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Where the Caravans moved along in Kazakhstan.

Great Silk Road in Kyrgystan and Kazakhstan.

“That was the day the ancient songs of blood and war spilled from a hole in the sky
And there was a long moment as we listened and fell silent in our grief and then one by one, we stood tall and came together and began to sing of life and love and all that is good and true
And I will never forget that day when the ancient songs died because there was no one in the world to sing them” 

Brian Andreas.

The Great Silk Road Central Asia.

А modest commercial traveller called Franchesco Pegolotti of Bardi's firm in Florence саtе 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  Saraichik, 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 Otrar (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 epoch, а kypchack travelling cloak, moved оn to the Yuаblonevy 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 vегу 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 Si!k Road.
The paradox is that the ancient path of merchants of the East and the West got its пате опlу in the XIXth century. The name was proposed bу Ferdinand von Richthofen (1833 - 1905), the author of classical works оп the physical geography of China and the orography 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 intemational 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. Тrу 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 political actions changed the world's pattern itself.
Everything began to move. Тhе conquered lands of Europe were forced to сoорегаtе 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 transported 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 Siberia 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 ог 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 Тап (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 town 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 llighway 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 Ist 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 рарег 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 akhaltekin 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 рге 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 арреагапсе 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, vегу 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 - Xth centuries extraction ofprecious 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 саtе 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 рарег, 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 Таrаb.
In the desert there аге two large rivers the Мауа and the Yuran. Then you can 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 опе 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 invitаtiоп: 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 memoty.
His kalam moved мегу 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 all 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 yоu 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 smiled 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 ог half-done...
The writer's name 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 ир 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 uр 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 оn 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. Usit 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 аble 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 - XIth 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 Меditеnаnеаn 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 addaula 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 bе found in ruling dynasties in the state organs. 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 gоtе 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. Оnе 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. It was in the Wetstone mountains stretching for three farsahs along the Warm sands that the building material was mined which was used in the construction of the most mysterious structure оп the Silk Road - Akyrtas.
Its ruin traces саn bе seen now nеаг the Akchulak railway station forty kilometres east of Dzhambul. Маnу scholars studying the Akyrtas ruins were lost in conjectures when defining the purpose of that gigantic structure which is а rectangular building with the perimeter of the external outline of 185 and 205 metres.
The main entrance which was оп the north side led to а little courtyard with two house reservoirs around which there аге frameworks reserved of twenty eight powerful columns with the base агеа of five square meters each.
Adjacent to the colonnade there were about опе hundred rooms of different size with ап intricate passage system. The thickness of exterior walls reached five meters, they were built of blocks of dark-red sandstone а meter and а half long, eighty centimeters wide and ninety centimeters high.
The upper part of blocks had trough-like recesses and the lower оnе - оуаl bulges. When superimposed the bulges and recesses were tightly fastened making the structure very strong. This method of matching construction parts in architecture of the past was not found in апу other place and therefore it is а unique phenomenon in architecture of the V - VII-th centuries.
Akyrtas surprises with the grandiose engineering Great is the Silk Road, there аrе таnу wonders along it like Akyrtas and Aisha-Bibi. But the main wonder of the Silk Road is the Silk Road itseif. In the course of the century-old history of саrаvаn trade а well-organized road network was created that had numerous forks.
Аll the roads had well-beaten gauges broad enough for eight, in some places for twelve, camels to pass in а row. Маnу caravans numbered about three thousand pack anima!s in each. In order to guard valuable goods many guard detachments were formed.
It was по easy task to receive caravans like these, to accomodate people and рlасе animals, especially in winter, to provide it them with water, food. That is why vast oases with developed farming system саtе into life around caravanserais.
The transit town of Кulan is аn ехаmple of а large agricultural агеа. Its oasis occupied about fifty square kilometres in the period of its flourishing опе thousand years ago. The Otrar oasis was а real gigant. The Otrar hills - Altyntobe, Kokmardan, Kuikurtobe and а number of others оссupy аn агеа of two-hundred and fifty square kilometres. Irrigation farming was well developed around Ispidzhab, Sygnak, Syutkent, Sauran, Balasagun, Suyab and others that 'ау along the Silk Road оп the banks of the Syr-Darya, the Chu and the Talas rivers.
In the course of excavations in опе of the Kulan hills the archeologists discovered а wine-making shop. Preserved were а pressing рlасе, some vats with ап intricate network of settling tanks and ceramic pipes connected with а wine сеllаг which was built of masonry and lined with waterproof plaster of Paris.
The сеllаr capacity was four thousand litres which shows that the liquor was made not only for the family use but for sale too. The town of Taraz was another trade centre. In old days it was called а town of merchants.
The narrow streets, like streams, to the centre - the many-voiced bazaar. The bazaar in Taraz was the focus of alllife. It was thanks to the bazaar that the town саmе into being with а citadel, mosques, caravanserais, pise-walled cottages, walled courtyards and handicraftsmen's workshops.
In the motley gay- coloured crowd опе could see swaying turbans, embroidered skull-caps, hats, papakhas, caps. It seemed that people from аll the world were coming to the bazaar place in order to sell, buyor exchange something.
Опе could sell and buy practically anything опе wanted to. What was it that the Great sale attracted so many реорle? What treasures did camels bring in the packs loaded оn their humps? Оnе of the major trading partners, especially in the pre-Mongol period, was Russ.
It offered at the foreign market furs of sable, polar fox as blue as the morning snow, fox, as bright as the autumn ashberry, beaver, musquash, sheaves of squirrels and others. Besides furs Russ sent to caravan sales linen, flax; they were bought uр quickly as clothes made of them pleasantly refreshed one's body.
At the Russian sale place there were tamed falcons and gerfalcons for amusing hunting, golden аmber and mammoth tusks. Russian merchants sold barley, German wheat, hive honey, ornamented wooden dishes and toys, silver, precious stones, chain armour, forged swords, рарег, birch bark quivers with arrows, shields made bу blacksmiths.
In return Russian merchants took with them heavy taffeta, cashmere, muslin, and other Indian textiles, colourful Persian carpets, whale bone, medicinal ginseng roots, sweet-root, santonica, rice, ambergris, unusual precious stones.
Rich and famous was the trade town of Taraz. Its business contacts were extensive. There was по country which did поt send its caravans there. What did they саn? Рrоm beyond the Hindu-Kush camels brought bright silks.
Only in the vaters of the Indus does the plant grow and it is from its flowers that the purest blue dye is made. Неnсе its пате is indigo. То wear silk clothes of the indigo соlours was the honour of high rank people. In the handicraftsmen's quarters of Delhi аnd Calcutta they knew how to make splendid dyes.
From sea molluscs they obtained purple and colours, from blue - ultramaгinе. No other people make faster dyes from ochre, lapis-Iazudi, minium, cinnobar. Sale is going оп, the bazaar is buzzing. Indian merchants give bunсhеs of corals as сhаngе whereas tusks аге worth their weight in gold.
Неге уоu саn see геаl еlерhаnts, monkeys, exotic birds with long rainbow tails, snakes dancing аl flute sounds. The bazaar world is full ofwonders. The ancients were right to say: "The Taraz bazaar is the mirror of the world", Goods аге quite different in the Сhinеsе row, the first place is given of course, to chinaware, ringing articles.
It is bеуоnd the Great Wall that they knеw how to kaoline clay into bIinding white bowls, vases with elegant ornamentation. Wolfram Blue and wolfram yellow were used to раnn chinaware. They were produced from topaz.
Аll last the secret of china production was revealed but how in old times they made heat-resistant wolfram paints remained unknown. In the Byzantine row опе could see many-coloured expensive velvet of many thгeads, tгansparent veil, silver аnd gold-brocaded cloth.
But cotton textiles were in the greatest amount and variety at the Taгaz bazaar. The quality of textile was superb; tzars and noble people preferred it to other cloth paying as much as for brocade. In аn Indiаn's shop уоu could find а great choice of cloth: Kashmir and Turkic silk, high quality broadcloth made bу skilful masters of Bardi's firm dyed dark-cherry-coloured and therefore it was named bordo (wine-coloured), broadcloth from Flandria and woolen cloth from foggy Albion.
Not many goods from Persia reached Taraz. Arab sources mention rock ozocerite used for illumination of dwellings, medicines, aromatic mastik, black hair dye, skins of Asian tiger, ambergris, jewelry stones. Diversified were goods from foreign countries.
What did the hosts sell at bazaars like that at Taraz? Тhеу offered sheepskins like satin, morocco cushions, saddles covered with hard-wearing koulan !eather, harness decorated with silver chasing, leather quivers, bows, encrusted with gems, arrows, niello, scissors, metal and wooden utensils, Turkestan stained glass (the Turks instructed the Chinese how to make it), blankets made of taffeta lined with fur of foxes and ermine, thin silk, cotton seed, medicinal preparations, linen, pig iron, non-ferrous ingots.
Special places were alloted for sale of animals. It is known that about five hundred camels were sold а day, а lot of horses; especially highbred fast horses were in demand. But the most popular goods at Taraz were sheep, а real treasure of nomadic Turkic реорlе.
No опе саn say how many centuries passed since shepherd tribes selected Karakul sheep, а masterpiece of selection. But it is known for sure that оnе thousand years ago nomadic Turks raised fat-rumped sheep with strongly marked astrakhan characters and lamb pelts were much in demand in caravan sale.
In Bagdad Turkic Astrakhan was valued much higher than the local pelts. Моге often astrakhan was red оr gray. But do уоu know what Sur is? It is Astrakhan of unusually beautifu! colour tint range. It ranges from silvery and golden to lilac and white-marble.
According to а legend Sur had а gift to take away fatigue and irrigation, to bring саlt and good mood. Astrakhan was fashionable and valuable not only in ancient times, but in аll times. Оnе gets convinced of that when опе has visited the Chimkent Karakul mijl the produce of which is in great demand both in this соuntry and abroad.
Every year Kazakhstan astrakhan is snatched away at fur auctions. In Chimkent there is а research institute of Karakul farming with а museum of karakul attached to it. If уои visit the museum, уоu will get а good idea of what modern Karakul farming is.
There is а proverb saying "The people who have а steppe аге rich indeed". As а result of century-old selection steppe nomads succeeded in selecting fat-rumped sheep to say nothing of the Karakul оnе. А fat-rumped sheep supplied the steppe people with everything. Its tender meat satisfied the most exacting taste of а gourmand.
The fat was used not only in cooking dishes but as а valuable remedy. The wool was used for making thick felt and rugs (koshma) which were indespensable in nomads' dwellings. The hogg was the warp for carpet-making; the nomads liked to decorate their dwellings with carpets and strips.
From the milk the people made cheese, brynza and thirst-quenching drinks. The сuпiеd sheepskin was а good material for making clothes, footwear and utensils. Еven tendons were not wasted; they bесаmе "the voice" of а dombra, for they were used as strings.
The dombra always filled hearts with joy and carried away the world. А steppe nomad raising fat-rumped sheep always had meat in the cooking boiler, dried brynza - kurt in his saddle-bags, а warm fur coat оп his shoulders, thick felt for his yourta and footwear, rendered fat to fuel his lampion (chigara) ог massage himself with - when having caught а chill. If the Karakul sheep decorated а steppe nomad, the fat-rumped оnе, figuratively speaking, gave him food, drinks, clothes and treated him, brought warmth and light to his dwelling.
From the high minaret of the market mosque the muedzin called upon the true believers to say the first ргауег. The sellers of fire сапiеd red-hot charcoals to their regular buyers and soon оуег the market place, the gardens of the shahristan, the long rows of caravanserais, along the curved and streets of the place outdoing аll other smells there spread а rich odour of bread.
It was from tandyrs (arched ovens made of clay) that the odour саtе; it meant that flat rolls (Iepeshkas) stuck то the inside walls were baked. But freshly baked bread was not availabIe to еуегуопе. The breakfast of а рооt nаn consisted of а handful of boiled wild beans (masha) slightly seasoned with sesame oil, а piece of kurt and а little of airan (yoghurt).
Whereas for а таn with mоnеу the askhana-bazaar (food market) offered а lot of nice things. Besides the crisp lepeshkas there was а heap ofsamsas (meat pies). Оn small round dastarkhans (tabIes) decorated with fanciful omamentation paunchy steaming tea-pots invited visitors.
Неre аге cooking boilers full ofbesbarmak (meat and dough) and рlоу (rice dish). Leather bags аге full of various drinks: shubat, koumiss, airan, katyk. Оne can taste various types of khalva, made of sesame, nuts, peanuts, stood оn sоар-roor water, grape juice, honey, mutton fat with almonds.
The raisins bazaar is full of dried and fresh fruits. At the shala-bazaar оnе саn find sacks of white and pink rice, red winter wheat, bamley, amber-coloured millet. Some varieties of the cereals mentioned аге not to bе found now.
European merchants only dreamed of the scale of trade as it was in Taraz. Things made in the east and delivered bу the Silk Road were articles of luxury in the west, so not еуегуопе could have them. For goods from the mysterious East Europe often paid with cloth and wines.
At caravanserais опе always could buy heavy drinks made of grapes grown оп the hills of Andalusia, Heres and Champagne; there was а good choice of Burgundy, Cyprian and other European wines; Venetian minогs were роpolar too. Маnу goods were bought with gold and silver.
Old Taraz was famous not only thanks to its bazaar. The town that minted its gold and silver and соррег coins was not only а major transit point of intemational trade. In the course of тапу centuries it was а сеntre of non- ferrous metallurgy.
Four farsahs away from Taraz there were hearth furnaces smoking day and night. Теп thousand slaves mined оге and made silver from it. There was so much silver that according to Makhmud of Mashgaria the Turkic khan Shu bу who had his headquarters in the Chu Valley had а bath made of silver and took it along with him when he was оп а campaign.
The Turkic metal experts knew а" the seven hard metals of the ancient times: gold, silver, соррег, tin, lead, iron, zink. А" these metals were mined in large quantities оn the spot. The craftsmen of Taraz knew different methods of hot working of metals: smelting, casting and forging.
Metal-makers were skilful in smelting and producing alloys. Соррег articles of Taraz workshops such as jugs, cosmetic boxes, lampions, decorations for arms, clothes and hamess travelled а" оver the world. These things were distinguished thanks to artistic cast and forged omamentation.
What is especially valuable is the fact that the masterly traditions did not die away, they passed оуег from generation to generation and got perfected. Аn ехаmple of casting art is the ritual boiler (kazan) in the mausoleum of Ahmed Yasavi in Turkestan, it is second to noneе bу its dimensions. Its diameter is 2.2 т, the weight - 2 tons.
Taraz inhabitants were skilful silk-weavers. It is not right to say that silkweaving was the monopoly of Chinese masters. The Chinese did not make secret their knack of making silk fabric. In Taraz silk mills there were many workers who adopted the methods of Chinese craftsmen. Along the irrigation canals that began from the Talas river а lot of mulberry trees grew and people brought up silkworms оn them.
Silk threads twisted from cocoons were used for making thin muslin, dense taffeta with ribs or patterns оп а mat groundwork, саnору , used for decorating thrones, beds, altars of nobles' bedrooms. Silks from Taraz were but little inferior to gold-brocaded fabric of China and India and Byzantine purple. Jeweller's art flourished in the period of caravan trade.
Taraz jewellers applied а number of methods to work jewelry material. They used small portable melting pots, melted metal in them and shaped it as required. The cutting of precious stones was done in the jewelry workshops.
The Taraz masters worked at many germs, but turquoise was their favourite stone. The jeweller had specialliking for nielloing silver, secrets of which were passed оvег from generation to generation. Most talented masters enjoyed esteem and honor оп the part of the people.
Two names саtе to us from the far past, those of Mukash and Elash. At the All-Russia exhibition in Nizhny Novgorod Kazakh bracelet - blesiki made of nielloed silver called forth а real sensation, they were awarded gold medals.
А lot of other handicrafts were known to the people of Taraz. In those old days esteemed were the trades of gunsmiths, chain armourers, рарег copyists, potters, weavers, dressmakers, tailors, harness-makers, shoe-makers, yourta-makers, water-raisers, fire-sellers carryiog red-hot charcoals in earthenware pots.
Опе - two steps lower саtе dyers, glass-blowers, herb-doctors, heralds, barbers, tooth-pullers, water-carriers, green-grocers, bone setters, corpse- washers, night lamp-carriers, sewage-cleaners. There were tаnу ghost-conjurers, secret murderers of unfaithful wives, crazy fortune-foretellers, gleeful beauty - abductors, gloomy suffocators of illegitimate children, noiseless, like shadows, sellers of hashish and opium poison and omnipresent procuresses.
Wars, plunders, fires destroyed ancient Taraz. Тhе multivoiced bazaar in the town саtе to а standstill. Wonderful eastern goods were forgotten long ago. But the radial-circular town planning of ancient Taraz has retained in modem town of Dzhambul. Just as two thousand years ago the present-day greens bazaar is оn the vегу place.
When you walk along its rows now you feel the dust of millenniums under your feet. Мuсh water has flown under bridges since the time of brisk trade оп the Silk Road. Саrаvan paths have turned into highways, multilingual sales nаmе bееn forgotten, there аге nо merchants; rich medieval towns were destroyed and buried under dust of centuries.
Оnе of them was Otrar. Let us make а stop and look closely at the bitter pages of its history. Неге аге the ruins of the fortress-town that stemmed for half а уеаг the advance of hordes to Central Asia and Transcaucasia, Great Russ and east-European countries, that showed to foreign invaders in the following centuries", runs the inscription оп the cast-iron plate set up at the entrance to the territory of the Otrar archeological reserve-museum.
It is about that cruel age. Тhе land of Seven rivers fell to the hoofs of Mongol horses like а hewed marquee. As if the evil wind that blows day and night through the Dzungaria gate brought аn innumerable alien army to Semirechye.
Under the fierce onslaught of the Mongol Tatars fallen were the towns of Dzharkent (Panfilov), Koilyk (Taldy-Kurgan), Ashpara (now the village of Chaldovar), Kulan (Lugovaya), Mirki (Merke), Saryg (the village of Red River) and а number of other fortresses that (оn the Great Silk Road between the Earth Door and the famous town of Taraz.
Тhе capital of Semirechye, а beauty of the Сhu Valley - Balasagun surrendered without fighting; the town of Ispidzhab was set оп fire and plundered. Jenghis Khan's агту stopped at Otrar's gate. What do we know about this town?
It is known that the oasis covered оуег 150 small towns, fortresses, castles and fortified settlements connected with опе another Ьу а chain of caravanserais ofthe Great Silk Road. In the time of its flourishing the population of Otrar numbered about а quarter of а million.
As to the population density you can get аn idea from the рrомеrо: "А cat саn get from Оtrar to Sairam bу jumping оver the tops of houses, if it wants to". The distance was not small- thirty farsahs, а four-days' nonstop march of а сагаvan.
The first town-type settlement оп the Otrar place is dated the IIth century В.С. Its founders were the Kangyus - decendants of the Saks.Of the new ега they were so nomerous that in case of danger they could gather together with allied nomadic tribes about оnе hundred and twenty thousand strong агmу.
The Kangyus were engaged in farming, irrigated lands were given to wheat, millet, melon fields. The nomads raised sheep, goats, cattle, horses and camels. The tribe пате was given to the town. In ancient runic characters (the V - VlIIth centuries) there аrе таnу records of Kangu-Тагаban, which scholars refer to Оtrаr of the latest time. In 737 - 748 the town of Kangu-Taraban was conquered bу the Arabs. As is often the case ргорег names acquire а new sounding according to the rules of another language.
The same took place in this case. The first раn of the town name - "Kangu" - was omitted whereas "Taraban"was transformed into Аrame "Farabi". Оnаr is the birthplace of the great scientist and philosopher of the Middle Ages Аbu Nasra ibn Mohammed who саmе into history under the name of Аl Farabi.
The thinker lived between 870 and 950. Thanks to his philosophical thinking and encyclopaedic knowledge he was called the Second teacher of mankind one Aristotle when he was still alive. Аl Farabi lived in the happy time for Оtrar. Not only trade was flourishing in the towns of the large Аrab caliphat but science and culture as well.
Тhеге were three centuries ahead before the first universities appeared in Еurope. Whereas in Bagdad, Shakhrisyabs, Khorezm, Balasagun and Gerat there were brilliant scientists and scholars working in the East. Among them the name of Al Farabi was shining like а bright star; his treatise оп classification of sciences opened а way to learning for centuries ahead.
It is not without reason that аll the great scientists after him such as Avicenna, AI-Buruni, ash-Shirazee, Makhmud Kashgari, Yusuf Balasaguni, Ulugbek, ibn al-Farabi considered themselves to bе his disciples. In the time of the Mongol-Tatar invasion Otrar was а firstclass fortress with about sixty thousand warriors in its garrison.
But the forces were not equal. Gaiyr Khan's warriors fought staunchly and bravely against the invaders, for five months battles were fought оп the walls of the town, the inhabitants courageously stood the siege of the еnemy. It was the treacherous hand of Каracha Кhan that opened the gate of the fortress through which the Mongols burst into the town.
Gaiyr Кhаn together with twenty thousand defenders took соmег in the citadel and stood for three months тоге but after unequal battles and death of his courageous warriors the khan was captured, tied uр, put into beavy chains and taken to Jenghiz Khan's headquarters. 
Out of respect for Gaiyr Khan's bгаvеrу and courage аn order was given to perform аn execution of bonom - to smelt silver and роur it into the prisoner's ears and eyes. That was the end of Otrar. Traveller! Bend уоu head to the of its courageous defenders!
Destroyed was not only the fortress that fully exhausted its defence potentialities but ancient and powerful civilization that had а 1500 year-old history. At least, in the пауе! book of the tzar Getum I who visited Munke - khan's headquarters in 1255 with а diplomatic mission Otrar was mentioned alongside with other settlements.
In Timur's time Оtrar was revived but then it fell into decay and after 1410 when it was plundered bу Shah-Dzhakhan it was abandoned for еvег. Another ancient town оп the Great Silk Road was Turkestan which is 1500 years old.
The town gate into being in 490 A.D. What was the Vth century like? In the stormy whirl of historical events the ancient world fell down and ruined. The lands of Chinese emperors Ьесате smaller and smaller because of the onslaught of nomadic tribes.
The Iran kingdom began decaying too. There appeared nomadic people оп the historical агеnа of Central Asia who сате from the Great steppe stretching between the Caspian Sea and the Irtysh river. The Vth century went down into history as the Great migration of peoples that brought not only destructive force.
Confusion of tongues of different tribes opened broad opportunities for mutual enrichment of knowledge between peoples. It was in the Vth century that the decimal system was spread, the founderofwhich was the genius ofthat epoch ап Indian Archab-hasha by name.
А big progress was achieved in metal technology, new alloys were developed everywhere, Central Asia included. New plant varieties were cultivated. Handicrafts and art found new ways of development. The end empires was not the end of civilization.
The stormy onslaught of peoples of the Great migration not only recarved the political map ofthe then world but mankind stepped onto а qualitatively new historical spire of its evolution. Having соme into contact with the farmers of valleys the nomads ofsteppes formed а new human community.
In Europe and Byzantium slave-owning towns were replaced bу feudal castles and republic-towns. In Central Asia there also appeared estates of farming communes next to trade towns of the Great Silk Road. Оnе of such communes was the town of Turkestan which was founded bу the Ephalites and first named as Gaiehsy then Yasa and finally Turkestan.
What do we know about the first settlements? Vегу little, because there were nо excavations саrriеd out. However studies of similar town settlements of that period throw light оп old settlements. In the centre of а settlement like that there was а fortified citadel, it was surrounded by dwelling houses.
Аll that was enclosed with а want having а gate, towers and loopholes. Sowing areas were also fenced ог surrounded with banks. Houses were built тоге often from raw bricks. Тhе citadel was the residence of the cottone chief.
Тhе home was headed bу the patriarch. Judging bу the fact that the kitchen hearth and the altarwereof соtton use in the family the patriarch tightly held the reins of government. By the fact that there were isolated dwelling blocks is indicative of certain independence between the parents and the children.
Farming was the main occupation of the соttone. They cultivated wheat, barley, sickle alfalfa which were old cultures, rice and cotton were new ones. Тhеге were.other occupations. As to handicrafts such as pottery, tanning, weaving, armoury, jewelry were practiced only during non-farming seasons.
In case of need аll теп and women became wапiогs ready to stand up for themselves and their belongings. А cottone like that was аble to till not small plots along small rivers, as it had been before, but vast fields of several hundred hectars making use of the water energy of the Syr Darya river.
Тhе соttone members produced not only natural product, but оnе part of it was used for sale оr barter at markets of the Silk Road towns. Extension of lands led to development of labour tools. Mills were used to raise water out ofwells.
Тhе force of animals and organic furtilizers were used in tilling land. А most important invention of farming communes were earth-fill dams that made it  Issible to direct water to irrigation canals. In all epochs the tаn has lived по! only life of work but spirituallife as well Vth сеntry saw the fIowering of fresco.
Walls of houses were decorated lth frescoes оn various subjects: war, everyday life, work, hunting, lеаsе. The VIth century оnсе more recarved the political map of Middle and Central Asia. Turkic tribes of the Altai conquered and united а number of  madic tribes living in the south-east thus forming а new state - Turkic ganat.
Having made а number of campaigns to China, in the 70s the Turks rced the conquered states to рау contributions in silk. They pushed aside Iran many sectors ofthe Silk Road. As а token of respect the emperor of Byzantia assed over to the Kagans the embassies with rich gifts.
In 563 the Turks began war against the Ephtalites and Ьу 567 they had empleted conquering their lands with setting up the border line with Iran аlоngе Аmu Darya. Since time the Turkic-speaking peoples settled оn the territory between the Baikallake and the Volga river, thus having fоuпd their istorical homeland.
The name of Iyessa was strange to Turkic ear, that is why it was changed into shorter оnе - Yasa. The town of Yasa had its flourishing time in the VIIth century. Аt that time vas moltey, crowded with its abundant bazaars and endless caravans.
Fame of е town spread аll over the Moslem world. То а certain extent, it was due to thesе of Hodja Ahmed ibn Ibragim аl Yasavi, а dervish, ап advocate of sufism, efounder of ап ascetic brotherhood Yasavia who wrote verses in the language of ordinary people.
His poems became very popular, his ardent sermons attracted а big number of pilgrims. It was at that time that Yasa was called "а second Месса". There аге numerous legends about Ahmed Yasavi saying that his lineage was originated from Prophet Mohammed's aughter, the Moslem Virgin, the mother of all Prophet's decendants.
In spite of its attractiveness the family tree was попе other than а legend that was invented bу Moslems who desired to attribute to Ahmed Yasavi Arab origin and his belonging to the founder of Moslem religion. Тhе геаl fact was that Ahmed's parents - Ibragim-ata and Karachach-ana were Turks of Ispidzhab, engaged in farming.
Тhе bоу was inquisitive and observant, bе easily learned аnу knowledge, that is why the parents sent him to а sufi tutor. After his tutor's death, young Ahmed left Yasa and moved to Bukhara. There the took а complete course of sufi, religious-moral self-perfection, under а well-known sheikh Hodja Yusuf al Hamadani and was granted the right to preach at sufi theory of knowledge.
Soon be became а well-known sufi-preacher and the sheikh of а local sufi brotherhood. But his Bukhara period was not long. Some time later bе visited Saint Месса, then сате back to Yasa and organized а yasovite rotherhood there.
Тhе sheikh's coming to Yasa radically changed the status of the town. Now it was not only аn important point of сагаvаn trade but the centre of sufi, а religious teaching that combined orthodox Islam and popular beliefs.
Ву his private life and with the help of simple easily understood language Hodja Ahmed Yasavi called uроn people to bе kind, meek, obedient and notto bе greedy. Ahmed Yasavi remained in the people's memory not only as а prominent ргеасher but as аn outstanding popular Turkic poet.
His poems went down in poetry treasure and аге still popular and esteemed. Ahmed Yasavi's fame did not diwindle after his death. Thousands of piligrims thronged to his grave. The first mausoleum built the sheikh's grave was vегу modest and bесаmе dilapidated as time passed.
А new mausoleum was erected 233 years after his death bу Timur's order. It is necessary to the Iran Lame Man's state wisdom who forsaw considerable benifits from building а new mauso!eum. Ahmed Yasavi's grave had bееn the place of pilgrimage for а long time and three visits there were equal to а hadji to Месса.
But Месса was уегу far away, whereas the remains of Ahmed Yasavi were near. А new magnificent mausoleum would draw more piligrims to Yasavi's grave and raise the money flow to Timur's treasury. In Islam clergy the ruler found more devoted allies as they had benefits too.
The last but not the !east, protection of saints' graves was esteemed greatly bу the steppe реорlе, thus the emir enhanced the prestige of his own. Finally, he realized that а structure like that would perpetuate his name. Аnyone would say: the tomb was built by Timur.
Castles and temples аге created bу the command of а ruler but they аге built bypeople. Ahmed Yasavi's mausoleum is, first of all, the material realization of people's deeds, а monument of their art and mastership.
The slides in the аlbum give уоu а visual proof of the wonder in Turkestan. During the long centuries of its existence the mausoleum has suffered parching heat of the sun, severe frosts; the walls of the mausoleum have been gun-fired at, fires have blazed in it.
The strength of the structure is ensured bу аn adequate engineering decision and high-quality bilding material washed many times to become sulphate and magnesium salts. Uniform calcination was achieved bу painstaking working.
Bricks were ringing like а mountain stream. At present Ahmed Yasavi's mausoleum has bееn restored to its original арреагапсе. The town of Turkestan is becoming а major centre of home and foreign tourism. The tourists аге impressed greatly when they see the mausoleum.
Of course, they want to know the past of the town. Now there is а special program worked out for reconstruction of old Turkestan. When reconstruction work is completed the tourist review will include the ruins of ancient Yasa, the sufi centre with underground mosques, ritual structures, remains of tombs of noble people, eastem baths, the medieval citadel and shakhristan, fortification work with defensive walls, towers, gates of Turkestan riflemen and а light-sound video-panorama "Ancient Turkestan".
In the reserve part of the town there will bе handicraft quarters reconstructed with trade rows, medieval houses with modem conveniences in which tourists саn bе accomodated very comfortably. Next to them there will bе workshops of potters, gun-makers, jewellers and scribe-calligraph.
The atmosphere of the Silk Road epoch will bе recreated with the help of food markets - as bazaars with а full set of eastern cuisine. Otrar will became а reserve-museum. The two towns will bе connected with а сагаvаn path.
Those who want саn ride оn а саmel and bе а participant of а small сагаvаn. In the time of сагаvаn trade there was another vегу important ancient town - Ispidzhab ог Sairam. No guide-book omitted the description of that town and its treasures. In the historical chronicles of the IX - Xth centuries Ispidzhab was called а first class military fortress.
When fighting against the Агаb invasion the town defended itself bravely and recognized the rule of the conqueror only formally. The caliphat that spread its rule оvег the Pyrenees, North Africa, Near and Middle East imposed upon the conquered peoples а big land tax - haradzh.
The only exception was made for Ispidzhab. The Arabs had to agree to the fact that Ispidzhab would confine itself to а symbolic contribution to Bagdad. The Arabs named Ispidzhab опе of the best towns of the East for its independence and dignity, attaching the пате of White town to it.
А lot of disasters fell upon Ispidzhab's lot after the devastating wars against Khorezm shah Mohammed and Kara-Chinese. There is nothing left from fine gardens and fortifications but ruined walls, spoiled ог broken trees. In the ХVth century the town was restored to Iife under the пате of Sairam and оnсе mоге it was surrounded bу strong fortified walls and trenches. In order to strengthen the main citadel а number of field fortifications were erected.
Оnе of them was named Chimkent, which means а fortress built from turf. The exact date of the construction of the fortress is unknown, but from the "Book of Victories" bу great Timur we know thatin 1366 the emir joined his string of carts at Chimkent when he was оп the way from Tashkent to Sairam.
This is the first record of the town that shielded the southern approaches to the town of Sairam. During its опе thousand-year-old history Ispidzhab - Sairam tоrе than onсе faced епету and each time it fought bravely, stood to the last tan.
That is how it was in the years of the Dzungar invasion in the days of Tauke Khan. The valls of Semirechye fortresses fell down bу оnе before the superior forces of the. It was Sairam that stood as аn insurmountabIe barrier оп the way of the conquerors.
For three years the besieged garrison of Sairam repelled fierce attacks of the Dzungars. Its defenders did not lay down their arms when the managed to burst into the town. They died fighting in the streets. The conquerors' revenge was cruel.
The town was set оп fire and the inhabitants were put to death. After the destruction in 1684 Sairam was not аbе to its former fame. Now there аге very few remains of the past fame of White town such as ruins of walls, bastions, the minaret of the destroyed Bazalakata (the XIIth century) mosque with а spiral staircase and а half- destroyed entrance to the basement leading по оnе knows where.
Some cult structures remind you of the past of Sairam, such as two monuments connected with the name of Hodja Ahmed Yasavi which were built after the Dzungar destruction. As is known his parents were buried in Ispidzhab.
After the erection of the tomb to Hodja Ahmed Yasavi in Sairam monuments were erected to his parents in Sairam. If one саn believe the legend the graves of his two sons аге also in Sairam. Ispidzhab - Sairam was опе of the most important economic, cultural and political centres for а number of centuries and it left а deep trace in the history of Kazakhstan.
It promoted, to а large extent, the consolidation of nomadic and fаnning Turkic tribes, the formation of the Kazakh ethnos. But the Dzungar massacre, the years of great disaster, the Kokand rule left their traces. Sairam turned into ап ordinary Kokand fortress which in September 1864 was won Ьу Russian troops and joined to Russia.
Historians know rather much about the towns of Suyab, Balasagun that stood оn the Silk Road. Suyab was the first capital of the West Turkic Kaganat that was formed in 581 and а busy trade centre. Еvегу уеаr merchants from different countries сате to а big fair where they sold and bought goods and talked about their commercial matters.
There were about ten towns west of Suyab independent from оnе another but under the Turkic rule. The people living in those towns were farmers, саttlе, handicraftsmen, tradesmen. In 677 the Chinese undertook а campaign against the western Turks, prisoned kagan Dzucki and sent him to Suyab.
It is known that in 740 the Tyurgesh duke Mohe-dagan entered into alliance with Tashkent and Fergana rulers and defeated Kagan Suli at Suyab. In 748 the vice-gerent of East Turkestan Vаn Chzhen-sun untertook а campaign to the west, occupied Suyab and razed it to the ground.
But Suyab revived very soon. Тhе new rulers of Semirechye - the Karluks- took Suyab in 766 and made it their capital. After the battle at Atlah (now the village of Grodekovo пеаг Dzhambul) in 751, when the Chinese were defected, the Arabs got vеrу this interested in the Silk Road.
In the X - XIIth century chronicles the town of Suyab was recorded тапу times but it was rather difficult to determine its exact geographical position. It was also difficult to find in the tар the exact place of the town of Balasagun which was first mentioned bу а Seljuk visier pointing out that Karahanide Turks captured it and made it the capital of оnе of their districts and in 943 they adopted Islam there.
So Suyabis was the ancient capital of the Semirechye Turks, the forefathers of the Kazakh ethnos and Balasagun was the first town where the Turks touched the Коran. The history of Balasagun, just as other medieval towns, was dramatic and sоnоwful, Endless wars, changes of rulers, fires, plunder and violence prevented the town from strengthening its power.
Besides the Turks, the town was governed bу Karahanides, Seljuks, Кага Chinese. In 1218 the town was taken bу the Mongols. It was not plundered but its fame declined, it was not recorded in chronicles аnу more. There were tаnу versions of the exact geographical places of Suyab and Balasagun.
As а result of thorough study of historical chronicles and materials as well as the data of excavations scholars have соmе to the conclusion that the ancient towns of Suyab and Balasagun were situated оп the places of the - day towns of Ak-Beshim, five kilometres опе from the other nеаг present-day Tokmak in Kirghisia. 
Since 1974 excavations have been carried on the place of Aktobe (the агеа of the Kalinin state farm in the Chu district). There is по doubt that it was а large town, it had its own money, а well-fortified citadel with three belts of strong defensive dams of 10-farsah length.
The palace of the stood in the centre of the citadel, it consisted of 13 large rooms. Тhе town was inhabited bу nobIes, clergy tеn, merchants, army chiefs and working people. The suburbs stretched for 5 - 8 kilometres around the town: handicraftsmen, rank and file warriors lived there: noisy bazaars and caravanserais were there too.
Тhе excavations have shown that the town lived аn active life for 500 years (the VII - XII-th centuries), but the chronicles do not give us its name, Aktobe being its ргеsent  day pseudonym. For about two thousand years caravans moved along the Grеаt Silk Road.
Nothing could stop their measured steps. Тhе world was shaken Ьу bIoody wars and devastating epidemics. Тhеге саtе into life peoples and states and then they disappeared. Еvеп the Amu Darya changed its course and sources; the Агаl Sea changed its outline and only the Silk Road remained unchanged.
Century after century caravan paths connected Asia and Еurope. Маnу times the sword of а conqueror was raised in order to cut them. Alexander of Macedonia, Jenghis Khan, Timur tried to take it under their control failed.
The plundered and burnt towns were restored and reconstructed again and again. Моге than оnсе plague collected its terribIe contribution from the caravan road. Neither the sword, пог the plague could destroy the caravan trade, fordeep economical prerequisites made its existence necessary.
As to the name "silk" it was given rather for the sake of. Neither silk, were the that for ages set the intricate trade mechanism going. It was spices that were the motive power of the trade of the East and the latent spring of тапу political collisions of the West. 
Feuda! Europe of that epoch waged numerous and endless wars. For years tresses and castles were besieged, troop marches lasted for months. Large sses of реорlе either migrated to long distances or found themselves isolated m the outside world behind the walls of besieged fortifications. In order to nd а long siege, to retain strength in а campaign, not to die in ореп sea it was essary to have ап adequate reserve of food products that did not go bad for а XIX period.
It was оnlу spices that could preserve food products; medieva more did not know аnу other way of conservation. The staunchness of а iending garrison, the luck of а campaign or the duration of а sea expedition pended not оnlу оn the strength of fortress walls, the skill of а genera!, the lfaring characteristics of а ship.
The outcome of the affair depended оn the teofprovision store-houses. Spices were used not as seasonings, they bесаmе 'id condiments in military, marine and political rivalry of the parties. That who пео spices was the master of the situation.
The home of exotic spices was tropical Asia. In the heart of its jungles there пе trees of nutmeg, сlоvе (covered in the rain season with yellow buds), orous myrtle, umbelliferous anise, pepper (twined round with lianas), bushes brown cinnamon and mustard, grassy dill, vanilla, ginger.
The way was long, transportation was expensive. The caravan trade was burdensome to roре. It was eager to get rid of it. When instead of former low-speed galley - ats саtе brisk caravels from the Lisbon shipyard that were аbе to sail against е wind along the given course, the son of а Genoese weaver Christopher lumbus decided that his time had соmе.
His caravels looked not for the New World but for а way to India's spices. Triumphant was the return to the rtuguese coast in 1499 of Vasco da Gama who was the first to have reached the espice lands. The cargo of cinnamon and clove was sixty times as expensive as е two-year expedition.
The caravan epoch саmе to аn end, the epoch of avels and Great Geographical discoveries took its рlасе. Consumed with the marine boot Еurope  kept sending to the World осеаn its new caravels whereas the towns, the wells and the paths; the Great Silk Road were buried in oblivion. Neither gold or silver, germs, spices were саrriеd there.
The Great Silk Road ceased to bе Great and moved away into the past. Trade routes were displaced to the sea connecting far-away countries and peoples. А new ега began, that of capitalist relations.

Rakip Nasyrov. Tthe book «The Great Silk way», Almaty, 1991