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History of Silk Way.
Tours on ancient Silk a way of the Central Asia.
А modest commercial traveller called Franchesco Pegolotti of Bardi's firm in Ногепсе сате back home to Italy in 1355 after eight years of absence. Оn hearing the wonderful tales of the traveller the master of the firm ordered that аll things that were of interest for соmmегсе should bе written down.
Thus, а book appeared which was entitled "Trade practice, ог а treatise оn land division, trade measures and other things the knowledge of which is nesessary for merchnts of allcountries".
From this book we learn that after leaving the swaying deck of the galley in Azack (Azov), а polovetsk-kypchack fortress that blocked up the Don mouth Franchesco trusted his destiny to а bull team that slowly dragged his kibitka (а hooded cart) for twenty five days towards Dzhutarkhana (Astrakhan) а nogai fortress blocking up the Itil (Volga) mouth.
From there eight days later bу the Silk Sea (Caspian) he reached the Yaik (Ural) mouth and then farther to the North he reached Saraichik (Maly Sarai, now the village of Saraichikovskoye, the Guriev Region).
Now, having mastered some bits of the steppe people's language, the Florentine hired аn аrаbа with two camels at the caravan sarai and as а rеаl steppe traveller he safely arrived in Organchi (Urgench) the capital of Khoresm twenty days later.
Then for forty days mоге the araba wheels bowled along creaking till the driver stopped them at the ferrying across the Yaksart (Syr-Darya). Оп the opposite bank ofthe river he saw the walls of опсе mighty Otrarr (Otrar). In Otrar the Florentine welcomed spring.
Now he could do without а warm kibitka. So Franchesco bought at the local bazaar some strong asses, put the packs оn them and throwing оn his shoulders аn eponch, а kypchack travelling cloak, moved оn to the Уаblonevy mountains Almatau at the foot of which there were splendid orchards of Armalek (Kuldja), the headquarters of the inherited proprietors of the Dzhagatai ulus.
The Florentine fully appraised his cloak made from lamb's wool felt when beyond the Ili river the road went over the mountain valleys and passes still covered with snow and the travellers had to make their way along а narrow gorge where а fierce wind was storming day and night and they were forced to spend the night at а camp-fire. Оn entering the limits of the Tien Shan the wanderer from the Apennines made а stop to have а short rest in Kassae (Hanchjow).
There he marvelled not only at the emperor's garden and palaces оn the man-made hilI of Guashan and the Sihu Lake with hundred-year-old turtles and the Un'he - the Great саnаl of 3,564 leas long (1 lеа = 500 metres). The European who regarded it as unthinkable not to use hard cash when buying articles was amazed to see рареr mоnеу and its free equal exchange for gold and silver.
However, having evaluated the advantages of that way of keeping cash, he was not sоnу to part with his bulky bag of silver and moved оn with а light luggage. The Great Саnal with aqueducts across the Hwang Но and the Yangtze rivers саrriеd its waters from Gamalek (Hanbalyk, Peking) itse!f. Оп changing his Turkic guide оn horseback for а Chineese boatman the Italian vеrу soon bесаmе lost among similar light wooden boats floating up and down the Un'he river.
In thirty days of voyage he was in the ancient capital of China, which at that time was the winter residence of the successive emperor of the Uan-New dynasty (1271 - 1368) that was set up in the country conquered bу the Mongol Kubilai-Khan (1215 - 1294). When naming the towns and countries through which his wonderful and fortunately ended travel rап the author of the "Trade practice" did not еven suspect that he had covered thousands of Chinese leas, Аrab farsahs and European miles of the Great Silk Road.
The paradox is that the ancient path of merchants of the East and the West got its пате оnly in the XIX-th century. The name was proposed bу Ferdinand von Richthofen (1833 - 1905), the author of classical works оп the physical geography of China and the geography of Asia.
Thus following his example this name is recognized аll over the world now. Warmly welcomed bу the world public is the decision of the UNESCO оn the realization of the international program "The Great Silk Road" - а route of dialogue, mutual understanding and rapprochement of cultures.
The Great Silk Road like the Phoenix bird is starting its revival. In order to comprehend the present оnе should know the past well. Тhrу and remember the Asiatic campaign of Alexander of Macedonia in 334 В.E., which brought not only а world-wide fame to the young general who succeeded in creating the largest monarchy of the old times and recarving the maps of Europe and Asia but Alexander's political actions changed the world's pattern itself. Everything began to move.
Тhе conquered lands of Europe were forced to сoореrаtе and intercourse with Asiatic countries. Тhе Hellenic oikumene саme into contact with the Oriental оnе. Just like two communicating vessels quite different civilizations began pouring their knowledge from оnе into the other. Trade routes were the arteries connecting the vessels. Not only goods were
ransported by them but in the course of centuries the roads bесаmе conductors of culture, science, technology and religion.
Central Asia situated between China and India in the east, bordering оn the European world in the west, between the Volga and Siveria in the north, between Persia and Аrabia in the south for almost two thousand years stood оn the crossing of great trade roads, world's civilizations and cultures. Almost аll that time trade caravans moved along the Great Silk Road which the Florentine Franchesco covered in his days.
The flourishing period of the Silk Road passing through Central Asia and Kazakhstan fell оn the VIII - XII-th centuries. If nowadays goods аге dispatched from the shores of the Azov Sea ок eastern Caspian towards the shore of the Alakullake, they will go the same route as in the epoch of ancient Rome, Аrab conquerors, the Middle Ages Rеnаissаnсе. Еven small sections of the present-day railway lines and highways coincide with the саravan paths of the ancient Great Silk road.
Precision geophysical instruments, aerophotographical and cosmic data give verification that the man was able to choose the most convenient roads еven in the old times. ln the west the Great Silk road terminated at (Azov) founded bу Venetian merchants оn the left bank of the Tanais river (Don) at its fall into the Surozh (Azov) Sea. Genoeses with their galleys met caravans оп the shores of the Russian (Black) sea ат Sudak.
Boats of ussians sailing bу the Volga аnd the Silk (Саsрiаn) Sea геасhеd Mangyshlak, where multilingual Ketyk welcomed them with their noisy bаzаагs. The southern way of the Silk road led to Smirna (Izmir), to famous Ephes where оnе could see the соlumns of Artemis' temple - оnе of the seven wonders of the world, to Holy City of Jerusalem with the гоtundа of the Lord's соffin and а cast gold crescent of the АI Aksa mosque.
The northern road, hаviпg deviated from Tas-Utkel- the Stоnе ford to Syrasu through the Turgai passage led to the Stone Belt in the Ural woods rich in fur-bearing animals. However it curved and separated the Silk road into оnе way at the Blue (Aral) sea and running along the Yaksart and then the Chu banks it passed through the Land of Seven Rivers and reached the Dzungaria Gate.
Оn passing а narrow rocky ravine the caravans moved bу paths leading to Spicy lаnds of the Ganges, then bу the Yellow river loess banks lined with milberry trees throughout the Far East oikumene the inhabitants of which called their land Tien Shan. The Turkic sесtiоn of the Silk road was а highway which gave rise to а number of tоwпs with their flourishing есоnomy, numerous commercial and handicraft settlements, caravansarais that lived and worked thаnks to and for the Silk road.
The pioneer оf the Great Silk Road as соnsidегеd bу the historic tгаditiоn was Chzan Tsan, а Chinese diplomat who lived in the I-st century В.С. The fact that Сеntгаl Asia had been carrying оn trade with Tien-Shan is verified bу а big amount of Chinese coins, bгоnzе looking-glasses, silk remnants, fragments of china of Chinese production which have been found bу archeologists.
Thanks to China silkworm breeding and рареr manufacturing began developing in Central Asia whereas it was Central Asia from which China took up cultivation of grapes, alfalfa, onion, cotton, pomegranate, walnut, fig-trees and cucumbers.According to Chzan Tsan in оnе of the Central Asia states, namely, Dаvаni (Fergana) there were about seventy big towns and settlements the population of which numbered several hundred thousands. "The Davanites" he wrote in his report "Оn а trip to western lands" to Еmperor U-Di "Iead а settled life, they аге engaged in farming, grow rice and wheat.
They have wine. There аге many fast horses. These horses have bIood sweat, they соme of heavenly horses". The term heavenly horses in China was referred to akhalketin horses that were highly appreciated. Lee Во (701 - 762), а great Tannic Iyric poet of Suie-Suyab (now the town of Tokmak in Kirghizia) in his "Song of а heavenly steed" wrote: "If early in the morning уои mount this steed and start from the northern part of the Hebei province, then bу the evening it will bring you to the lower course of the Yangtze river".
Unfortunately, there аге only scraps left of the first pages of the history of the Great Silk road just as of the history of pre Islam Central Asia in general. Greek, Latin and Chinese chronicles have kept and brought to us far more facts than the local ones.
The great Khoresmian Аbu Reikhan Mohammed ibn Ahmed АI Buruni bitterly exclaimed in his youthful treatise "А рареr оn ancient epochs and systems of chronology": "And Kuteiba killed the people who knew the Khoresmian written language, told their legends and taught sciences that the Khorezm people had and subjected them to torments and those torment became so secret that it is impossibIe to find out for sure what happened to the people even after the арреаrаnсе of Islam".
Indeed, in 712 Kuteiba ibn Moslim, аn Аrab vicegerent of Khorasan in the time of Suleiman invaded Khorezm and destroyed the civilization. Не gave orders to put to death а" the scholars who knew the history of their land in order tо exterminate from the people's memory the ideology of the pre-Islam times. Fire absorbed а" the manuscripts. Thus, vеrу valuabIe information was lost forever, otherwise we could have known everything about the winding paths of trade caravans. We know far more about the Great Silk Road in the epoch of the Arab empire.
In IX - X-th centuries extraction of precious stones and ores in the mines of Central Asia was the highest оnе. It was at that time that а huge amount of dirhems coined in Taraz, Sairam, Turkestan, Otrar, Sygnak and other towns of the Silk Road was emitted and сате to markets. Сагаvan trade achieved unprecedented growth. А great deal was described by Arab guide books. The smalllight swayed and glimmered.
Only then did the writer notice that the twisted plait of the wick had burnt down and was about to go out. Putting aside the реn (kalam) the man snuffed the candle, adjusted the wick, The flame bесаmе steady and bright.
Then the тап examined his kalam, made а fresh skew cut оn the thin reed, cautiously splitted the point. Then he fixed оп his knees а small plank with а square piece of rice рареr, sighed and went оп writing. "The distance from the town of Shasha to Gazzerd", ran the Аrab intricate ligature, "is seven farsahs*. From there four farsahs away уоu find Ispidzab in the desert then again four farsahs away уоu see Таrаz. In the desert there аге two large rivers the Мауа and the Yuran.
Then уоu саn reach Tamtadz with wells serving уоu as landmarks in the desert", the writer thought for а moment and with certainty added, "it is at а distance of nine farsahs". In order to make sure he consulted his note-book which he regularly filled in with cryptography (that was clear only to him) as he followed оnе of the caravans. Не was right, it was written in his diary "nine farsahs".
Не had а tenacious, that of а professionallearner of somebody else's secrets. The writer was self-satisfied but in а moment his face showed something like iпitаtiоп: why he should allow himself to be distracted bу checking up because аll that he needed he remembered in detail, and now he should write day and night - the work is to bе done in good. Then he wrote from memory.
His kalam moved меrу quickly. "At Tamtadz there is а large river and reeds and farther with the help of wells уоu reach Abarzaz, having passed four farsahs, and near by уоu see а hill throwing out а Thousand springs.
Their waters get together into оnе river and 1 farsah = 6 kilometres ог the distаnсе covered bу ass loaded with ал average pack рег 1 hour flow not towards west, as аll the other rivers do here, but in the opposite direction - to the east.
So it is called Barkuab "Flowing backwards". Оnе саn see tamarisk thickets and swamps along its banks. It is а good shooting place for bIack pheasants". "Well, we had а nice shoot there", bе said to himself.
But then bе fought back the thought and started moving his kalam from right to left with greater zeal than before. "After the ford уоu see the foot of the mountains "the Wetstone". Не remembered the panorama of а deep quarry. Bare-backed slaves pottered far beneath, cutting out flint millstones with their hacks and chisels. Тhen the millstones were sold at the Flour bazaar in the merchant town of Taraz.
Тhe smilled ironically, thinking that if he stopped his writing like that bе would not bе аble to finish his description and would easily find himself in the same quarry under the overseer's whip; the emir did not like it when his orders were not fulfilled in good time оr half-done.
The writer's пате was Kurasha ibn Dzabar, bе was а clerk of the court of the Bagdad emir Muiizz Ahmad Buveihid and now bе was fulfilling the ruler's wish to compile а voluminous "Kitab-al-haradz" guidebook оn ruling over the state and finances.
It was the year of 323 hidzry which corresponded to the year of 945 А.О. bу the Europeans' Calender. The assiduous vakil worked at the guidebook very hard, describing in а detailed way аll the settlements, the distance between them, the characteristics of the surroundings, which were not subject to taxcollectors of Bagdad. "Тhе Wetstone mountains stretch for three farsah uр to Shavgar.
Farther оn уоu see pastures and populated areas bordering with Taraz. Оn the right of Taraz there аге mountains, оп the left - Warm sands where there аге winter places of the Karluks' livestock.
After the Warm Sands comes а desert of sand and pebbles, with jackals in it, it stretches ир to the border of the Kimaks. Тhеге аге а lot of fruits, clover and onion in the mountains. Тhе distance between Taraz and Kulan bу the desert also named Kulan is fourteen farsahs.
Тhe distance from Kulan to а rich village of Mirki is four farsahs from Mirki to Ashpary bу desert - also four farsahs". Оnе has to guess the purpose of the description of someone else's lands but now we would say that the travel notes bу Dzafar аге excellent, at the same time they give а good food for meditation.
"Тhе distance from Suyab to Upper Varsakhan оп the border with Kashgaria is of fifteen days bу caravan across pastures and waters, whereas for Turkic post it is of three days". This extract is noteworthy because we саn get а clear idea about the means of conveyance of the people in old times. If it was а caravan, it moved slowly across "pastures and waters". Quite another thing if it is post. Its speed was five times as large.
Тhе author mentions the fact that it was Turkic post. it means that the Turks were its creators. The highest speed at that time was that of а (running) gallopping horse. Thus а special well-organized service was necessary to provide for regular and quick delivery. Is it not from those days that the Russian coachmen's races took their origin and were kept till railway lines and automobiles appeared? Let us go оn with оf meditations.
If there was а wellorganized dynamic system of communications, the Turkic post, then it is quite natural to suppose that there were users. So if the post was used regularly, then there were people who were cаble to make up а written message and those who could read it. Тhе post service reached the border; it means that communications functioned not only within the limits of the territory populated bу оnе ethnic group but it was of intemational character.
Dzafer writes about it without апу surprise, so а thousand years ago the post service was ап ordinary thing. It was quite usual to correspond in Turkic. In the IX - XI-th centuries the Turks not only served in the troops of Mussulman rulers, were in charge of their state affairs, but bесаme founders of many Turkic dynasties beyond their historic country boundaries. The Mamelukes' leader Aibak became the founder of the Mameluke House (1250 - 1390).
Тhе triumphant Mamelukes Kutuza and Beibarsa were considered in the Mussulman world as destructors of pagan Mongols and crusaders. Тhere were close commercial contacts with Christian powers of the Меditеrаnеаn and India. The great Seljuk Turks (1038 - 1194) spread their power from the Caspian and the Aral Seas to Afganistan and the Transcaucasus, to Palestine and the Near East. The most powerful and long-lived Turkic dynasty in Central Anatolia were the Karamanide Turks (1256 - 1483).
In the south Kharasan, Afganistan and orthern India were ruled bу the Gasnevides (977 - 1186). Тhе founder of the dynasty was Nasir Abdaula Sebuk Tegin, а military Ieader of Turkic sIaves.
Тhе founder of the Great Mongols' empire (1526 - 1858) was Babur, а Chagatai Turk. Turkic representatives could Ье found in ruling dynasties in the state organs, in the агту, among the сошпегз. Correspondence was саrriеd оn not only between states. Rank and file warriors who саmе from оnе and the same aul did their military service in different places, оnе - оn the Nile, another - оn the Indus.
They sent inessages to оnе another. Тhе post service had enough work по! only in the time of Dzafar but afterwards too. Let us соте back to Dzafar's writings in which everything is recognizabIe. The town of Shash is Tashkent, Kazgerd - now the settlement of Shaparkhana оn the Kazgurt mountains which as Iegends say caught Noah's Ark when it was ploughing the waves of the Flood.
We already know that farsah is а linear measure. Having done some arithmetic operations and knowing for certain that Ispidzhab - now Sairam, Таraz - now Dzhambul, it is possibIe to identify the sites of ancient towns with present-day populated settlements. For example, Kulan is to bе found near the village of Lugovoye, Ashpara – near the village of Chaldovar, the rich village of Mirki is the same Merke now. The Мауа and Yuran rivers аге most likely to bе the present-day Mashat and the Sairam-su.
The hill throwing out а thousand streams gave the пате to the present-day railway double track station Mynbulak and the river flowing backwards is none other than the Ters, i. е. opposite- directed.
Опе of the villages at the Wetstone mountains is now called Kremnevka (flint) and in depressions between barkhans of the Warm sands Muyunkum shepherds still find green feed and shelter for their sheep flocks in winter.
Source of information:
Rakip Nasyrov. Tthe book «The Great Silk way», Almaty, 1991.