned to their lives as nomadic hunters who wandered around with their herds.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Geology of the Ustyurt

The Ustyurt is a low plateau located between the Mangyshlak and the Gulf of Kara-Bogaz-Gol on the Caspian Sea in the west, the Aral Sea and Amu Darya delta in the east. It has a total area of about 200 000 km², with an average elevation of 150 meters. It's highest point rises to a maximum of 365 m in the southwest. It consists of Sarmatian limestones (See below); its edges are separated from adjacent territories by steep scarps, sometimes by vertical slopes, while the surface is flat, stony and gypsiferous. It's chalk rocks make an impressive sight at sunrise and sunset, when the white colour of the rocks are translated into shades of purple. At its margins it drops steeply to the Aral Sea and the surrounding plain. Its most characteristic features is the escarpment known as the Chink', a steep inaccessible slope with the height of about 190 m facing towards the Aral Sea (see picture above).

The dominant landscape is a desert plateau with little no vegetation or water. It once was the bottom of a dried-up sea (Tethys Sea), which existed here in the early and middle Cenozoic era (some 21 million years ago). This is evidenced by shell traces in the limestone, as well as ferromanganese nodules scattered across the plateau which were formed on the bottom of the sea, and then, as more resistant to weathering, left on the surface while other limestone and dolomites were eroded. In places its flat desert terrain broken by chalk deposits in the form of rocks and random cracks looks like the Martian landscape.

The climate is continental and characterized by the coldest winters in Uzbekistan.(up to – 40 degrees C) , summers scorching (+50 degrees C) with heat searing the landscape with low rainfall. There are no permanent surface watercourses. The soils are brown-brown desert, composite soils. The vegetation consists of Anabasis salsa, Artemisia and Haloxylon. The zone is used as distant pastures. Oil and natural-gas deposits lie to the west of the plateau.

The varied flora and fauna of the Ustyurt. include colonies of gerbils, ground squirrels and jerboas and is home to a large number of birds of prey – eagles and vultures. The most interesting animals of the plateau is the endangered saiga and Ustyurt argali. The plateau’s semi nomadic population raises sheep, goats and camels. Also wild horses roam parts of the Ustyurt. Many plant and animal species living on the plateau are listed in the Red Book. Including the central asian tortoise. the sand cat as well as the cheetah, Ustyurt wolf, fox, corsac and jackal. The flora includes different types of polynyas, Anabasis salsa, sarsazan and other medicinal herbs.

ED NOTE: The Sarmatian Stage, major division of Miocene rocks and time (23.7 to 5.3 million years ago). The Sarmatian Stage, which occurs between the Pontian and Tortonian stages, was named for Sarmatia, the ancient homeland of the Sarmatian tribes in what is presently southern European Russia, where important exposures are found. During the Miocene, a number of areas in western Europe became emergent, while sizable areas of eastern Europe were submerged by waters cut off from interchange with the oceans; these isolated, inland seas were freshened by the inflow of streams, resulting in the development of a very distinctive, lagoonal-type fossil fauna represented by peculiar species of clams, gastropods, and bryozoans. These animals were present in great abundance but exhibit little variety; almost no other kinds of animals occur. The bryozoans frequently occur in such local abundance that they form reef like masses. Sarmatian depositional basins fluctuated greatly from extremely salty to brackish.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Uzbekistan draw for preliminary round of 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

Draw: 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Preliminary Qualification Round 2
Asia’s 2018 FIFA World Cup hopefuls learned their fate on tuesday when the draw for the second round draw for the Asian qualification matches was held in Kuala Lumpur.
Uzbekistan has been drawn to play in Group H along with Bahrain, Philippines, DPR Korea and Yemen.  Qualification matches will be held from 11 June 2015 to 29 March 2016. The group winners and the four best runners-up (a total 12 teams) will advance to the final round of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup to be held in the Russian Federation. 


Monday, April 6, 2015

Highspeed Train "Afrosiyob" Tashkent - Samarkand

The luxury Talgo high speed train known as the Afrosiyob operates between Tashkent-Samarkand-Tashkent  The Afrosiyob provides excellent comfort for all classes (Economy, Business and VIP). Its maximum speed is 220 km/h with an average speed is 140 km/h. The Journey taking just 2:30 hrs to Samakand and 2:37 hrs to return to Tashkent.

It is a great way to have a weekend or daytrip to Samarkand from the capital!. For those outside Uzbekistan remember that if you intend to book yourself that you must go to the main train station as soon as you get to Tashkent as tickets in high season can sell out days in advance. It is also possible to book ahead through  a local travel agent if you have time pressures.
Timetable - In July 2015 Uzbekiston Temir Yollari (Uzbekistan Railways) introduced changes to schedule of the Afrosiyob in the summer period.  It leaves Samarkand at 18:00 and arrives in Tashkent at 20:10. These changes were introduced after a large number of requests by passengers.

AFROSIYOB : Tashkent - Samarkand Train Timetable  


Source of Table: Advantour Please see Advantour for more details about this and other train services between Tashkent and Samarkand (and beyond). Note: That there may be seasonal changes of timetable so it is always best to double check before you intend to travel.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Eldest woman in the world dies in Karakalpakstan

The eldest woman reportedly in the world Tuti Yusupova died on March 27th the newspaper Erkin Karakalpakstan (Free Karakalpakstan) announced.

A resident of Turtkul district Tuti Yusupova is believed to have been born in the 1880s in the Turtkul region of Karakalpakstan. She married in 1897 or 1898, and had 2 children. Her husband died in 1940. Whilst her exact age was unknown her passport gives her birthdate as July 1st 1880 (making her possibly as old as 134 years old).

Her funeral was attended by Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Karakalpakstan B. Yangibaev.  In 2008, President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov signed a decree on awarding her Shukhrat medal. In 2010, the studio "Karakalpakfilm" shot a documentary film about Tuti Yusupova called "Witness of three centuries."

Note: Tuti was not the only witness of three centuries in Karakalpakstan. According to recent reports,  at least three more people - 114-year-old Bibihan Halniyazova from Takhtakupyr District and 112-year-old Pashsha Yusupova and Bika Khudaybergenova from Ellikalinsk and Turtkul Districts respectively had lived in all three centuries.