“Ancient Khorezm is the Egypt of Central Asia ”-The archeologists
searching the ancient traces of human civilization achieved great
successes through exploring the ancient land of Khorzem. They testified
again that the culture, art and history of Khorezm are entwined with the
development of Central Asia."
------- S.P.Tolstov -------
Geographically Khorezm lies in the east and the south of the Aral sea, on both sides of the lower
reaches of the Oxus (Amudarya) river and around its delta estuary in Turan. It also comprises
the formerly inhabited areas between the Amudarya and the Syrdarya rivers as well as the
southern parts of the arid plateau Ust-yurt, southwest of the Aral sea. Politically it is within
modern day Uzbekistan and constituted a great portion of the ancient Great Silk Road.
The name Khorezm appears in the Avesto, a Zaroastrian religious text, which illustrates the
course of events in Eastern Iran and Central Asia, during which time the society comprised of
different classes of economic disparity. Avesto informs the functions of clergies, army, farmers,
craftsmen, and slaves altogether which formed the first statehood. The events in Avesto occurred
in a land “Arianam Vayja” as the translation confirmed by scientists as Great Khorezm.
This empire included Praurata (Parfiya), Mouru (Marv), Gava (Sagdiana), and Khveyrezm
So the first statehood developed in Central Asia in the first millennium B.C. Bactria in the IX-
VIII century B.C and in the lower reaches, south of the Aral sea (Northwest of Uzbekistan, North
west of Turkmanistan). Khorezm developed in the VI-VI century B.C. as kingdoms. Bactria and
Khorezm shared frontiers in the middle Amudarya river delta. The first artificial irrigation
construction in Khorezm dates back to the VI-V century B.C. Population was mainly occupied
with agriculture in the villages, and craftsmanship and trade in urban areas.
The archeological excavation confirms that Khorezmians were not only occupied with trade and agriculture but also with science. Khorezmians had sophisticated knowledge of astronomy
and mathematics. They invented angle measuring equipments and used them in their scientific
researches. Astronomic and many natural sciences developed in ancient Khorezm.
The constructions of such equipment survived until this day.
One of these constructions and cultural heritage of Khorezm is
Koykyrilgan Kala. It’s located few kilometers north of the Amudarya
river. The construction dates back to the IV century B.C. The fortress
functioned as a burial-ground for the rulers as well as observatory for
astronomic studies. During the excavation the archeologists found
another interesting document that supposed to be the calendar of
Khorezmians dating back to the III century A.D.
The Khorezmians, for instance, based their prosperity exclusively on
their trade with the Turks, and became chief representatives of the merchant class throughout the country, especially in Khorasan.
They could be found in considerable numbers in every city
of Khorasan, distinguishable from the local inhabitants by the high fur caps which are worn in
present-day Khorezm. The development of material prosperity was accompanied, not
coincidentally, by that of intellectual pursuits. Almost every teacher at that time could number
some Khorzmians among his disciples. This stands in direct relation to the high level of learning
in Khorezm itself, particularly in Kath and Guganj, at the end of the tenth and beginning of the
Khorezm was one of most important lands in Central Asia with its commercial, political, and
cultural development from the VI century B.C until the XIX century A.D. Thanks Khorezm’s
strategic location on the Great Silk road from Iran to India, it actively participated in fostering
relations among various cultures and kingdoms. Therefore traders, craftsmen, scientists and
architects visited here as an important destination. So the Great Silk Road was not merely a
caravan trade route but it also played an instrumental role in the development of civilization of
Muhammad Rkhimkhan II the eldest son Seyid Muhammadkhan was born in1844 in Khiva.
The prince was educated by the teachers of khan’s palace until the medrassah age. Then he continued his education at one of famous medrassahs of Khiva. He could speak, write, and read in Turkish and Persian. At the same time he was taught by the famous irrigation engineer, poet and historian of the khan’s palace Agakhiy.
Muhammmad Rahim the prince acceded to the throne at the age of 19 in 1864. Development in each sphere of life in the country were initiated by the khan. And its people enjoyed his untiring care of order, culture, social life and freedom during his reign. He gained peoples’ respect especially when he managed to keep Khiva khanate independent from Russian forces until the late 19th century. He was not only the ruler but skilled musician and poet. He wrote his works with pen-name Feruz.
In 1870 Khivans had very stable financial increase thanks the khans initiatives. There many big and small factories and workshops of local craftsmen in the country. And each of them had market places in the bazaars. They even exported the goods foreign countries such as Persia, Russia.
Thirty seven years of his rule was under Russia’s protectorate after Khiva khanate was annexed by Russian empire. He could manage to stabilize the life in Khiva stopping cruelties such as slave trade and wars among tribes in the country.
The initiated the first stone printing-house in Central Asia in order to recover palace library that was confiscated by Russian empire in 1874. He also supported the first photographer in Central Asia Khudaybergan Devanov to develop photography and cinema in the country. In 1898 He made order to gather everything that could be a museum exhibition and opened the first museum in Khiva. His museum exhibitions were exhibited in many museums around the world. It was exhibited in Tashkent in 1890, in Nijniy Novogord in 1895, in Paris in 1900 and in the United State of America in the state Missouri in 1904.
So the khan died at the age of 66 in 1910.
Islam Khoja was born in 1879 in the family khan’s official Ibrahim Khoja. Islam Khoja was his second son. He got his basic education from special tutors and went to medrassah in Khiva. After his father became the khan’s vezier(prime-minister) his family moved to Khiva and continued his education with the khan’s children in the palace. When his father Ibrahim Khoja died he became the chief of the tax office at the age of 15 in1889. Then he became the governor of Khazarasp province. So he ruled Khazarasp province for ten years and gained the respect of its people with intiatives.
Islam Khoja was appointed by the khan Muhammad Rahim as vezier of Khiva khanate in 1898 when he was 26 years old, after the death the vezier Sayid Abdulla khoja.
Islan Khoja started the new reforms in the country after his visit to Russia several times in 1903, 1907, 1911, 1913. He undertook moderate reforms, opened the first secular school, hospital, telegraph and introduced bank, mail and railways in the country. So he gathered the endless respect of Khivans with his contribution for development. The Khiva khan personally ensured these reforms to Islam Khoja in 1910 in one of his speaches.