Sarazm - world heritage of the Tajik land

15 km west of Penjikent, closer to the Tajik-Uzbek border, on the left bank of the Zeravshan River, the oldest settlement of the proto-city type, 5500 years old, is located - Sarazm. You can get to it from the regional center by passing transport to the neighboring villages of Sahibnazar, Gurach, Avazali.

An ax helped to open the ancient settlement. More precisely, not the ax itself, although it also became a participant in the events, but the observation of a local resident of one of the villages, a veteran of the Great Patriotic War Ashurali Tailonov, who found a bronze ax near his house. Ashurali recalled that he had seen a similar ax-adze in the Panjakent museum. The vigilant citizen reported about the find to the local archaeologist Abdullodzhon Isakov, who began in 1976-1977. together with colleagues, exploration and archaeological excavations. This is how an accidental find helped not only to immortalize the name of the discoverer, but also became a place of numerous pilgrimages for historians, archaeologists and, of course, tourists - is it a joke to see with your own eyes the place of life of a settlement that is 5,500 years old. Since 1984, French and American specialists have joined the work. Since then, the study of Sarazm has not stopped, and the number of expeditions has increased. For example, in 2018 alone, there were 15 of them.

It is noteworthy that the original area of ​​the settlement was approximately 100 hectares. But as a result of irrigation and sowing work, a significant part of it was destroyed. Currently Sarazm is a small upland about 1.5 kilometers long and 400 to 800 m wide. Its untouched part is about 30 hectares. That is why in 2003 the President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, during his visit to Sarazm and the historical and cultural reserve organized around it, instructed to pay special attention to the ancient monument. Then the territory of the reserve was fenced off to ensure greater preservation of the artifacts, and 5 archaeological sites were covered with metal structures. In 2010, the ancient historical monument "Sarazm" was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

In the history of the settlement of Sarazm, archaeologists have identified IV main successive chronological periods, each of which gives its invaluable information.

For example, the second excavation, where buildings of all four periods were uncovered, showed the presence of residential, palace, economic and religious buildings in the settlement. Thus, residential architecture is represented by multi-room houses with a partially preserved wall-fence. An interesting fact is that throughout the entire existence of Sarazm, his houses underwent significant restructuring and systematic development - the dwellings were divided by courtyards, streets and lanes. And the economic functions were most often performed by the courtyards, where various workshops and pottery kilns were located. A characteristic feature of Sarazm's architecture are narrow corridor-shaped granaries.

During the excavations, a monumental public storage was also uncovered, erected on a square brick platform 15x15 in size and 0.7 m high.Cult functions in the settlement were performed by domestic sanctuaries with round hearth-altars in the center, which gradually acquired larger dimensions and changed their round shape to square.

In some cases, the sanctuaries were built separately from residential complexes, playing the role of public cult centers, the walls of which were often decorated with pilasters (outside or inside) and, as a rule, were painted with either red or blue paint.

In the second horizon of the 5th excavation, a round structure was discovered, of which only low rows of bricks were preserved. The building is a geometric regular circle of two rings. The diameter of the outer ring is 7.7 m, and the inner ring is 4.25 m. The outer ring is made up of two rows of flat lying bricks measuring 52x25x10-11 cm. The first (inner) row is laid with the long sides of the bricks along the circle, and the second is perpendicular to the first. Thus, the bricks fan out the outer ring. Between the two rings, there is a circular corridor-shaped space 75 cm wide.

The rituals associated with the cremation of animals were performed in the largest central room with four bypass corridors, as evidenced by the large number of bones of small and cattle on the floor and a fireplace in the center containing burnt bones and ashes of burnt animals. Within the walls of this room, there were slit-like windows or special vents leading into the bypass corridors.

The material culture of the ancient settlement is simply amazing and is represented by a rich collection of ceramic, metal, stone and bone products, testifying to the high level of development of various specialized industries in Sarazm. The most developed of these is the production of ceramics, which is considered a unique example for the whole of Central Asia and the Iranian plateau.

Such a flourishing of production is a senior researcher at the Institute of History, Archeology 

and ethnography of the Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan, Abdurauf Razzakov, who has devoted more than 35 years to the study of Sarazm, connects it with the trade routes that passed through the settlement even before the appearance of the Great Silk Road in the 6th century BC: “The trade routes“ Tin ”and“ Lapis lazuli. It was trade that was the main reason for the transformation of the settlement of Sarazm at the end of the 4th millennium BC into a real center of trade. But later, due to severe drought, many residents of the ancient city were forced to leave this territory. The traces of resettlement dating back to the Bronze Age are still found near the territory of modern Samarkand and on the foothills of Mastchi. "

The origin of the word "Sarazm" is most often associated with the Sogdian "sari-zamin", meaning "the beginning of the earth." And, indeed, Sarazm seems to divide the Zeravshan Valley into flat and mountainous parts. And in its appearance there are features similar to the features of modern cities in the south of Turkmenistan, in Afghanistan and in the east of Iran, which arose as a result of the urban revolution that took place in 3500 and 2500 thousand BC. e.

In the exposition of the Dushanbe Museum of Antiquities there is an exhibit called "Princess of Sarazm" - a skeleton of a woman from the Sarazm necropolis, around which several thousand different beads (steatite, lapis lazuli, carnelian, turquoise, silver) were found used to decorate clothes and cover the deceased. Her hair was adorned with 49 gold beads, and she held bracelets made from Indian Ocean seashells. The skeletons of a man and a girl were also found in the necropolis. But besides age, the princess's height is also interesting. Museum staff say that she was a fairly tall woman, something about 180 cm.

Every year a huge number of people want to get acquainted with the place of the "beginning of the earth", including not only various scientists, historians and archaeologists, but also just curious people. And 2020 will become a kind of anniversary year for Sarazm - the settlement will celebrate its 5500 years. Anyone can attend large-scale events.

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