Dehistan, Turkmenistan

Traveler, who visits Dehistan, gains indelible impressions as if he appeared in something like fantastic planet, where whole space nearly up to horizon is studded with terra-cotta remains – evidences of centuries-old human labor. It is difficult here to use the archeological term – ancient settlement. Dehistan is whole world, manmade country of disappearing shadows, imperishable monument to human genius, persistence, enthusiastic and artistic attitude to life.

This monument is situated in Balkan province – the land with original culture and unique traditions created by countless generations of fishermen – coast-dwellers, cattle-breeders, farmers, architects and craftsmen. Hence, from the coasts of Hazar, our country springs in the east, welcoming the travelers with wonderful historical monuments.

Dekhistan Turkmenistan
For example, in Balhan Mountains, the scientists fixed the hearths of ancient human civilization – in cave Jebel, Dam-Dam cheshme, along dried-up riverbed of Uzboy and other parts of the western region of the country. The foreign scientists-archeologists also appreciated their significance. Not long ago, the trip of professor from the USA Michael Greg has run through these places. He particularly underlined the significance of these historical monuments in the world scale.

… People first started to develop these places at the end of III century B.C. They were the farmers of vast oasis, being irrigated with waters of Atrek River. People mainly used it for artificial irrigation of their sowing areas.

In III-VIII centuries B.C., numerous nomadic tribes mainly of ancient Turkic lineage: saki, massagets, eftalits started to penetrate often into oasis. But, more powerful tribal union was headed by dahi (hence the name of settlement), who created large reinforced main bases and settlements (Shadur-kala, Akga-gala and others). The spiritual culture of oasis reached the highest flourishing in the epoch of developed Middle Ages with emergence of several settlements of urban type.

The largest monument of medieval Dehistan is Misrian site of ancient settlement. It strikes with its sizes and even being in ruins today, it produces strong impression with its scales and material evidences of the highest culture, which rapidly flourished in former times. It was one of the largest medieval settlements of its time: shahristan (settlement with citadel), rabat (suburb) and densely populated blocks of craftsmen that surrounded it from all sides occupy over 20 hectares. At that, it is worth to take into account that in connection with insufficiency of full scientific data about large settlement, its final borders haven’t been determined heretofore.

As a result of archeological study, to date, only cultural layers of the medieval settlement have been investigated fuller. Its reminders fully hide the earlier history from eyes of historians. It was determined that in X-XIII centuries, shahristan was surrounded with powerful serfdom-based wall in two lines with patrol, semicircular towers. Such fortification has no analogues in the medieval Turkmenistan. Misrian is the city of masters. The remainders of the hundreds of workshops, which produced first-class bricks, bronze coppers, lamps, other articles from metal, wonderful faience, glaze ceramics, testify about well developed handicraft production. The last one strikes with abundance and highest artistic level of the ornamental paintings with a plot. All possible articles from glass were also produced in a large assortment. The jewelers created their masterpieces from precious metals and differed by high professionalism and refined taste in the artistic design of the stone.

Urban culture of Misrian is also worth of admiration: archeologists have discovered perfect for its time the water supply system, numerous bathhouses, and municipal sewage lines. Well burnt bricks covered the bridge streets and marketplaces.

Highly developed fortification, artistic properties of the architectural structures and products of local craftsmen raise this province of powerful state of Khorezmshakhs (XII-XIII centuries) to the classic as well as unique phenomenon of Muslim renaissance of pre-Mongolian period.

Misrian – one of major in the East key points of the Great Silk Road. The remains of three large caravanserais unmistakably indicate to main trends of caravan routes. The southern gates – asylum for merchants led to Girkania (Gorgan province in the northern Iran), the eastern – to Abiverd, Merv and further to Bukhara and Samarkand. The northern ones are oriented to Khoresm and Kievan Russia. After centuries, the paths turned into arterial highways, where the large and small populated areas (in total, they were probably over 40 in Dehistan) threaded there. The complicated, interconnected irrigation net of channels were branched considerably. Numerous rural settlements and farmsteads appeared along them.

Among relatively preserved monuments of Dehistan, it is possible to highlight two twenty-meter (maybe, it is a half of their initial height) minarets. It is interesting that locating only 120 meters far from each other, they according to preserved inscriptions were constructed with interval nearly 200 years! (1004 and beginning XIII century). From the mosques they were belonged to not a trace remains, but according to highly artistic brick setting of minarets, it is possible to say confidently about perfect architectural decoration, irretrievably lost masterpieces of the Muslim cultural art of building. From one, probably cathedral, mosque remained only two pilots of portal with amazing richest décor of vegetational-epigraphic style with use of polychromy glaze of high quality.

Dekhistan in Turkmenistan
Within relatively short ruling period of Khoresmshakhs, the city experienced impetuous flourishing, but it was barbarically destroyed by the troops of Chingizkhan in 1223.

To opinion of outstanding scientist, academician V.M. Masson and other archeologists, the mosque and minaret alongside with other monuments of the medieval Dehistan are of great historic-cultural, artistic value and suitable for inscription on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Preservation and promotion of this museum under open air was possible owing to enormous efforts of researchers of the National Management for study and restoration of cultural-historic monuments of the country as well as State Historic-Cultural Reserve “Ancient Dehistan”.

Time and forces of nature made their negative correctives in relief and landscape of the south-east part of the Caspian region – Mashat-Misserian plateau, where civilization and culture of early agriculture formerly prospered. But still it is possible to find the line of dried riverbeds of artificial channels, sluices, borders of virgin lands, plantations and other irrigational agricultural structures. Owing to them, the peasants of Dehistan cultivated rich harvests of white wheat, fruits and vegetables. The travelers, who visited this paradisiacal part in those times, nicknamed its residents as “happy population”.


Dehistan Turkmenistan
1 Comment
  1. I’m an accredited Iranian driver/guide. I can speak fluent Persian,English,Azerbaijanese and Turkmen languages. I wanna suggest to cooperate with you about attracting more tourists for their visit Turkmenistan. I can also cooperate with you for arranging their transport to Turkmenistan border and anything else concerining Turkmenistan tours.

    Rafi Khankhajeh

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