Bukhara History - Part 2
Determining the age of Bukhara has required archaeological excavations immediately within the city's limits. Unlike Samarkand, Tashkent, and Karshi, which have changed their sites several times, Bukhara emerged at the same location again and again. As a result, a thick cultural layers lies beneath the city. Centuries-old remains of cultural material in these layers are the only source for researching the remote past of Bukhara and unlocking the mystery of its age.
Despite the keen interest of the researchers, it was impossible to excavate and explore the deepest layers of the city's past, as the sites are currently covered over by mahallas (residential neighbourhoods) and historical monuments in the old section of the city. Underground water close to the surface of excavated sites also impeded the unearthing of some plots.
The first archaeological excavations were begun in the 1930s. They focused on studying and restoring specific architectural monuments. Archaeologist V.A. Shishkin, who conducted research on Magoki Attori Mosque, and S.N. Yurenev, who uncovered the foundation of the Kalyan Minaret in the 1950s, could not reach the oldest layers of the city because of underground water that surfaced during excavation.
To study the history of the development and emergence of Bukhara, a special archaeological expedition under the guidance of academician Ya. Qulyamov was launched in the 1960s. From 1970 to 1974 and 1977 to 1980, archaeological excavations were conducted in some sections of Old Bukhara. Because of the densely built-up areas in the old section of the city, archaeologists had to limit their excavations to the areas surrounding the Zindan Museum, the Kalyan Mosque, Mir-i-Arab madrasa, the square between the Taqi Zargaron dome and Abdulla-khan's market, the eastern section of the Ark Square, and a section of old Shakhristan of from 11 to 13 hectares.
The excavation revealed that Bukhara was originally built on marshy soil. The excavations provided the opportunity to examine the urbanization process from the first settlement to the early twentieth century. Artifacts and information were found between depths of 9 m and 14m and even as deep as 20 m in some places.
Many researchers made significant contributions to the study and restoration of the history of the Bukhara oasis, including Ya. Qulamov, A.R. Mukhammedjanov, V.A. Shishkin, Kh. Mukhammedov, R. Suleimanov, I. Akhrarov, T. Mirsaatov, O. V. Obelchenko, 5. K. Kovalev, V. D. Zhukov Q.V. Shishkina, V.A. Bulatova, V. Sprishevsky, J. Duke, D. K. Mirzaakhmedov, P. Valiev, Q. Dadabayev, U. Alimov, Sh. Adylov, Q.L. Semyonov, and E.G. Hekrasova.
Regular archaeological research continued for many years in Bukhara. Material evidence was collected that enabled the study of natural history, population, culture, land use, cattle breeding, agriculture, and the emergence of cities and towns. These artifacts provided the basic source of information for the study of the history of Bukhara as well as urbanization in the Zarafshan valley.
The Ancient Zarafshan River, Flowing to the Amu Darya, the Bukhara oasis has been called “a child of the Zarafshan" because it is situated in the catchment basin of the Zarafshan River, on the alluvial plains formed by the actions of this powerful river over the centuries. Numerous creeks played an important role in watering the oasis.
At the end of the Ice Age, snow and glaciers in the Turkestan, Qissar, and Zarafshan mountains started to melt, forming streams that merged into the Zarafshan River. Widespread floods undoubtedly resembled the biblical flood. The Zarafshan River spread over a vast area. Its right bank was formed by sub-mountainous cliffs of Poyaruyk and Khatyrcha situated in the present-day Samarkand region, while the left bank was formed by the Pasdorgom and Kattakurgan adyrs (rain-fed lands). Water from this river was not utilized to irrigate lands in the upper and middle reaches of the Zarafshan. The river broke through the narrow Khaz-arin jaws not far from present-day Navoi and passed from there to the cone-shaped Bukhara oasis. The Zarafshan River had several downstream tributaries, including the old Khitvar, Rudizar (the Shakhrud River), Karakuldarya, Mahandarya and Taykyr. During that time, the Bukhara section of the Zarafshan Valley was covered with marshes and lakes formed by river floods and full of wild weeds.
This is how Mukhammad Narshakhi describes this region in his History of Bukhara - "The place where Bukhara is situated now was once a marsh with only a few trees. Some places were so inaccessible that no animal could break through them, because melted snow came down from the mountains and collected in the area of (present-day) Samarkand.
The big river near Samarkand is called "Rudi Mosaf", "the Mosaf River." It was shallow and large amounts of soil from the banks were carried to Bitik and Farab resulting in the emergence of marshes. When flooding stopped, the place where Bukhara is located gradually filled up to form a plain. As a result, a big river, called the Soghd River, and an area covered with silt, emerged. This area eventually became the site of Bukhara."
The territory of present-day Karakul and Alat was an enormous lake fed by water from the Zarafshan via the Kashkadarya and Karakuldarya Rivers during the summer and winter. Medieval sources refer to this lake as Bukhayr-ayi Samjan (Samjan Lake), Bakhr al-Bukhara (the Bukhara Sea), Bargini farrah (Big River Basin), Mavazai Baikand (The Lake near Baikand). The Turks called it Dengiz (The Sea), or Karakul (Big Lake). Its width and length were both about twenty farasangs (120 to 140 kilometers). The northern shore of the Bukhara Sea, known as Baikandankul, was bordered by Zamanbobo's adyrs adjacent to the Shiburdan-ata elevation, the eastern shore — by the Karshi steppe. The western shore was bordered by the Urganji-Kyzylkum steppes and the Alat depression. Mukhammad Harshakhi wrote that this lake was rich with wildlife. There were more birds and fish present there than in all of Khorasan.
From the twelfth to tenth millennia B.C., that is Holocene, the tectonic shifting of the earth's crust formed the Paikend-Karakul massif. After this shifting had occurred, the Zarafshan River's flow was blocked by the Bukhara oasis. A chain of lakes was formed not far from present-day Yakkatut alongside the Makhandarya and Qujayl: Chukurkul, Ma-hankul, Urtakul, Chandyrkul, Zamanbobo, Kichiktuzkan, Kattatuzkan, Lukhli, Agachuyuk, Kandyrli, Kayikli, Kurbanbay, Rakhmatbobo, Kichikparson, Kattaparson and Echkikiron. Then the river crossed the Urganji steppe for a distance of 150 km near Akrabad and Nargizkala and flowed into the Amu Darya River.
Today these lakes are connected by the dried riverbed of the Mahandarya, that connects the Zarafshan River to the Amu Darya. This riverbed, now covered with saline and tamarisk weed, is almost invisible. However, it can be seen on the steppes as a result of the quick sands along the riverbank. It is 30 m wide in some sections and 1.5 to 2 m deep. Near the Nargiz fortress, a monument from the eleventh to twelfth century situated on the Amu Darya's left bank, the Mahandarya forms a delta with four branches and flows into the Amu Darya. The four dried riverbeds are known as Akhursuvlot, Djilgindinsuvlot (or Yulgunlisu-vlot), Shursulot (or Ayhansuvlot) and Suvlisuv-lot (or Digisuvlot). These suvlots1 are from 75 to 1 25 m wide and from 15 to 20 m deep.
There is no doubt that such deep and wide ravines were formed by the strong water-flow from the Mahandarya eroding the Amu Darya riverbanks. This fact attests to the strength of the water-flow from the Zarafshan River to the Djeykhun.
By the late third millennium B.C., the water in the Zarafshan River became noticeably quieter with the reduced flooding of the Mahandarya. Finally, in the second millennium B.C., water no longer reached the Mahandarya and Qujayli downstream. The Kattakurgan Lake had already dried up in spite of its big size. From then on, the connection between the two rivers ceased to exist so that the Zarafshan could no longer flow into the Amu Darya via the Mahandarya. As a result of the drying up of the lower reaches of the Mahandarya and Qujayli Rivers, Neolithic peoples (from the fifth to the third millennia B.C.), who lived near the lakes amongst beds of reed, had to abandon their stands and migrate up the former rivers. Evidence of this historic migration, dating back to the second millennium B.C., has been found along the riverbanks of the Mahandarya.
During this period, people settled around the Zamanbobo and Kichiktuzgan Lakes. Archaeological artifacts have been unearthed on the upper reaches of the Mahandarya and Qujayli Rivers near Paikend. Some of these finds indicate that the population was involved in cattle breeding and farming. The former group of artifacts is dated to the first half of the second millennium B.C., the latter to the late second and early first millennia B.C.
Thus, the population of the Bukhara oasis in ancient times was engaged in two economic activities which became their main source of income: agriculture and cattle-breeding. Hunting and fishing were pushed into the background, becoming auxiliary occupations. The transition from a hunting and fishing economy to a more settled economy was a slow process.
One of the archaeological monuments of this period is a burial mound near the remains of an ancient farmer's dwelling discovered on the Qujayli's bank 500 m north of Lake Zamanbobo's shore. This site was excavated from 1951 to 1955 and 1961 to 1964. Ya. Qulyamov and S.P. Tolstov's many years of archaeological experience from research in Khorezm played a large part in this discovery. These researchers were able to imagine the mode of life of these primordial farmers and to ascertain the area of their inhabitation and the results of the historical processes. Apparently, a stone spear-point found triggered this unique discovery. The ancient burial mound, situated on Lake Zamanbobo's shore, could not be spotted, as it was buried beneath a thick layer of ground. Only the lower parts of the graves remained intact, whereas the rest of the graves were mixed with the ground that once covered the mound. Skeletons were unearthed from 46 graves. Of this number, eight skeletons were paired, and 28 were single. A grave of a child was also unearthed nearby. The researchers noted that every skeleton was laid bent on its left or right side.
Further excavations revealed that men's graves contained mainly spear-points, knife-shaped stone implements, and diversified ceramic vessels, whereas women's graves were filled with ceramic ware, bronze mirrors, makeup kits, bottles for eyebrow dye and eyebrow pencils, and beads made of precious and semiprecious stones (such as turquoise, cornelian, and agate), noteworthy finds include mortar handles, golden beads, and a statuette depicting a woman.
The excavated graves also showed that agricultural tools were still in the development stage. It was obviously difficult to dig out the graves in the solid ground around Lake Zamanbobo, so smaller graves were used and the bodies of the dead were bent so as to fit them into the graves. Adornments in the women's graves and implements of production in the men's seem to show that the worldview of these ancient Karakul farmers included a belief in life after death.
Archaeologist A. Askarov made a significant contribution to research into the artifacts of these ancient farmers. In the autumn of 1961, he uncovered the remains of two dwellings believed to be made by early farmers from Bukhara. They were discovered on the right bank of the now dried up Qujayli river about 500 m east of Lake Zamanbobo. The dwellings were pit-houses built upon takyrs. After they were abandoned, they were covered with sand.
The general layout of dwellings, as well as the building materials used and the material artifacts found helped to give an account of the society, economy, and culture of the people who lived here at that time. One of the unearthed dwellings was a big hut. It was built upon a takyr and was dug one meter down into the ground. It was 3.5 m long and 9 m wide. Judging from the hollows dug out for the pillars, the hut had a solid frame. Its walls were reinforced with compacted clay and made of interwoven branches of tamarisk.
It had a two-tiered roof covered with reeds. The total area of the main room, where from sixty to sixty-five people lived, was 170 m2. Both indoors and outdoors, there were several hearths around which were found scattered potsherds; stone instruments; the bones of domestic and wild animals (goats, sheep, cows, deer, bears), birds and fishes; necklaces; beads made from agate, lazurite, and cornelian; and fragments of bronze mirrors.
The remains of a small kiln, found in the yard, were unique. The pear-shaped kiln was ninety cm in diameter with a pillar made from clay in the center. The upper part was dome-shaped and the outer surface was made of adobe. The kiln had a furnace with several flues.
This settlement of early farmers was located on a cape, surrounded on three sides by a branch of the Qujayli River. Therefore, it must have been constantly endangered by river floods. To prevent damage caused by floods, these dwellings were protected by a dam. This structure was ten m long, two m wide, and twenty to twenty-five m high. The dam is one of the oldest hydrotechnical structures ever found within the Bukhara oasis. We have no doubt that it helped inspire the development of the first irrigation systems.
From A. Askarov's archaeological finds around the burial mound and the settlement, he concluded that the primary occupations of these ancient inhabitants was farming and domestic cattle raising. Many stone tools were found (including grain-grinders and flint points for sickles). Remains of wheat, barley, corn, and straw help us conclude that ancient farmers near the Qujayli River raised crops, reaped them with stone sickles, ground up grain to cook broth, and roasted wheat and corn. Bones of domestic animals show that the inhabitants around the Qujayli herded sheep, goats, and cows and utilized a wide variety of cattle-breeding products in everyday life. Beside the meat and fat from domestic animals, they produced a wide range of dairy products (such as butter) and cooked milk dishes, including milk soup, soup with pumpkin, sour milk, suzma, and hurt (dried-up balls made of liquid cheese).
Spindles and bone needles, found during excavations, show that they made cloth from animal skin, sheared wool from goats and sheep, spun threads, and wove overcoats. Agriculture and cattle breeding that began in this period became a reliable and stable source of production. Jewellery and implements that were used by women to apply make-up (such as ceramic vessels for eyebrow dye and bronze mirrors) that have been found in the burial mound allow us to assume that women in Zamanbobo put a high value on adorning themselves. They wore bangles, earrings, beads, and necklaces and used mirrors imported from other areas in exchange for local products.
Archaeological finds also show a high level of skill in the craftsmanship of the inhabitants of Zamanbobo: pottery, bronze-smelting to produce everyday utensils and women's adornments, and metallurgy for the manufacture of arms. However, most of the crafts were produced from stoneware, including hand-made ceramic vessels with either egg-shaped or flat bottoms, without adornment. A small portion of this ceramic ware was made on the potter's wheel. Among the artifacts were pottery pieces exported from Bactria and Margiana and adornments made of the lazurite from Badakhshan. There is evidence of exchange trading and contact with other sedentary agricultural communities that lived to the south, as well as with cattle-breeders who lived to the north.
A. Askarov asserts that the formation of the Zamanbobo culture was influenced primarily by the sedentary agricultural communities in the south. These communities were indigenous to Bukhara, engaged in hoe-cultivated farming and cattle breeding. Studies of a number of archaeological monuments have shown that many of these were from the Sapalli Culture in the Surkhandarya oasis, helping put the date of the Zamanbobo culture around the middle of the second millennium B.C.. The most identifiable aspect of the culture was the ceramic and bronze ware found in the burial mounds, dating back to the latest period of the Sapalli Culture (from 1750 to 1500 B.C.), similar to the archaeological finds From Zamanbobo. The evidence leads to the conclusion that these two cultures emerged in the latter stages of the second millennium B.C. and were closely connected.
Thus, in the mid-second millennium B.C. (3,000 to 3,500 years ago) in the Bukhara oasis, the first primordial agriculture and cattle-breeding settlements were located downstream on the Zarafshan River. In that period, people inhabited pit-houses and light huts. A wide variety of crafts developed including pottery, weaving, stone and metal ware production, though they had not yet achieved the level of skill that they would later on in history.
In the late second and early first millennium B.C., the Zarafshan River started to dry up. Primordial farmers from Zamanbobo and Karakul had to abandon the dry lands of the Qujayli and resettle nearer to the banks of the Zarafshan.
Simultaneously, a large group of semi-nomadic tribes, living on cattle-breeding and agriculture, resettled to the pastures in the Zarafshan River Valley from northern regions along the streams of the Syr-Darya River in the ancient lands of Khorezm. Since the artifacts of these primordial cattle-breeders were found first in Andronovo village near the Yenisei River, and then in Tazabagyap (Karakalpakstan), this culture was named "Andronovo and Tazabagyap Culture."
Archaeologists called these settlers the founders of cattle-breeding culture, which in the second half of the second millennium B.C. came from the steppes of Kazakhstan in the northeastern regions of Central Asia. S.P. Tolstov believes that their representatives appeared first in Khorezm in the mid-second millennium B.C. We know from artifacts found in this region that the inhabitants of this portion of Central Asia were cattle-breeders. Traces of their settlement have been found in the land and burial mounds uncovered in the Zarafshan River Valley, including twenty-six sites in Kashkadarya, five sites near old Lake Paikend, two sites in the old delta of the Vabkentdarya River, near the end Khodjazafaron well.
Should we rest upon from the arrangement of archaeological monuments, the newcomers to the lower parts of the Zarafshan River settled mostly along Qujayli, around the Kichik-tuzkan and the Zamanbobo, and near the shores of the ancient Lake Paikend situated on the lower delta of the Kashkadarya River. A flourishing culture in this region is evident from the many artifacts found in this area and later in Kaptarnikumi, Kamishli and Khukuz-kuduk, located south-west of Kichiktuzkan and Zamanbobo, including potsherds, stone-made instruments, and fragments of bronze ware. Some layers of these plots did not survive, due to erosion.
The artifacts and information from burial mounds are of special importance for studying the culture of these ancient cattle-breeding tribes, particularly their everyday life, funeral rituals, and the development process and level of their material culture. In 1951, Ya. Qulyamov was the first to discover and explore five similar graves in the lower area of the Zarafshan River near the Qujayli riverbank, not far from Lake Zamanbobo. The second burial mound was discovered in 1958, laying beneath the layers of the Kyzyl Kiers old settlement, dating back to Ancient Times. The dead were buried bent, lying on their sides with their heads to the east. Each skeleton lay near a ceramic vessel used for incense. In women's graves, stone and bronze adornments were found. According to the data from the archaeological mounds in the Akadarya River Delta (ancient Khorezm), these cattle-breeding tribes lived in small rectangular huts, half-recessed into the ground with a small hearth in the center of them. Such dwellings were intended for one or two families. Traces of small irrigation canals, found along the river valley, show that the people were engaged in pottery making and irrigation, along with cattle herding. Pottery making resulted in a range of ceramic ware, including clay vessels ornamented with geometric, wavy and arrow-shaped patterns. From melted copper and tin, knives, pricks, hooks, mirrors, earrings, bangles, beads, pins, and other adornments were made. These artifacts were found in the graves of Muminabad near Urgut. Gold and silver artifacts were also found. Flutes were made of animal bones. Traces of fabric (for example, the imprint of fabrics on potshreds) demonstrates that cattle-breeders spun woolen threads and wove domestic fabrics.
The population of the region on the Zarafshan River near present-day Karakul lived very near the inhabitants of the Zamanbobo. Eventually, these people became indigenous to the region. That is why anthropologists assert that these cattle-breeders were identical to the au-tochtons of the Zamanbobo, who in their turn resembled the sedentary agricultural population of the Sappali Culture who inhabited Surkhandarya.
An analysis of archaeological data shows another group that adopted cattle breeding lived in the lower part of the Zarafshan River in the late second to early first millennia B.C., called the Andronovo-Tazabagyap. This group came from the nomadic cattle-breeders of southern Siberia and blended with the peoples of the steppes in Kazakhstan, Khorezm, and Central Asia over the centuries. To a certain extent, they played a part in the formation of the Soghdiana culture. From that time, cattle breeding developed on the lower reaches of the Zarafshan River and, in particular, around present day Alat, Karakul, Djandar, and Ramitan. The ancient inhabitants of these lands found that they were good for hunting and fishing.
In the late second to early first millennia B.C., a cultural and economic advancement occurred amongst the cattle-breeding tribes who lived on the lower reaches of the Zarafshan River Valley and the Central Asian steppes.
A number of the semi-nomadic tribes that had settled along the riverbanks favored the establishment of settlements. However, the Mahandarya, Qurdush and Qujayli River basins were gradually drying up and becoming steppe-lands. New climatic conditions discouraged an ever-increasing population, thus providing no incentive to develop a sedentary culture. Semi-agricultural tribes abandoned these lands and moved north and northwest, to the present-day Bukhara oasis near Kyzyl-Kyr and Vabkentdarya, 20 km west of Varah-sha. They settled around Bashtepa. Archaeological finds dating back to this period, uncovered from the lower layers of the old Khoja-buston settlement near present-day Kyzyltepa, provide evidence of this settlement.
During this period, numerous rural settlements sprang up on the lower and upper reaches of the Zarafshan River Valley, near the mountainous rivers and springs. The development of farming, cattle-breeding, and material culture (in particular, metallurgy for manufacturing arms, tools, and jewellery), as well as extensive barter between farmers and cattle-breeders fostered urbanization and led to the formation of the ancient Soghdiana culture. This process seems to be connected with a newly discovered raw material, forged iron, utilized to make weapons. Archaeologists set the beginning of this period in the first millennium B.C. and call it the Iron Age.
Urbanized rural settlements of farmers and craftsmen appeared in the ancient Soghdiana culture of the seventh to fifth centuries B.C. They sprang up first in the middle Zarafshan Valley near present-day Samarkand and along the shores of lakes and small mountainous rivers (safs). As the population increased, more and more of the Zarafshan River Valley was inhabited, eventually extending to the lower reaches of the river. Evidence from excavations of such settlements in Kanimekh, the Navoi Region, and in Varahsha seem to indicate that the northern and northwestern territories of the Bukhara oasis (the Kanimekh and Vabkentdarya lower reaches) were eventually inhabited. It was here that the first rural settlements of sedentary farmers sprang up. However, the vast majority of the lands in the oasis were uninhabited open spaces covered with beds of reeds and bushes. The annual draining of the river formed a huge lake in the area of Bukhara and the river delta (present-day Karakul and Alat regions). Historical sources call this lake "Barghini farakh," meaning "Big Lake."
Mukhammad Narshakhi described the first settlements in the Bukhara oasis as follows: "people were coming here and settling. First they lived in tents and yurts. Eventually, they began building houses. Bukhara itself did not exist yet, but some qishlaqs (villages) had already been (established)."
Geographic conditions, under which farmers' settlements existed in the sixth to fifth centuries B.C., resemble the picture Narshakhi drew. Such settlements have been discovered and explored near Varahsha and Kanimekh nearly all the rural settlements were located on riverbanks. The close vicinity of water made small irrigation systems possible, thus favoring agriculture. Remains of such settlements are preserved five km west of Kanimekh at Kumrabad, Arabon-1, Arabon-II and near Chardara. Excavations of these settlements (in particular, at Kumrabad) have clarified the dating of early rural settlements in the Bukhara oasis, particularly in its northern section. The northern section of this area was destroyed by a hydrotechnical collector, but south of Chardara and half a kilometer south east of Kumrabad is a section a quarter of a hectare in size. The site is fortified and consists of nine rooms, a yard, and a pottery workshop and is surrounded by a thick ramped wall. Data on the layout of the dwellings and economy, particularly the material culture, was also extracted.
The walls running around the settlement and the walls of houses are made of adobe from 1.2 to 2.2 m thick and 0.6 m high. The pottery workshop is separate from the other structures, situated in the eastern pocket of the settlement. Excavations revealed a kiln 1.1 m in diameter, the upper part of which has now fallen into the furnace or lower part. Inside the kiln, pots made on a potter's wheel, basins, cauldron-shaped vessels, and many fragments of ceramic ware were scattered.
Of the archaeological monuments of Kan-imekh dated from the sixth to fifth centuries B.C., special importance is attached to Chardara, located five km west of the administrative center of the Kanimekh region. This monument is forty by twenty m in width and eleven m high. The structure is primarily built of adobe bricks fifty-six cm long, twenty-eight to thirty cm wide, and seven to eight cm thick. Pakhsi (adobe blocks) were also used. Doorways are made in the shape of an arch. Not far from the Shadibek and Kalkan-ata villages, burial mounds of ancient farmers were discovered. Despite the fact that the majority of the graves were robbed and destroyed during that period, excavations have revealed some information on funeral customs. The graves are from 2 to 2.2 m wide by 0.6 to 0.9 m long, rectangular, and ellipsoid-shaped nearer to the rims. The burial site, located in the center of the settlement, had a mound eighteen m in diameter and from 0.5 to 1.5 m high. Skeletons in the majority of men's graves lay near a grindstone with a hole in it placed near the hips of a skeleton. In one of the graves, archaeologists unearthed a skull with a bronze three-pronged arrowhead inside. Another grave contained only a skull and an earthen ware vessel. These objects were used to date the Kanimekh complex of archaeological monuments. In 1985 and 1990, researchers started exploring the ruins of rural settlements from the sixth to the fourth centuries B.C. that were discovered around Varahsha, especially in the western section of Bashtepa situated on the old delta of the Vabkent River (near Urtatepa, Chektepa, and Kushkirtepa). These settlements played an important role in forming and developing early urban culture in the Bukhara oasis. Narshakhi wrote in his description of the old settlement of Varahsha in the Bukhara oasis that it was one of the largest settlements and that "it is older than the city of Bukhara.
Narshakhi's descriptions are verified by archaeological evidence discovered from 1975 to 1977 in excavations made in the lower layers of the Varkhsha old settlement dated from the fifth to the fourth centuries B.C. Thus, in the sixth to the fifth centuries B.C., in the northern and northeastern sections of the Bukhara oasis, urbanized settlements sprang up. The dwellings of these settlements differed sharply from the huts and pit-houses that the ancient farmers and cattle-breeders of Zamanbobo lived in. Fortified walled settlements were built of large-size adobe bricks and pakhsi. Material culture was already rather developed in that time. These settlements became the foundations for future cities and urban cultural development in the oasis.
Urban development and urban culture are primary problems in the socio-economic and cultural development of any society. Therefore, archaeology pays special attention to these problems. In the 1960s, an archaeological expedition under the leadership of Ya. Qulyamov was organized to conduct research into the emergence of each city and the development of its urban cultural. Archaeologists started excavations first in the old cities of the Ferghana Valley, Kuva and Akhsiket, followed by Samarkand (Afrasiab), Karshi-(Erkuryan) and the old Termez settlement. Archaeological data taken from excavations in Afrasiab established the age of Samarkand, one of the most ancient of Uzbekistan's cities, as being 2,500 years old. This resulted in archaeological research into the origins of Tashkent, Bukhara, and the Surkhandarya and Ferghana regions. Thus, large-scale excavations took place in the old section of Bukhara between 1970 and 1974 under the supervision of academician Ya. Qulyamov and I. Akhrarov and, then again between 1977 and 1980 under the guidance of the author of this article. The expected results were received from excavations in the Ark and Shakhristan of Bukhara, especially near Taki-Zargaron, the Zindan, the Mir-i-Arab Madrasah, and the Sarayi Kazi Kalyan and Khaki Kazi Kalyan mahallas situated near the Kalyan Minaret.
During excavations, the upper layers, dating from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries A.D., were stripped away and the lower layers were explored with spades and ketmens (a kind of pick). Several exploratory trenches and holes were dug. Some exploratory holes reached a depth of twenty m. Underground water percolated into exploratory holes and trenches and was pumped out. The lowest layers were reached in almost all of the plots and were found to contain remnants of the earliest settlements that sprang up on the marshy lands under Bukhara. The thick cultural layers are unique treasuries that contain the legacy of ancient Bukhara. Archaeological finds unearthed from these layers attest that Bukhara is 2,500 years old.
An excavation of a 2,500 m- area 17.5 m deep was made between Mir-i-Arab Madrasah and the sixteenth century Taki Zargaron. Garbage holes, deep wells, canals faced with kiln bricks and pakhsi blocks, and traces of fires could be clearly seen along the sides of the excavation. These traces of the city's stormy history lasted many centuries and are speechless evidence of the numerous times that Bukhara has been destroyed and rebuilt.
Archaeologists extracted artifacts from the lower layers of the river slit and turf forty to seventy m thick. The lowest layer of dark-brown color, resembling humus, was discovered to be a solid shield that once covered the ancient continent. Turf layers contained potsherds and the bones of wild and domestic animals and birds. The layer is thicker southward, towards the Mir-i-Arab Madrasa, up to 7.5 m in the yard of the madrasa.
Information from these layers beneath present-day Bukhara support the description in riarshakhi's History of Bukhara, It confirms that "where Bukhara is situated was formerly a marsh. One part of the marsh was occupied by a beds of reed, while another part was covered with trees and glades. Some places were so hard to get through that no animal could pass through. Snow melt-water collected in the vicinity of present day Samarkand. The big river near Samarkand was called "The Mosaf River". It was full of water and carried slime up to Bitik and Farab, eroding large amounts of soil away. The river floods stopped and the place where Bukhara is situated was eventually filled, resulting in the formation of the Soghd River,- the area filled with slime became Bukhara".
Archaeological research has revealed that one of the branches of the Zarafshan on its lower reaches flowed near the future sites of such architectural monuments as the Ulughbek Madrasa, the Abdulaziz-khan Madrasa, the Taki Zargaron, the Mir-i-Arab Madrasa, the Kalyan Minaret, and the Kalyan Mosque. This branch was from 100 to 120 m wide. The early medieval sources call it "Zarirud", or "Rudizari Bukhoro". In ancient times the water of this branch of the river came nearer to Paikend. The flood land of the ancient river was covered with weeds that became the turf deposit that was found in the process of excavating Bukhara.
One can assume from the traces of big fires found somewhere near the lowest layers of the excavations that the first settlers who came to the territory of present-day Bukhara stopped and dwelled on the banks of this branch of the river, burning out forest to clear more land for farming. Marshakhi wrote: "People came here from everywhere and settled. The people who came from Turkestan liked the place, for in this land there was much water, plenty of trees and perfect places for hunting."
Excavations within the Ark have provided excellent information from which to study Bukhara. The lowest layer of the excavation is about twenty m beneath the old part of the city. Archaeological finds unearthed from this layer date from the mid-first millennium B.C. The most important data revealing information about the city's past were the remains of the fortification walls unearthed from 15.5 to 18.5 m depth; 2.5 to 3 m of the height of the first wall survived and 2 to 2.5 m of the second wall. The portion of the wall from the upper layers is dated from the third to the fourth centuries A.D., whereas that of the lower layers is dated from the fourth to fifth centuries B.C. Both walls were made of pakhsi. From this information, archaeologists have proven that the first settlement appeared on the site of the Ark in Bukhara. The settlement was located on the right bank of the Zarirud on a natural hill some four to six m high. Originally, the Ark was no larger than 1.5 to 2 hectares in area.
Archaeological excavations have shown the location of ancient Bukhara's center (ancient Shakhristan) to be to the east of the Ark, on the riverside. It was twelve to thirteen hectares in size. Excavations near Mir-i-Arab Madrasa have revealed the remains of ancient fortification walls 4.5 m deep. Dating from the fifth to sixth centuries A.D., they were made of pakhsi and large-size adobe bricks and five to six m of their height has survived. Over the centuries, the wall was destroyed and restored many times until it finally reached seventeen m in thickness. The road came between this ancient wall of Bukhara and the river. The southern city gates were situated in front of the square, between the Kalyan Minaret and the Mir-i-Arab Madrasa.
In the Early Middle Ages, it was called "Darvazai Madina". That is "The City Gates". Later, in the Late Middle Ages, a number of architectural monuments, including the Kalyan Minaret, the Kalyan Mosque, the Ulughbek Madrasa, the Mir-i-Arab Madrasa, the Abdulaziz-khan Madrasa, the Taki Zargaron, and others, were built alongside the street beyond the gate, on the old dried up riverbed.
The third settlement on the banks of the Zarirud was also walled and served later as the foundations of Bukhara. It was six to seven hectares in size, located to the south of the Kalyan Minaret. In the late Middle Ages, this settlement served as a residence and palace to kazi Kalyan (i.e. The Judge of Bukhara). Of the eighteen m of cultural layers revealed in an exploratory bore pit, nine m are from this old epoch. All of the unearthed artifacts are samples of high-quality products of the city's craftsmen. Two ceramic fragments found in the lowest layer in the exploratory bore pit, near the Kalyan Minaret, are of particular interest.
They differ radically from the rest of the potsherds found in the same cultural layer. Both fragments are of an off-yellow color and were produced on a potter's wheel. They are similar to the ceramic ware found on the old site of Afrasiab (known as "Afrasiab-I"). They are also dated from the fourth to fifth centuries B.C. and are identical to the Afrasi-ab-1 potsherds in terms of shape, quality, color and style. Regrettably, it is difficult to ascertain the shape of the vessel from the two ceramic fragments. This notwithstanding, the unearthed fragments signal the appearance of the cultural layers of the sixth to fifth centuries B.C. These finds are also identical to other ceramic ware dating from the sixth to the fifth century B.C. found in the Bukhara oasis, especially in the area of Kanimekh, at the following sites: Kumrabad, Arabon-I. Arabon-II, Chardara, Shadibek, and Kalakante. Similar ceramic ware was found to the west of Varahsha around Bashtepa. Therefore, one can summarize that Bukhara did not spring up accidentally, but was connected with the overall urbanization process that was developing throughout the Bukhara oasis.