Tariq Saeedi, Raviliya Kadyrova, Elvira Kadyrova
The earth beneath our feet was sizzling and the air was hot in the nostrils in Amul but there was antidote at hand. The hosts had arranged a wide assortment of soft drinks and water, the bottles reassuringly cool to the touch, and generous supply of snacks.
We were standing on the low hill where the excavation team was at work. They had unearthed something that looked like a deep water-well though they were not sure about it. A base of something that may have been a stone tower in some previous century was also being cleaned of dirt.
The expert from the museum said that of the nearly 200 hectares of Amul territory, excavation work was possible only on 70 hectares because the rest was already a part of the bustling Turkmenabat city since the early soviet times. We could see the rooftops of homes on three sides of the hill; the fourth side was the road where we came from.
The outer edges of the hill were surrounded by the remnants of a rampart. Two sides of the hill descended at a sharp angle which could not be scaled without the climbing gear. On one side, there were the signs of a moat, a kind of defensive ditch. In its heyday, Amul must have been a city endowed with natural and manmade defence.
As a result of the recent excavation, two brick walls have been exposed below ground, quite close to each other – perhaps a passage between two rooms.
Climbing down from the hill, we reached a wide and level area. There were pictures and artifacts to show what is known about the Amul area.
Actually, Amul is the name of a large territory and where we were standing was Amul Fort (Amul Galasy).
Looking at the map, we could see the justification for choosing Amul as the starting point of the Silk Road Rally (Amul-Hazar 2018).
The Amul Fort used to be the junction of four major arteries of the Silk Road. —– One road went to Merv, Sarakhs and onward to the Iranian side, ultimately leading to either the Gulf or Turkey and Europe. Another road, bifurcating into two near Herat, connected with the network toward South Asia. The road from China also connected at Amul. The westward road passed through Kunya Urgench on its way to Russia and Europe.
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Amul is still guarding its secrets. Lots of work is required before we know the extent of the rich past of this biggest city of Central Asia of a distant past.
If is believed that Amul was founded on the left bank of the Amudarya River in the 3rd century BC. The caravans from the farthest end of China took 150 days to reach Amul and another 80 days before the termination of the journey in the Roman Empire.
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The study of Amul will not be complete without giving a broader look to other archeological finds and historical sites in the Lebap province.
From Farab to Kerki, and from Beshir to Koytendag, history is piled on history.
To be continued . . .