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0036 Explorations in Turkestan 1903 : vol.1
Explorations in Turkestan 1903 : vol.1 / Page 36 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)


[Photo] 7 Paikent, a Sand-buried City.

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doi: 10.20676/00000177
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there are numerous depressions, the bottoms of which are level plains, 150 to 300 feet in diameter, standing 7o to 8o feet above the stream.

The general arrangement of these depressions is such that if filled with water they would form a connected, irregular system of water-basins ; and there is a channel about ioo feet wide which opens out on the stream valley, after communicating with most of the depressions. It all suggests a former water system maintaining pleasant pools like those which still form an attractive feature of Bokhara.

The former walls of the city are represented now by ridges rising 20 or 3o feet above the surface within. Where the walls are cut by gullies old galleries are exposed which seem to have been continuous with the wall. Quintus Curtius states 7o stadia as the extent of the walls in the time of Alexander. This, if the short stadia were meant, would be about 3 miles, which would be approximately the circumference of that part of Samarkand now called Afrosiab.

As in all Turkestan, so at Samarkand, the older structures still standing are those of the Mohammedan period. The many immense and wonderfully decorated

Fig. 7.—Paikent, a Sand-buried City.

mosques built by Tamerlane, though now falling into ruin, belong among the wonders of the world ; and this not only on account of their great size, but also because of the beauty of their decoration. Seen from Afrosiab, these ruins tower high above the rich foliage of the oasis city—evidence of the wealth of treasure that Tamerlane had accumulated in Turkestan within two centuries after Genghis Khan had sacked the country and massacred much of its population.


What I have been able here to say regarding the archeology of Russian Turkestan seems but a meager statement ; but it was soon clear that all that could be accomplished in such a reconnaissance would be the observation of the character

and abundance of the evidences of former occupation, and to obtain some idea of their distribution and size.

Our reconnaissance covered a territory nearly 1,400 miles long. It was neces-

sarily only of a preliminary character, and intended to supply a general idea of the problems to be solved and of the best points at which to begin.