Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Traditional Herbal Medicinal Foods in Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan and its neighbours in Central Asia is where many of the wild species that have become important crops around the world (such things as apples, apricots, alfalfa, flax, garlic, almonds, pistachios, sesame, numerous types of beans come originally from the region). It is an extremely important place in terms of plant species diversity. Breeders still go there to find disease resistant, cold tolerant species due to the unique assemblage of endemic plant and animal species, it has amongst the most diverse area for many medicinally and chemically relevant groups of plants such as Allium, Artemisia, Astragalus, Ferula and Oxytropis.

Scientists in the region have since Medieval times studied the medical benefits of plants.  In the 10th–11th centuries Abu Rayjon Beruni and Abu Ali ibn Sino (Avicenna) made great contribution to herbal medicine. Abu Rayhan Beruni (973–1048) famously wrote “Kitob as Saidana fit-t-tib” where edible plants were detailed and Abu Ali ibn Sino (980–1037) “Canon,” which contains five volumes, two volumes have been dedicated to medicinal plants. He described about 1,500 drugs and almost 1,000 species of medicinal plants, among them 20 species had been known from the ancient period as food plants. Since that time many other scientists have made their contribution by researching medicinal plants. In the 20th and 21st centuries, extensive research of the chemical and pharmacological properties of local medicinal plants has been conducted.

Uzbekistan has some 4,500 species of plants the following have been identified for medicinal purposes in Uzbekistan. (Main Source: Medicinal Plants of Central Asia: Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, published by Science Direct )
Botanical name
Family Alliaceae
Allium barsczewskii Lipsky
Bulbs and pounded leaves are applied at the head against colds and flu, headache, fever, and toothache. Seeds are eaten with bread in order to increase appetite also used for treatment of skin diseases.
A. jodanthum Vved          
Yovoj piozi      
Leaves and bulbs without stems are used against toothache and mumps, alcohol  extracts for disinfections of wounds.
A. karataviense Regel
Chuchka piez
Aerial parts a vitamin source. Used against pneumonia and lung problems.
A. majus Vved.
Bulbs provide a vitamin Source
A,motor.Kam et Levichev
Young leaves are eaten in soups and 'somsa' which owns a specific activity as tonic.
A. praemixtum Vved.
Bulbs provide a vitamin Source
A. pskemense B.Fedtsch.
Pskom piozi
Bulbs and leaves used against colds and flu, headache, fever, and toothache. Seeds are eaten with bread in order to increase appetite.
Allium severtzovioides R.M. Fritsch
Tosh motor
Fresh leaves and bulbs without stems are locally applied against stomach and duodenum diseases.
A. suworowii Regel
Anzur piozi
Bulbs used as a vitamin source. Pickled bulbs are eaten against tuberculosis and bronchitis.
         Family Anacardiaceae
Pistacia vera L.
Nuts - Cardiac, respiratory diseases
Rhus coriaria L.
Fruits - Hypertension, gastric ulcer
         Family Apiaceae
Bunium persicum L.
Seeds - Stomach diseases, spice
Ferula foetida (Bunge) Regel
Sassik kovrak
Leaves -Wounds, diabetes, tuberculosis
Mediasia macrophilla (Regel and Schmalh.) M. Pimen.
Alqor ut
Aerial parts - Spice, preservative
         Family Asphodelaceae
Eremurus regelii Vved.
Young leaves are a vitamin source
E. robustus (Regel) Regel
Young leaves are a vitamin source
E. turkestanicus Regel
Young leaves are a vitamin source
         Family Asteraceae
Taraxacum officinalle Web.
Leaves  Vitamin Source, skin diseases
         Family Berberidaceae
Berberis integerima Bunge
Bark - Liver and kidney diseases
B.oblonga (Rgl.) Schneid.
Fruits - Liver and kidney diseases
         Family Brassicaceae
Capsella bursa-pastoris (L.) Medic.
Aerial parts - blood coagulant, vitamin source
         Family Capparacea
Capparis herbaceae L.
Fruits - Rheumatism, liver diseases
         Family Caryophyllaceae
Allochrusa gypsophiloides (Regel) Schischk.
Roots - Saponin
         Family Cupressacea
Juniperus seravshanica Kom.
Urik archa
Fruits - Kidney, liver, urinary bladder diseases
J. turkestanica Kom.
Fruits - Rheumatism
         Family Elaegnaceae
Elaegnus angustifolia L.

Fruits – Treatment of bruises and wounds. 
Hippophae rhamnoides L.
Fruits - Uterine cervical erosion, for burn
         Family Juglandaceae
Juglans regia L.
Nuts - Diabetes, skin, tuberculosis
       Family Moraceae
Morus alba L.
Fruits – Diabetes
        Family Punicaceae 
Punica granatum L.                                   Anor
Fruits - Stomach diseases
         Family Rhamnaceae 
Ziziphus jujuba Mill.
Fruits - Anaemia, asthma, kidney, hypertension
         Family Rosaceae
Amygdalus communis L.
Oil. Seeds - Asthma, cough, anaemia
A.spinossima Bunge
Oil - Anaemia
Crataegus pontica C. Koch.
Crat. et Mesp.
Fruits -Cardiac diseases, hypertension, sleeplessness
C. turkestanica Pojark.
Qizil dulana
Fruits -Cardiac diseases, hypertension
Rubus idaeus L.
Fruits - vitamin source
Rosa canina L.
Fruits - vitamin source
R. fedlshenkoana Regel
Fruits - vitamin source
Sorbus tianschanica Rupr.
Fruits - vitamin source
  Family Urticaceae
Urtica dioica L.
Gazanda ut
Aerial parts - Blood coagulant, Vitamin Source

Monday, December 28, 2015

Botanical Gardens in Uzbekistan

The Botanical Garden - Nukus
Garden Name: The Botanical Garden, Uzbek Academy of Sciences Founded: 1959 Address: Complex Institute of Natural Sciences, Karakalpakaya Branch, 742004 Nukus. Status: State Herbarium. Collections: Salix, Calligonum, Halimodendron, fruit, berries, ornamentals and herbaceous plants. No. of taxa: 291

The University Botanical Garden - Samarkand
Garden Name: The University Botanical Garden Founded: 1970  Address: 9 Arutunova St., 703008 Samarkand. Status: State Herbarium: Collections: Trees and shrubs, fruit trees. No. of taxa: 194

National University Botanical Gardens - Tashkent
Garden Name:  National University of Uzbekistan Botanical Garden - Tashkent Founded: 1960 Status: State Herbarium. Collections: Rosarium, ornamental, medicinal, vineyard, pomology garden. No. of taxa: 455

Botanic Garden of the Academy of Sciences in Tashkent
Garden Name: Uzbekistan Academy of Sciences Botanic Garden Founded: 1953 Address: Dshacan Abidovoi Street 232, 700053 Tashkent Status: State Herbarium: Collections: Hybrid Hibiscus, Crataegus, Rosa, Berberis, Cotoneaster, Lonicera, Malus, Acer, Spiraea, Philadelphus, Deutzia, Pinus, Tulipa, Eremurus. Middle Asian flora. No. of taxa: 6,000

Introduction: Botanical Gardens of Academy of Sciences is the oldest botanical gardens in Uzbekistan founded in 1920. Laying out and building of the Botanical Gardens on its present site began in 1950 under the guidance of Academician F.N.Rusanov. Today the Botanical Gardens functions as a uniform organisation jointly with Institute of Flora and Fauna Genofond (Gene Pool).

It has a total area of the Botanical Gardens covers 66 hectares, it is located in the northeast part of Tashkent.  The arboretum of the garden occupies 40 hectares and consists of exhibitions dendroflora of East Asia, North America, Central Asia, the Far East, Europe, Crimea and the Caucasus. The collection contains more than 6000 species, forms, varieties and species of trees, shrubs, dwarf shrubs, vines, grasses and aquatic plants. 

Besides, there are planting sites for medicinal herbs, biological, regular, quarantine, experimental-industrial sites, nurseries, and a glass-grown-hothouse complex. In hothouses and tropical orchard-houses there are grown over 800 types, forms and varieties of tropical and subtropical plants. There is also a special nursery for medicinal herbs. Researching Central Asian medicinal plants, most of which have not been properly evaluated, is an area of particular interest to the scientists at the Botanical Institute.

In the eleventh century, Al-Biruni and Avicenna, two great scholars born in present-day Uzbekistan, made important contributions to the science of medicinal plants. Al-Biruni conceived a new field of science concerning medicinal herbs, and classified and described numerous plant species. In 1025, Avicenna published The Canon of Medicine, in which he described the herbs that were most widely researched and used in medical practice then. Today, many of those plants are still used in medicine in Central Asia.

Herbarium: The central herbarium (collection of preserved plant specimens) has a large and unique collection (the only one in Central Asia). It consists of more than one million herbarium sheets covering 172 plant species families. The herbarium consists of four sections: 1) Central Asian herbarium of about 100 thousand sheets in volume; 2) General herbarium of about 100 thousand sheets in volume; 3) Typical (authentic) herbarium of about 2000 sheets in volume; and 4) Exchange collection and herborised materials collected for issuing, is presented by 1400 plant species.

The Palaeobotanical collection:  includes of more than 6000 samples and is presented by imprints of vegetative organs of almost all types of plants, fossilized wood or petrified wood, spores and pollen.

Guides: Qualified guides regularly lead excursions in the Botanical garden. The Botanical Gardens is a museum in the open air, national property and pride of the Republic and science of Uzbekistan.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Petroglyphs of Western Kazakhstan and Karakalpakstan

Rock art sites are known in the Mangyshlak Peninsula (Mangistau), Ustyurt Plateau and Mugodzhari Mountains.The Ustyurt Plateau is a vast high plain (up to 370m above sea level) with uniform levelled surfaces bounded by steep precipices up to 150m high. The plateau is structured by horizontally embedded marine deposits, limestone, and dolomites, where karst developed. Ustyurt is classified as an argillaceous desert with a sharply continental, extremely dry climate with an annual precipitation of 100–150mm. The Mugodzhari Mountains are outhern spurs of the Ural Range low and consists of low mountains and rolling hills (300-500m). Several rivers –the Emba, Irgiz, Or, Tobol, Taldy–originate there, but most dry out.The uniqueness of the Mangistau and Ustyurt natural environment influenced the development of rock art, particularly the almost non-existence of durable rocks as a substrate. Ancient images on soft limestone are only be preserved on closed-in natural surfaces (grottos and caves) or in a fossilized archaeological condition (Koskuduk). The rock drawings (petroglyphs) date from prehistoric times up to the late medieval period  The ethnographic details and funerary and cultic structures for thematically-rich artistic creations also pertains to the specifics of rock art development in the region.

Toleubulak Grottos petroglyphs are located on the upper reaches of the Emba River, on the south-western end of the Mugodzhary Mountains. The grotto  discovered in 1999 by a Russian-Kazakh expedition led by Taymagambetova Zh.-K. is of Aeolian origin is located on a rock massif made of siliceous sandstone. Near the grotto under an overhang are other petroglyths showing pecked images of a camel and horse, and humans.

The  grotto drawings are deeply carved into the surface of the cave; some figures are additionally abraded. The upper zone is covered with rows of carved sub-parallel lines sometimes intersected by crossing lines. The second group consists of often open circles with lines inside. The second includes cup-holes that are up to 6cm deep and 17-25cm in diameter. The second or middle zone comprises well-preserved phallic figures; there is also a large number of cup-holes there, mostly abraded. The third zone represents large images of a bean-shaped fruit or horse hooves. The drawings were incised then abraded. The specificity of the panel is the absence of human or animal images and the prevalence of linear-geometrics and cupholes.

The Toleubulak Grotto has no similar analogies in Central Asia, but has features comparable to the Kamennaya Mogila grottos in the Northern Azov region of the Russian Federation. Its artwork is attributed to the first half of the Holocene, no later than the Neolithic. Stone Age dwelling sites and other habitation sites from different periods were discovered in the area.

Koskuduk petroglyphs are located 7km from Aktau City on the shore of the Caspian Sea. The site dates from the late neolithic and is within the settlement known as Koskuduk I. The petroglyths engraved on a horizontal limestone surface were discovered in the course of archaeological excavations at the Neolithic habitation  dwelling site by Astafyev A.-E. . The images include grooves, two crawling snakes and, a fish 150m south-east of cliffs near the sea. The snakes are 160 and 250cm long; an extension near the head of one of them resembles a cobra’s hood. Three artificial cavities were possibly meant to collect rainwater, 10m from the horizontal surface of the cliff; the capacity of the reservoirs is about 30 liters.

Ustyurt and Mangistau petroglyphs - Rock drawings were found in the Mangistau in the cretaceous mountains (Akmaya, Ayrakty)  and on open surfaces and in caves of Zhygylgan Cape on the north-eastern shore of the Caspian Sea. They were carved on a soft cretaceous substrate. The location of most drawings in the Akmaya Mountains are related to traditional hunting trails and ambush places. They represent horses, camels, hunting scenes for wild animals (big-horn sheep, mountain goat, and cheetah) with the help of a primitive firearm, battle scenes, horse races, and others. Many of these engravings are carved with great mastery, but human images are sketchy, while the main emphasis was on depicting the belongings of a mounted warrior. Frequently, they are accompanied by Arabic inscriptions. From the accurately depicted realistic details (armour, horse harness, and a rider) and the epigraphy, most images are dated 18th - 19th centuries. Such ethnographic graffiti on the walls of cultic and funerary sites–mausoleums, headstones, mosques are wide spread.

Linage signs known as "tamgas" or “tamgalytas” are often found near wells good examples of which are in the Tyupkaragan Peninsula near the Ustyurt Chink (Masat-Ata, Tanbalytas). Quite often, in addition to tamgas, there are images of animals, riders, and geometric signs. The signs of Turkmen and Kazakh tribes are predominant among these accumulations of tamgas. They are dated to the 17th - 19th centuries, but some of them may belong to an earlier period.

The Petroglyphs of Prisarykamyshya were discovered in 1940 on the sand hills north-western foothills of Kara-Tepe in Karakalpakstan. A considerable part of petroglyphs of Prisarykamyshya  are in the vicinity of a narrow and deep river canyon. These petroglyphs are very diverse; many of them have linearly geometric compositions, as well as images of people and the images of fishing nets, boats, hunting scenes. On the walls of caves applied strange images as large and broad lines and furrows. Linear-geometric style images, according to many researchers are so-called hunting and fishing theme of the final phase of the Neolithic era.

In the steep wall chink of Ustyurt, there is an entrance into the vast, carved into the rock cave called Besh deshik, which translated means "The Five holes". Inside the walls of this cave there are a large number of incised drawings, pictures of animals, boats, and astral themes and various solar symbols. Petroglyphs also include sheep, saiga antelope, goats, horses and camels.
Among the petroglyphs, were found of individual images and compositions relating to the period of early and late middle Ages including carved inscriptions in Arabic and Old Persian languages.


Prehistoric Caves and Rock Paintings of Uzbekistan

The earliest evidence of human life in Uzbekistan dates back to the Stone Age, or middle paleolithic. These are petroglyphs, burials, and temporary settlements discovered by archeologists. The people living in the middle paleolithic hunted wild goats, leopards, wild boars, and other animals. These people also gathered the roots and fruits of wild plants. They used fire: hearths made of stone were found inside the dwellings. The men made their tools of stone using the split-off method, applied to siliceous limestone, quartzite, and jasper. Among these finds are stone plates, arrowheads, scrapers and axes, and wooden and bone articles. Bent skeletons encircled by goat horns and the like, found in graves, show how the thinking of the primitive men developed.

Currently there are more than 140 locations of rock art sites in Uzbekistan. The overwhelming majority of these are ‘petroglyphs’ (engraved or pecked images in stone) which spread up from the southern borders of the country to the north and across the Tien-Shan in the east to the extremely arid Kara-Kum desert in the west. Their presence gives scientists a good understanding of the great cultural diversity of these lands.

Anghilak Cave - Qashqadaryo Region.

Anghilak Cave is located about 45 km south-west of Samarkand in the Kashkadariya region of south-eastern Uzbekistan. It sits in the foothills of the Zerafshan mountain range's southern slopes. Here have been found stone tools made from flint, quartz, siliceous limestone, and quartzite. Of the animal remains, nearly half are tortoise and the remainder appears to be sheep and goat. It also contains remnants of Middle Palaeolithic people. The oldest remains are of a metatarsal which dates between 40,000 to 46,000 BP. However it has not been possible to definitely identify whether the remains belonged to a Neanderthal or human.

Obi-Rakhmat Grotto - Tashkent Region.

The Obi-Rakhmat (or Abirakhmat Cave) is located just west of the border with Kyrgyzstan about 85 km north-east of Tashkent at the south-western end of the Koksui mountain range, in the western Tian Shan, near the junction of the Chatkal and Pskem Rivers. It sits at an elevation of 1,250 m above sea level in a Palaeozoic limestone reef formation overlooking the picturesque Paltau river Valley. The site was first explored in the 1960s and excavations began in the 1970s and have yielded more than 60,000 stone artefacts that have been determined as having a mixture of Middle and Upper Palaeolithic features with radiocarbon dates from approximately 40 to 48,000 BP. In addition some 5,300 animal remains have been found. Hominin remains discovered in strata/layer include maxillary teeth and over 120 crania fragments. The remains exhibit some Neanderthal traits and are up to 90,000 years BP. Important finds of Upper Palaeolithic humans who lived there around 50 thousand years ago have also been found.

Petroglyphs of Prisarykamyshya - Karakalpakstan.

The rock carvings of Prisarykamyshya were discovered in 1940 in the north-western foothills of Kara-Tepe in Karakalpakstan. These petroglyphs are very diverse; many of them have linearly geometric compositions, as well as images of people and the images of fishing nets, boats, hunting scenes. On the walls of caves applied strange images as large and broad lines and furrows. Linear-geometric style images, according to many researchers are so-called hunting and fishing theme of the final phase of the Neolithic era. Pictures of animals (sheep, saiga antelope, goats, horses and camels) and astral themes and various solar symbols.

Sarmishsay Ravine - Navoi Region.

This picturesque gorge covers an area of about 20 km² on the southern slopes of the Karatau mountain range, 30–40 km to the north-east of Navoi on the edge of the Kyzyl Kum desert. It is famous for various ancient monuments of anthropogenic activity which include burial mounds, crypts, pagan altars and petroglyphs from the Stone, Iron, Bronze Ages and from Scythian tribes of the early Iron IX-II cent. BC and inscriptions from Middle Ages which depict medieval domestic goats, camels, dogs, and just as easily dated Arabic inscription.

There are over 4,000 petroglyphs still intact which are in the main located in a narrow stone canyon of 2.5 km long. The paintings are made on vertical, and sometimes on horizontal outcroppings of reddish sandstone streaked with slate and limestone. Next to the petroglyphs the burial grounds of ancient nomads. Since ancient times this territory has been a sacred zone, where locals performed their sacred ceremonies on holy days. The Petroglyphs of Sarmishsay give a very comprehensive picture of local fauna thousands of years ago. Today most of which have disappeared, unable to compete for food with man and domestic livestock.

Siypantosh Rock Paintings - Qashqadaryo Region.

The rock paintings are situated on the concave rock on the faces of granite-diorite outcrops. These petroglyphs show geometrical figures painted in black, yellow and red-brown pigments, and include foot-shaped designs, a bull with curved horns, various animals, small hand prints, among others.

Teshik Tash Cave - Surxondaryo Region.

Teshik Tash is said to mean 'stone (with an) opening. It is  located some 18 km north of Baysun and 125-130 km south of Samarkand. It is situated about 1,500 m above sea level in the Baysun-tau mountains on the craggy walls of the Zautolosh Darya Sai (gorge) in the north of Surkhandarya region, between the rivers Sherabad Darya (upstream Turgan Darya) and the Surkhan Darya, upstream and north from where the two rivers meet the great Amu Darya.

In this cave in 1938-39 archaeologist Alexey Okladnikov made his famous discovery of a camp of prehistoric Mousterian culture and the shallow burial site with the 70,000 year old fossilised remains of the skeleton (skull and some bones) of a Neanderthal child (previously called the 'Teshik Tash Boy  recently they were found to be from a young girl) of some 8-9 years old. Burial was surrounded by the horns of an ibex 'mountain goat', dug into the ground, which indicated the existence of the religious-ritual worship in Neanderthal culture.

Zaraut-kamar Grotto - Surxondaryo Region.

A small grotto in the Zarautsoy gorge which is covered with prehistoric, ancient and medieval petroglyphs. These rock paintings are considered the oldest petroglyphs in Central Asia. The images describe primitive man’s everyday life, with hunting scenes (wild animals - bulls, goats, buzzards, goitered gazelles, etc.) and their rituals.

Who were the Neanderthals and the importance of the finds in Central Asia ?

Neanderthals are a now extinct species of the genus Homo, possibly a subspecies of Homo sapiens. They are closely related to modern humans, differing in DNA by only 0.3%, just twice the variability across contemporary humans. Remains left by Neanderthals include bones and stone tools, which are found from western Europe to central Asia. The species is named after Neander's Valley near Dusseldorf  the location in Germany where they were first discovered in 1856…..The first humans with proto-Neanderthal traits are believed to have existed as early as 600,000–350,000 years ago…..The exact date of their extinction is disputed or if they did actually all become extinct but some actually blended with early modern humans approx. 35,000-24,000 BP. Prior to the discovery of the Teshik-Tash skull in 1938, it was thought that Neanderthals had not spread east enough to reach Asia. The Neanderthal population was known to be dense in Europe along the Mediterranean. The discovery of the Teshik-Tash child's skull and the preponderance of lithic assemblages identified as Mousterian in character identified Central Asia as  the eastern-most extent of the Neanderthal range. Supported later by discoveries at Obi-Rakhmat, where a sub-adult represented by part of a permanent maxillary dentition and a fragmentary cranium also expressed a relatively Neanderthal-like dentition coupled with more ambiguous cranial anatomy. As the remains found in Anghilak Cave a diminutive right fifth metatarsal (AH-1) which most probably was also from a Neanderthal. All are important to the hominin fossil record of Central Asia.

For more information see