April 24, 2014
Settlement on the Bank of the River Sayhun (Syr Darya)
90 km. off Tashkent there are ruins of an ancient fortress on the right bank of Sir Darya. Premises made of square baked brick and adobe brick are seen on the cliff; arch of the water main, and numerous Barbados (dirt pits) drop Sir Darya. Shakhrukhiya, the land of tribes of different periods, is the town of Tamerlane’s fourth son.

In the Spring of 1898 the people of the town were put into a flutter about the fact that the mighty Sir Darya crushes its banks, washing ancient dwellings out. Trunk boxes with ancient manuscripts and huge vessels were sailing down the river. Green coins and bright glazed cup were found on the bunk.

Amateur archaeologists found the remains of the ancient settlement, known as Sharkiya near the place where the Akhangaran River joins the Sir Darya. Along the bank there were deep wells, thick roofs of ancient buildings and underground utility system. Outside, the necropoleis with epitaphs dated back 15th to 17th centuries. Both findings and the name of the location reminded a name of the biggest ancient settlement associated with Shakhrukh, the youngest of Tamerlane’s sons. Archaeologists soon realized that Sharkiya was Shakhrukhiya, one of the large fortresses of Tamerlanes’ state.

By the 15th century scripts, Amir Temur, during his numerous travels to the eastern locations, appreciated the strategic significance of the location and ordered to build a strong fortress there. The fortress should have control the land and water ways. The fortress named after Shakhrukh, who received a lordship over the eastern land of Transoxiana. Under the name the city was included in the original pansophy “Oriental Library” by Antoine Galland, French Orientalist of the 17th century. Its popularity in the 17th and 18th c.c. made it republished four times in French and Dutch Languages. It informs that Shakhrukhiya “was built by Tamerlane on the bank of Seyhun or Yaxart Rivers with the strong wide bridge, and its harbor receives a lot of ships loaded with different goods. It is expected that Shakhrukhiya is that same town, which was ruined by Ghenghis Khan and reconstructed, and enlarged by Tamerlane and Shakhrukh.” However, the exact location was not pointed in the ancient sources. Many orientalists believed that Khodjent and Shakhrukhiya are different names of one place thanks the tales of heroic struggle of citizens of Khodjent against Ghenghis Khan’s troops.

The fortress was built with consideration of the location and its mastership – it was protected by the canals transformed into ditches and the river also with its steep banks. Speed of building astonishes owing to a novelty method of erection of fortifications, applied by Tamerlane in Samarqand. His contemporary, while depicting the peculiarities of the building techniques, points out, “It is a marvel that his noble mind hit upon the ideas which did not come to master-builders.”

Fortification study has shown that the technique of in situ thick wall building to protect from an enemy with battering ram was generally used.

Armor plates of Tamerlane’s warrior, excavated from cultural layers of a dwelling that hanged over Sir Darya, raised an interest in archaeologists as a unique reflection of that period. Buried in the ground for over 500 years the plates were damaged sufficiently. According to many details one may say that the plates of that type belonged only to notable warriors.

For some time Shakhrulhiya was the second capital of the Tashkent Domain. It was the period that agriculture, pottery, smithcraft, and jewellery developed. Well known memoirist Zayniddin Vasifiy says in 1518 that he had written a credential to Hussein, a craftsman, for the appointment of ‘the senior tailor man of Shakhrukhiya Domain.’ The town was a key trade point owing to its location on a river traffic artery as well as the border of a nomadic prairie, which was a vast market for product sales. That was a reason why the town collapsed. At the end of the 15th century Abdullahakhan the Second during his military expedition to Tashkent destroyed Shakhrukhiya. Population of the town spread along neighboring lands, but the developing town ruined.

It is clear today that Shakhrukhiya lays on the more ancient settlement, which dates back to thousands of years ago. It is probably the only site, which is associated with so many legends and precepts such as Zaripchol Abyss, and hidden passages over the river to the left bank of Oxys toward desert Malichqul, secret treasures, civilians chase for a goat, which ran on the roofs dwellings from Sharkiya to Ablyg. Notwithstanding the legends, one may read the information on battles with hordes of conquerors, dence building of the town, scholars and heroes of Sharkiya. This is the only town in the Tashkent Region, which is associated with Tamerlane. Today its transformation into an open air museum is a key process.

(Source: “Uzbekistan Today” newspaper)


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