- 22 February 2016
“NISA – the Residence of Parthian Kings”
Nisa – historical place a monument of word value located on the suburb of village Bagir 15 km. to the west from the capital of Turkmenistan city Ashgabat and consist of two fortresses, named Old Nisa and New Nisa. Between them – the one and a half kilometre, once occupied by medieval city, and now apartment houses and court yard of top part Bagir.
History of the Nisa is connected by the closest image a history of Parphian power. In the IV century B.C. when the empire of Ahemenids has failed under impacts of armies Alexander the Great, the independent states Bactrias, Parthia and Khoresm were formed. They have passed the dynamical, eventful historical way well enough covered in works of antique authors in the development. The most appreciable successes has achieved Parthia, more than 500 years have existed and becoming already to the I century of a new era the terrible contender of Rome.
Due to found during the time of excavation of the Old Nisa to written documents the name of this fortress is precisely established: Mitridatkert, that from the Parthian have been deciphered as “made by Mitridat”. It allows to attribute its foundation to tsar Mitridat I, who has governed in 171-138 years up to AD though. This outstanding governor transformed Parthia to world power, and subsequently also Mitridat II (rules in 123-87 years up to AD) undoubtedly arranged well Mitridatkert. By forces of STAE (Southern Turkmen Archaeological Expedition) dig out almost all nowadays known buildings of the New and Old Nisa.
The invaluable collection of rhyton, marble sculptures, silver and stone products from imperial treasury Nisa decorates nowadays halls of the National museum of History and Ethnography of Turkmenistan it is possible to see the rare samples Parthian wall painting and stone architectural ornaments from Nisa sanctuaries.
The fortress at Nisa was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2007.
Almost 40 kilometers to the west of Ashgabat a heroic Geoktepe fortress is situated where in 1881, defending their independence, the Turkmens showed courageous resistance to the invading Russian army. 110 years later after the battle when Turkmenistan had become an Independent state President Saparmurat Turkmenbashi arrived at a decision to erect a memorial mosque at the place of that heroic battle; the construction was commissioned to the French “Bouygues” company.
The mosque that was named after the first President of Turkmenistan who had just gone on a pilgrimage to Mecca (khadj) became a dominant of the surrounding.
The mosque presents a traditional cube over which a 40- meter central dome elliptical in shape towers; 60 meter high minarets are erected in the corners. From the north a courtyard adjoins to an expansive prayerful hall for 500 people. General concept of the mosque is the Osman one, but its ornament reminds of powerful local architectural roots that are explicitly expressed in mosques, mausoleums of Anau, Merv, Gurandja and in a great number of other monuments of Islamic epoch.
Annually, on the Commemoration Day – 12 Turkmenbashi (January), instituted by Decree of President Saparmurat Turkmenbashi in commemoration of Geoktepe battle, a solemn public prayer is committed in the mosque and sadaka is arranged.
“MEDIEVAL CITY ANAU”
Anau was inhabited since Neolithic times, it was known as Bagabad to Silk Road travelers. The city was blossoming till the times of Mongols who made the city into ruins. But the live here was renewed the remains found on its territory proves this fact as finding dated to XII-XIV centuries.
New ascent was during the governing of Timurids (1336-1405, established by Timur (Tamerlan)) but from that time only sardoba of XV century with round reservoir 6,5m in diameter and mosque Seit-jemaletdin mosque was constructed in 15th century.
By the 15 century it was a fortified town famous for this mosque. The mosque was built as the inscription on facade said in 1456 when Khorasan was governed by Abu-l-Kasim Baber Bahadurhan. The construction was financed by its vezir Muhammed Hudaidot, who chose the place at the grave of his father sheikh Djemal-ed-din. This mosque played the role of religious complex. Central hall 10,5m in diameter had a dome. It had spiral staircases, which led to the second and third levels. The main entrance was represented by most striking portal with rich tiled blue mosaic above the main entrance depicting two sinuous eight-metre dragons facing each other and inscription in Arabic. Unfortunately the building was completely demolished by the earthquake of 1948.
Only traces in the ground remain, the object of study by archaeologists. The site is still considered holy by locals. Women offer up torn strips of cloth and items of babies’ clothing, dummies and plastic dolls, in the hope of conceiving a child.
Serakhs, the center of the oasis, a small town on the Turkmen-Iranian border was founded in the age of the Archimenides (VI-IV cc.BC).
Among the preserved creations of the Serakhs architects there can be distinguished monuments located directly in Serakhs oasis. Firstly, it is the Old Serakhs citadel built in the post Mongol period and the mausoleum of Abul Fazl, constructed in 1024 over the tomb of a famous muslim mystic of XI c. The popular name of the monument is Serakhs -Baba. It is considered to be the most perfect creation of the medieval architecture of Southern Turkmenistan. Next in significance is the mausolem of Sheikh Lokhman. A few km to the south-east of the Abu-Fasl one can see the ruins of the mausoleum of Sheikh Akhmed Al-Khady called by people Yarty Gumbez. Built in 1098 it is decorated with ornamental brickwork and inscriptions in the Arabic “kufi” script. Another interesting illustration of ancient history of the site is the Polekhatum bridge across the Tejen River 70 km south to Serakhs on the very Iranian border. The folk connect the bridge with the name of Alexander the Great. It was the very place where in summer 350 BC the great invader crossed the Arii river (Herirud, Tejen) on the way from Persipolis (the town at the Persian Gulf) to Araxos (that is on the territory of modern Afghanistan). These basic monuments are undoubtedly of a great interest to all who want to open the fascinating history and enchanting beauty of Central Asian architecture.
“ABU-SAID - MEANE BABA MAUSOLEUM”
Meana baba – so names local population the mausoleum, erected above ashes of the known Muslim religious figure of the Middle Ages of the Sheikh Abusagyt Abulhayr (in Russian transcription Abu-Said Abul Hayr), living in the X-XI centuries. The mausoleum is located approximately in 40 km. to the south-east of the settlement Dushak of Ahal area of Turkmenistan and during all XX century remained object of research from the part of orientalists, archeologists, historians of architecture and arts critics, and last years it is one of popular tourist objects. Here lived known Sheikhs followers of suphizm – mystic ascetic doctrine in an Islam among which one of large figures is Abu-Said Abul Hayr. He was born in the family of the druggist presumably in 968 year in the city of Mehne where has received an elementary education, then was trained at the well known theologians of Merv. In the beginning of 1020-th years Abu-Said, having received from the known ufi of that period the certificate about achievements of a maturity in knowledge of suphizm, has opened in Nishapur his own hanaka where begins conduction of the own sermons, as well as discussions about life and mysticism.
However, Abu-Said comes back to Mehne. He has founded hanaka (house with mosque and cella) which always was full by supporters of Sufi interpretation. Here, to a monastery of the sacred Sheikh aspired dervishes from all places of Khurasan.
However in the course of time small rivers Meana and Chacha are exhausted up to such decree, that the population of once blossoming oasis starts to abandon familiar spots. Because of full deficiency of water it appears left also the city of Mehne. Unfortunately, today the historical science has no sufficient data about town-planning culture and last days of a life of this city. It is like erased from the ground. And only separate hillocks, appearing on a lay of land of land, hint that here, probably, once there were structures. Even the buildings once entering into a complex Meanea-baba, either lay in ruins, or have at all disappeared. And only mausoleum of Sheikh Abu-Said Abul Hayr carefully supported by local population alone towering in steppe, and as if preserved by soaring spirit great aged man, having gone through centuries, continues to draw to itself pilgrims, tourists and travelers from many ends of the world.
“MEDIEVAL CITY ABIVERD”
Abiverd, Peshtak, medieval city, located to the west from Kaahka. This is one of the most significant cities of North Khorasan, repeatedly mentioned in written sources, namely from the times of Arab conquest. Historian At-Tabari wrote exact date of Khorasan cities 's conquest such as Abiverd, Nisa, Serakhs and Merv by Arabs in 651. Haradzh (tax fee) for Abiverd in IX century was 700000 dirkhems that is twice exceeded haradzh of Serakhs. This proves that in those times Abiverd region was more densely populated, than Serakhs.
In IX century there was a fight for Khorasan’s possession between Seljuks and Gaznevids. Abiverd is mentioned in annals as the city where Togrulbek Seljuk (the founder of Seljuk Empire) and Masud Gaznevi stopped. Historian Djuveini stressed that Nisa and Abiverd in one moment were destroyed by Mongol invasion. In XV century Abiverd region there were several villages, auls and towns.
Semenov, who made the first drafts of the medieval citadel of Abiverd, firstly excavated Abiverd in 1928.
In 1947 Abiverd visited South Turkestan Archeological Expedition, which reconsider the dwellings of Abiverd from the early Middle Ages to XIX century.
The fragments of ceramic found in Abiverd dated from VII c. to X c. Citadel with 20 towers has the size of square 300 to 350m. Abiverd had been developing due to its position on the crossroad of trade routes, which connected cities and regions of the northern Kopetdag with Iran. Besides from the northern part of Abiverd there was the stepper – important market for selling the crafts articles and purchasing cattle-breeding materials. Historian Makdisi liked Abiverd more that Nisa because of its bazaars and fruitful and rich soils.
“ALTYN DEPE” - (the Golden Hill)
“ALTYN DEPE” - (the Golden Hill) is an ancient settlement of the Bronze Age (3,000 - 2,000 B.C.) located among the Meane and Chache villages of Kaka etrap on the territory of ancient Abiverd. Shapeless pise-walled hills of Altyn -Depe different in terms of area and height are scattered around vast territory.
The ancient settlement of Altyn - Depe, Namazga - Depe, and Ulug - Depe as well as others emerged in 3,000 B.C., and by the beginning of 2,000 B.C. they reached their highest prosperity becoming the largest centers of the first Central Asian civilization.
These settlements were surrounded by mud brick fortifications with gates reinforced by powerful towers. Judging by the ruins area each of them could accommodate 11-12 thousand people. Mud bricks were used for construction of multiroom houses which formed extensive quarters divided by narrow winding streets. The center of Altyn - Depe was a monumental temple with a four-level tower of about 12 m . in height. At the top of the tower there was a sacrificial altar.
Altyn - Depe Temple architecture reminds that of Babylon and Sumer. Like many other temples of Mesopotamia the temple in Altyn - Depe was devoted to the god of the Moon. This huge complex included numerous storehouses, the house of Supreme priest and a tomb of a priestly community. All this evidently speaks that the civilization of Altyn - Depe developed in close contact with the main cultural centers of ancient Orient.
The ruins of craftsmen quarters in Altyn - Depe sprawled for dozens of meters. The fallen off arches of massive pottery forges can be seen on the place where pottery quarters used to be.
The casters of Altyn - Depe were distinguished by their unsurpassed skills. They produced magnificent daggers decorated with engraving, vessels, mirrors, pins, rings, bracelets. In the tombs located in the «nobility district" archeologists found various jewelry from gold and silver, necklaces from semiprecious stones, silver and bronze rings and signets.
The significant part of Altyn - Depe population and Namazga - Depe worked on the field irrigated by means of simple system of canals. The inhabitants of Altyn - Depe used wheel transport.