Otrar and Arystan Bab Mausoleum, Kazakhstan Week 124 August 13th 2013
A quick glimpse of the Khoja Ahmed Yasavi Mausoleum and off to Otrar.
Past yesterday's supermarket.

Now we know what Kazakh for supermarket looks like.

There's a new university in Turkestan.

And Sultan will be in the first year to graduate from the new university in Astana (new capital).

Some lecturers and professors from overseas (including Aus).

Most of the spread out town is single storey houses on large sections.

We took the back road after another study of googlemaps.

Surprised to find it sealed.

But groovey.

Our first glimpse of Otrar.

A bit like Karatobe (near Sauran a couple of days ago) from the distance.

A rounded hill.

Further west in Kazakhstan we noticed the railway sidings were the distance apart for steam trains to take water.

Here the ruined walled towns are separated by roughly the distance a caravan could move in a day.

We haven't yet got used to photographing people.

So here's a photograph of someone looking the other way, waiting for a lift.

Just stand by the side of the road and someone will stop.

Reminiscent of a Roman hypercaust.

The hot water room of the bath house.

Maybe a Turkish bath!

This bath house is outside the city walls.

A small part of the top of the hill has been excavated.

This part has been partially  reconstructed.

Unable to translate the Kazakh or Russian interpretations we are a little lost.

We think it may be the 14th century Palace of Berdibek. Where Timur died (in 1405). 

There is also a palace mosque.

The walls have crumbled and presumably form the edge of the hill.

This is one of the gates which has been excavated and is being reconstructed (much like the main gate to Sauran).

We are a bit puzzled.

The ground is littered with small pottery pieces.

In a soft matrix that we sink a bit in.

We can imagine how the area inside the walls has been filled with dust, thus leaving the archeologists to dig down to the buildings, but we can't figure out why the pottery shards should be on top.

Unless the soft material has been dug up once and left there, though there's a lot of it.

To relieve us of the mental contortions involved in solving a puzzle with insufficient information we look briefly at the Mosque adjacent to the Aristan Bab Mausoleum a couple of km away.
A deep excavation to reach the remains of the walls of houses.

There are pottery shards in the material obviously excavated, but less in the surrounding areas.

Someone has collected large pottery pieces.
And strangest of all.

An exposed, cleaned, skull.

The hole in the head is on the far side.

Otrar was a major Silk Road hub dating from the first century AD. Near the banks of the Syr Darya with fertile land.

By the 12th century all houses had sewage connections.

In 1218 an emissary caravan from Genghis Khan was plundered and annihilated on arrival at Otrar.

Thus began the Mongol conquest of central Asia when Genghis sent an army under the command of his sons to destroy the city.

The city was defended by about 70,000 troops. But five months into the siege one of the leaders Karaja Khojib left the city with 10,000 and left the gate open.

Even then the central citadel was strongly defended.

Because of its position Otrar recovered after Genghis' death.

It faded with internal strife and as the Jungar tribes from further east attacked in the 17th century. Along with other Syr Darya towns.

This is a partially excavated large pot.

We camped at the entrance and watched the world go by.
Helped by the two gatekeepers.

We were the only visitors to the site the whole day.

Up at dawn the next day and a look at the Aristan Bab Mausoleum.

Built in 1907. The original was inside Otrar, commissioned by Timur.

The front door.

Aristan Bab was one of Khoja Ahmed Yasavi's mentors.

This site is visited by pilgrims on the way to Turkistan.

Kybyz outside Shauitdir.
We are still thinking about the hills.

The way these small hills are labeled we suspect they are kergens (tumulus).

Burial mounds.

Zhabagly, Kazakhstan to Kirov Reservoir, Kyrgizstan Week 124 August 14th - 17th 2013

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