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1970-1980's. The Aral Sea region has entered a state of socio-ecological crisis. Ecocide-the result of the degradation of natural resources-became the forerunner of the genocide of the local population. By the early 1990s, the crisis had turned into a catastrophe. However, such a crisis is not unprecedented in the history of the Khorezm oasis. Our goal was to try to summarize the materials of mostly independent, unrelated research in the humanities and natural sciences that relate to the same subject and, as a rule, are unknown to representatives of different branches of knowledge. This task is performed in a concentrated form as a table where the processes, phenomena and events in the life of society, nature and the relationship of these two systems from antiquity to the present day are synchronized (see Appendix). This synchronization allows us to put forward a hypothesis about the socio-natural history (SE) of the Aral Sea region.

Two socio-ecological crises in the ancient and medieval history of Khorezm. The social and ecological stability of the Aral Sea region was established in the middle of the 1st millennium BC after the initial anthropogenization of the surrounding landscape, as a result of the migration of the Amu Darya in the southern direction, towards the Prisarykamysh delta, and the flooding of the ancient riverbed-Uzboy1 . The shorter waterway along the Uzboy to the Caspian Sea enabled Khorezm to interact with E. V. Burnakov's naibol and its developed central and western regions of the Achaemenid empire, primarily with Media and Mesopotamia. Under King Artaxerxes II (404-359 BC), Khorezm became a separate satrapy of the Achaemenid state .2 B. I. Vainberg connects the separation of Khorezm into a separate satrapy with the appearance of the Uzboy waterway: Khorezm received a shorter route to the centers of the Achaemenid state .3 The abundance of Amu Darya water flowing due to the deviation of the river to the south made it possible for the Khorezmians to create a grandiose irrigation system in the vast territory of the Prisarykamysh delta. Irrigated agriculture provided the flourishing of the Khorezm state.

In the future, the draining of the Prisarykamysh delta and the cessation of flow along the Uzboy River caused the first socio-ecological crisis in the middle of the first millennium AD, as a result of which Khorezm lost its independence and was invaded by the Turks and Arabs. There was a transformation of the entire worldview system, the Iranian language was replaced by the Turkic one. Islam became the dominant religion.

The second crisis was caused by the destruction of dams on the Amu Darya by the Mongols, as a result of which the river migrated to the left bank, i.e. to the Prisarykamysh delta. However, " there is a tendency for the waters of the Amu Darya to roll down the old riverbeds to Sarykamysh again ... it appeared already in the X century, and then a powerful dam was built to protect Urgench from the east. " 4 In addition, in the VIII-IX centuries. water breaks through the Daryalyk and Northern Daudan riverbeds to the Prisarykamysh river again.-

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2. The destruction of irrigation by the Mongols only increased the flow in Sarikamysh 5 . As a result of the second socio-ecological crisis in the XIII century. Khorezm lost its political and economic significance, became the scene of numerous internecine wars, and entered a state that from an evolutionary point of view can be characterized as a stage of deep regression, but from the standpoint of socio - natural history - as socio-ecological stability achieved at a lower synergetic level.

It can be assumed that the migration of the Amu Darya in its delta regions was the trigger of both the flourishing of civilization in the Khorezm oasis and its crisis. There is reason to believe the following resonant order of crises: the environmental crisis provoked economic, technological and political crises. Natural processes, in particular, the change in the Amu Darya River flow towards the Aral Sea or the Sarikamysh Basin, in the early period of society's development occurred regardless of human activity. Water gradually disappeared due to natural processes (climate change, groundwater migration, etc.). People had to make huge efforts to move the head parts of the channels and deepen them, improve the technique of building irrigation structures, but this did not stop the changes. There was an environmental crisis, which provoked a crisis in society.

Geological causes of river migration. For historical time, some researchers highlight the socio-political causes of the crisis. Thus, S. P. Tolstoe was inclined to explain the migration of the river by the nature of the formation of deltas, in which extremely rapid accumulation of sedimentary rocks occurs, especially in the immediate vicinity of the riverbed and in the channels themselves. Thanks to this, the stream very soon finds itself on the crest of the riverbed rampart and tends to make its way through lower places. According to the scientist, in historical times, when people used the water of the Amu Darya to irrigate their fields, the channels could no longer freely migrate. People regulated the flow of the river, and S. P. Tolstov made a fundamentally important conclusion: all the short-term breakthroughs of the Amu Darya along the old channels recorded in historical times are associated with periods of sharp weakening of human regulatory activity as a result of major socio-political catastrophes. In particular, " the decline of artificial irrigation and the desolation of flowering oases in Khorezm, as well as in Lower Zeravshan ... They were primarily caused by social and political reasons - devastating wars... When a society was experiencing a crisis, natural factors (floods and floods that washed away dams and levees, the movement of loose sand, salinization of cultural areas, etc.) aggravated the devastation of cultural lands and caused the displacement of the agricultural population. The periods when irrigation flourished coincided with the period of growing political centralization - the most important condition for the successful development of the irrigation system of the economy. " 6

The data of geologists and climatologists allow us to name other reasons for the migration of the Amu Darya: tectonic fluctuations of the Aral Sea plain, changes in the daily rotation of the Earth, and global climate changes. According to T. D. and S. D. Reznichenko 7, when the Earth's diurnal rotation changes, the hydrosphere 8 tends to shift in the polar or equatorial directions. Accordingly, the waters of the Amu Darya destroy the right or left bank, flood the surrounding fields and find a new channel. Other researchers believe that repeated changes in the flow direction of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya waters are mainly due to two factors: natural (accumulation of alluvial sediments , 9 features of soil structure) and social (10).

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Our assumption boils down to the fact that the reason for the migration of the Amu Darya could be the phenomenon of resonance or increasing influence, when one cause stimulates and enhances another. In later periods, natural factors may have coincided with the impact of anthropogenic factors, or vice versa, anthropogenic impact increased the effect of natural processes, as was the case, for example, in the history of China 11 . Apparently, the history of the hydrosphere of Central Asia in general, and the Amu Darya in particular, should be considered from the point of view of global climate change, since the results of analysis and generalization of data on the history of the development of many rivers and reservoirs convincingly show that over four and a half thousand years, the hydrosphere of ground and underground waters underwent more or less significant with climate fluctuations and with fluctuations in the Earth's rotational regime. With the onset of a particular era of climate cooling, the speed of the Earth's daily rotation increased, and the hydro grid, due to an increase in centrifugal forces, was rebuilt with a general orientation of the shift of all waters towards the equator. This trend was accompanied by all three cold epochs. With the onset of a particular era of warming, the daily rotation of the Earth slowed down, and the hydro grid, due to a decrease in centrifugal forces, was rebuilt with a general orientation of the shift towards the poles. This trend was observed for all three warm epochs, including modern 12 .

The natural relationship between cyclical climate fluctuations and planetary changes in the hydroelectric network makes it possible to outline an approximate picture of successive movements of the Amu Darya flow direction for Quaternary time, i.e., over the past four and a half thousand years. In the Postglacial period, in each of the three cold epochs - in the late Neolithic, in ancient times, and in the late Middle Ages - the Amu Darya deviated in a southerly direction. As a result, the Prisarykamysh delta and the Sarikamysh depression itself were flooded, the water level in which sometimes rose so high that the excess water overflowed into the Uzbek and then into the Caspian Sea. On the contrary, in each of the three warm epochs-in the Bronze Age, in the early Middle Ages and in the modern era - the river deviated in a northerly direction. As a result, its left bank (the Prisarykamysh Delta) was drained, but the water content of the right bank increased, and the river drained directly into the Aral Sea.

Before the Soviet period, the Aral Sea region had a period of relative socio-ecological stability: with the technology of the main production process unchanged, the surrounding landscape, population size, and people's ideas about the world and about themselves did not undergo any significant changes. The annexation of the Khiva Khanate to Russia did not lead to fundamental changes in people's lives, in the interaction of man and nature.

The process of destruction of natural complexes started in the pre-war period and intensified in the post-war period. Since the early 1960s, the area of irrigated land has grown 1.5 times in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, 1.7 times in Kazakhstan, and 2.4 times in Turkmenistan. Due to the increase in water intake in the upper reaches of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya Rivers, their flow to the Aral Sea has decreased. The situation in the Aral Sea region was also affected by other factors of the economic life of the Central Asian republics. The main production assets of agricultural production increased by 5-7 times. The specific fertilizer consumption per hectare of arable land in the Central Asian republics in 1990 was 2.5-3 times higher than in the RSFSR 13 . The situation was aggravated by a 1.5 - 2.2-fold increase in the population. If at the beginning of the XX century, when about 6 million people lived in the Aral Sea region and the Amu Darya basin, almost 0.6 hectares of irrigated land per capita accounted for, today, when the population exceeded 40 million people, an average of less than 0.2 hectares per capita, and in Uzbekistan - less than 0.17 hectares. Only for the period

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From 1959 to 1987, the population of the region increased dramatically: in Uzbekistan-from 8.1 to 19 million people, in Tajikistan-from 1.5 to 4.8 million, in Turkmenistan - from 1.5 to 4.8 million people .14

In 1970-1980. The Aral Sea region has entered a state of socio-ecological crisis, the essence of which is a catastrophic drop in the level of the Aral Sea, profound changes in the ecosystem cover in the valleys and deltas of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers, desertification of vast delta plains and waterlogging of land, changes in hydrological and hydrogeological regimes in river valleys, degradation of soil and vegetation cover, loss of the potential of commercial fauna and a sharp increase in environmental toxicity, activation of the processes of wind removal of salts from the drying sea bottom (the dried bottom became a hotbed of salt and dust storms) and climate aridization 15 .

People's reaction to the deterioration of their living conditions was migration. Since the beginning of the 1990s, the republics of the Aral Sea region have been experiencing an outflow of population. The impact of environmental degradation on population migration is both direct and indirect. In the first case, conditions arise that exclude the possibility of living and economic activity of people in their former places due to the extreme degree of habitat degradation, in the second case, the deterioration of the natural environment becomes one of the motives for making a decision on the expediency of relocation from ecologically unfavorable areas. 16 V. S. Zaletaev considered these phenomena to be a developing ecocide, which should be considered as a " pre-stage"genocide 17 .

However, it is currently difficult to predict the development of events in the Aral Sea region with certainty. According to E. S. Kulpin (personal message), the reason for this is the lack of necessary knowledge about the movement of groundwater. The known asynchrony of changes in the level of the Caspian Sea and the Aral Sea suggests that the movement of surface and underground waters in different periods occurs either in the direction of the Caspian Sea or in the direction of the Aral Sea. In recent decades, the rise in the level of the Caspian Sea, which occurs in parallel with the shallowing of the Aral Sea, cannot be explained only by an increase in surface water runoff. Only occasionally we can observe (including in the Amu Darya basin) powerful exits to the surface of underground rivers and their new departure underground. Until hydrologists accumulate actual data and develop a coherent theory of groundwater, it is definitely impossible to say that the socio-ecological crisis of the Aral Sea region is moving into the catastrophe phase. If the current state of the Aral Sea is natural, then the waterless phase will be followed by a full-water one, as it was for the Caspian Sea.

However, the discovery of oil and gas reserves at the bottom of the Aral Sea can have a significant impact on the current situation. The states of the Aral Sea region, by solving economic problems, can significantly aggravate the current environmental crisis and prevent the normalization of the Aral Sea level 18 .


1 The Prisarykamysh Delta and the Uzboy River are located in the left-bank part of the Amu Darya and were watered during the southward migration of the Amu Darya towards the Caspian Sea (at the end of the Neolithic, in ancient times and in the late Middle Ages). Uzboy was watered due to the transfusion of excess water from Lake Sarykamysh, when its level reached 53 m. It is currently a dry riverbed.

2. Pyankov I. V. Assumption based on written sources. See: Pyankov I. V. "History of Persia" Ctesias and the Central Asian satrapies of the Achaemenids at the end of the 5th century BC. 1965, N 2. P. 42.

Vainberg B. I. 3 Rol ' ekologicheskikh faktorov v formirovanii etnicheskoi territorii (po arkheologicheskim materialam iz Vostochnogo Prikaspiya i Priaral'ya) [The role of environmental factors in the formation of the ethnic territory (based on archaeological materials from the Eastern Caspian and the Aral Sea region)]. Issue I. Istoriya i arkheologiya [History and Archeology], Moscow, 1990. Learning

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Skotovody i sel'ateltsy levoberezhnogo Khorezma (drevnost ' i srednevekovye) [Cattle breeders and farmers of the left-bank Khorezm (antiquity and Middle Ages)]. Issue I. M., 1991.

Tolstov S. P. 4 Po drevnim deltam Oksa i Yaxarta [Ancient deltas of the Oxus and Yaxarta], Moscow, 1962, p. 162.

Vainberg B. I. 5 Etnogeografiya Turana v drevnosti [Ethnogeography of Turan in ancient times], Moscow, 1999, p. 35; At the same time, B. I. Vainberg makes an important statement that S. P. Tolstov's conclusion about the indispensable dependence of changes in the direction of the river flow on social factors cannot be accepted. Thus, the cessation of runoff to the Prisarykamysh delta and the Uzboy preceded the crisis that occurred in the middle of the first millennium AD. It is possible that the cessation of runoff contributed to the development of the crisis. In addition, the medieval flow of the Amu Darya to Sarykamysh also began before the Mongol invasion, during the era of prosperity of Khorezm. Stable flooding of the Prisarykamysh delta from the 7th century BC to the 4th-5th centuries AD and regular runoff along the Uzboy River from the end of the 5th century BC to the 4th century AD were not associated with any social causes. Thus, B. I. Vainberg believes that the main causes of changes in the water supply regime of the Amu Darya delta channels should be sought among natural factors.

Tolstoe S. P. 6 Edict. op. P. 316.

Reznichenko T. D., Reznichenko S. D. 7 On some regularities in the development of the Earth // Earth in the Universe, Moscow, 1964. pp. 172-229; Lichnov B. L. On the features of the Earth's symmetry associated with its gravitational field, tectonics and hydrology // Ibid., pp. 156-171.

8 Hydrosphere in geology - all the waters of the Planet, i.e. oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, ground and underground waters.

9 Alluvial deposits - soils deposited by flowing waters.

10. Kes A. S. 10 Prirodnye faktory, predvoyavlivayushchie rasselenie drevnego cheloveka v pustynyakh Srednoi Azii [Natural factors that determine the settlement of ancient man in the deserts of Central Asia]. Paleogeography of the Aral Sea in the late Pleistocene and Holocene // Paleogeography of the Caspian and Aral Seas in the Cenozoic, Part 2. Moscow, 1983; Andrianov B. V. Irrigation systems of the Aral Sea region (in connection with the history of the emergence and development of irrigated agriculture). Moscow, 1969; Gulyamov Ya. G. History of irrigation in Khorezm from ancient times to the present day. Tashkent, 1957.

Kulpin E. S. 11 Chelovek i priroda v Kitae [Human and Nature in China]. Moscow, 1990.

12 Over the past four and a half thousand years, there have been three epochs of significant cooling of the climate, which were interspersed with three epochs of its significant warming: the first epoch of cooling-a maximum around the middle of the third millennium BC, i.e. the end of the Neolithic-the beginning of the Eneolithic; the second epoch of cooling-a maximum around the middle of the first millennium BC; the third the era of cooling - a maximum around the middle of the current millennium, the late Middle Ages; the first era of warming-a maximum around the middle of the second millennium BC, i.e. the Bronze Age; the second era of warming-a maximum at the beginning of the second half of the first millennium AD, the early Middle Ages; the third era of warming-modern. Reznichenko S. D. Edict. op. P. 185.

Glazovsky N. F. 13 The Aral Crisis, Moscow, 1990, p. 14; Babaev A. G., Kirsta B. T. Nekotorye aspekty osobenneniya ekologicheskoi situatsii v Priaralie [Some aspects of environmental situation complications in the Aral Sea region]. Geographical series. 1991, No. 4. pp. 89-95; Main provisions of the concept of conservation and restoration of the Aral Sea, normalization of the ecological, sanitary-hygienic, medical-biological and socio-economic situation in the Aral Sea region / / Ibid. pp. 8-21.

Glazovsky N. F. 14 Decree. op. P. 15.

15. Zaletaev V. S. 15 The Aral ecological crisis and its impact on the indigenous population of the Aral Sea region. Problems of socio-natural history. Issue VIII. Moscow, 1996, pp. 44-46; Babaev A. G., Kirsta B. T. Edict. op.

Glazovsky N. F., Kudinova N. V., Samoycheva L. Yu., Streletsky V. N., Shestakov A. S. 16 Migrations of the population in the CIS countries related to desertification and drought. Moscow, 2000.

17 Zaletaev V. S. Land development, ecological crises and population migrations / / Landscape and ethnos. Issue XIII, Moscow, 1999, p. 167.

18 // East (Oriens). 1994, N 6. pp. 72-80; it is the same. Western Siberia-the Aral Sea Region: revival of the "project of the century"? // Ibid., 1999, No. 6. pp. 93-105.

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Synchronistic table of processes, phenomena and events in the life of society and nature in the Amu Darya Delta (IV millennium BC-early III millennium AD)

Natural resources


Socio-economic, political, and cultural aspects


Phenomena and events


Phenomena and events


Phenomena and events

Initial stage of anthropogenization of the host landscape. IV-III millennium BC Neolithic. Celteminar culture

Cooling with a maximum around the middle of the third millennium BC (corresponds to mountain glaciation in the down stage); flooding of the left-bank delta and Sarikamysh depression; flooding and sediment filling of the central and southwestern depressions of the Aral-Caspian Plain.

Deviation of the Amu Darya in a southerly direction with extremely unstable water level; the Uzboy flows into the Caspian Sea; the river occupies an intermediate position between its two extreme limits; throughout almost the entire Neolithic era until the second half of the third millennium BC, the Akchadarya delta is still very heavily watered.

The beginning of anthropogenization and the design of the boundaries of the host landscape; sites are found on the edge of the delta, on the border with bedrock sands, outside the limits of direct flooding, or at the foot of large intra-delt uplands-islands.

Fishing and hunting; flint and bone tools; large oval houses made of reeds and wood; people live on the banks of river channels.

Beginning of settlement of the Prisarykamysh delta; growth of Neolithic sites on the Upper Uzbek.

A large number of primitive monuments along the Uzboy riverbed: Janbas-4 site on Akchadarya delta, etc.; round-bottomed, richly ornamented, red-painted ceramics.

II millennium BC. e. The Bronze Age. Tazabagysh culture

The first epoch of warming with a maximum in the second half of the second millennium BC (corresponds to the climatic optimum); sharp aridization of the climate; movement of the Amu Darya riverbed to the north; drainage of the Prisarykamysh Delta; increased water content on the Right Bank; the level of the Aral Sea is unstable and has risen to the absolute level of 30-35 m.

Akchadarya deltas are active, through which the river flows to the south-eastern part of the Aral Sea; changes in the water regime of the Akchadarya Delta; periodically, part of the water is sent to the Sarikamysh basin, where there is still a vast lake, from which a short-term flow along the Uzboy occurs from time to time.

People are moving to the river deltas; permanent settlements along with fields are gravitating to the Amu Darya Akchadarya riverbed, which bypasses the Sultanuizdag range from the east; the transition to irrigation hoe farming; improvement of artificial irrigation methods; hunting and fishing remain, but hoe farming and cattle breeding are dominant.

In the Akchadarya delta, Bronze Age settlements predominate; they are absent in the Uzboy; there is a small amount of Bronze Age ceramics along the Uzboy; parking lots are located inside the deltas; wheat and other cereals are cultivated in closely located small (10 x 10 m, 10 x 6 m) areas surrounded by rollers; river water in floods comes directly from flooded channels in dry periods, it is carried out to the fields through narrow channels dug in shallow channels; the most ancient system of primitive artificial irrigation is the Kokcha - 3 monument.

A change in the way of economic life; the formation of the Tazabagyan culture, which has similarities with the Andronovo culture of the steppes of Kazakhstan and Southern Siberia and with the so-called log culture of the Lower Volga region.

Widespread use of bronze products; breeding of sheep, bulls, horses; bronze sickles and grain grinders, bone hoes; handmade ceramics.

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Table. Continuation

Natural resources


Socio-economic, political, and cultural aspects


Phenomena and events


Phenomena and events


Phenomena and events

IX-VIII centuries BC Early Iron age. Amirabad culture

At the beginning of the first millennium BC (at the end of the Bronze Age), the Amu Darya river flow gradually subsided into the right-bank delta.

Anthropogenization of almost the entire territory of the ancient irrigation lands and the south-western periphery of the left bank of Khorezm by carriers of the Amirabad culture; development of a ditch system of artificial irrigation.

Flood areas along the Suyargan and Daudan rivers are used for settlements; irrigation facilities are based on shallow side damped channels of the delta.

The era of domination of the Massaget union of tribes; frequent clashes within the Saka tribes in the lower reaches of the Oks-Yaxart basin; the emergence of significant political associations with the center in Khorezm (Greater Khorezm); the Massagets ousting part of the Saks to south - eastern Europe.

The ceramics are decorated with Christmas tree ornaments, the walls are rounded and convex, the bottom is exceptionally flat; vessels with straight low or sharply curved corollas; prototypes of vessels of ancient Khorezm.

Mid-1st millennium BC (VI-IV centuries BC). Ancient Khorezm. Achaemenid period

The second epoch of cooling with a maximum around the middle of the first millennium BC (corresponds to mountain glaciation in the Egesene stage).

Deviation of the Amu Darya in a southerly direction; flooding of the Sarikamysh depression; the Uzboy flows into the Caspian Sea; in the IV century BC, the Akchadarya Delta ceases to exist; all the main tributaries of the left-bank Prisarykamysh delta operate; the main part of the Amu Darya waters is directed along the old Daudan channel to the Sarikamysh basin and from there to the Uzboy.

The abundance of Amudarysh water makes it possible for the Khorezmians to create a grandiose irrigation system in the vast territory of the Prisarykamysh delta; construction of large channels.

The first large channels of Khorezm (the ancient settlement of Kyuzeli-gyr) and others were brought out of Daudan; the main channels are laid, regardless of the ancient channels, on the middle line of Takyr massifs, having a distribution network on both sides; branches depart not at a right angle, but at an acute angle.

The birth of the state, the creation of the administrative apparatus; the entry of Khorezm into the Achaemenid Empire; interaction with Media and Mesopotamia; Khorezm becomes a separate satrapy of the Achaemenid state.

Construction of a powerful fortress and palace 20 km from Kyuzeligyr; mud architecture, a potter's wheel; the appearance of a single craft ceramics throughout the territory; the emergence of Zoroastrianism at the turn of the V and IV centuries BC; burials of purified bones in vessels; astonades (ossuaries) will dominate in Khorezm for 13 centuries; the appearance of the toponym Khorezm.

IV century BC-I century AD

At the end of the VIII-beginning of the VII century BC, the riverbed of the Prisarykamysh delta was flooded and the Sarikamysh depression began to fill up.

Creation of a large agricultural oasis; radical restructuring of the irrigation system; increase in the length of main canals in Right-bank Khorezm in the form of large-scale irrigation systems.

The length of the main canals reaches 300 km; on the northern bank of south Daudan, a unique irrigation structure has been created - a giant canal stretching through the river.-

The flourishing of cities and crafts; the emergence of large local centers; the introduction of a new chronology in the first century AD in the years of the "Khorezmian era"; fortified rectangular buildings

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Table. Continuation

Natural resources


Socio-economic, political, and cultural aspects


Phenomena and events


Phenomena and events


Phenomena and events

At the turn of the V-FV centuries BC, Uzboy is already constantly functioning.

two or three times; the area of ancient irrigation lands is 3.5 - 3.8 million square kilometers. areas with regular irrigation make up approximately 1.7 million hectares, and those with irregular (conventionally irrigated agriculture) - approximately 1.8-2.1 million hectares.

construction of protective dams along the main riverbed and removal of main channels from the main riverbed.

villages, multi-room houses-massifs grouped into two main quarters (phratries), "houses of fire" as the center of the social life of settlements; construction of the dynastic center of Toprakkala; red and light ceramics with black and red coloring made on a potter's wheel; slotted and painted ornaments in the form of triangles descending on the shoulders of vessels; bowls with a disc-shaped tray; glasses; numerous figurines of people and animals of Kanpo style; grain grinders of very large sizes.

II-III centuries A.D. Kushan culture

Continuation of the heyday of ancient Khorezm; onslaught of steppe tribes.

The citadel-the ruler's castle; the disappearance of black and painted ceramics; the appearance of fragments of ceramics of light green irrigation; the appearance of the first hand millstones; fires in many fortresses; the transition from fortified communal settlements to villages that do not have external walls and consist of separate large-family estates; the sharp separation of aristocratic estates; some decline in culture.

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Table. Continuation

Natural resources


Socio-economic, political, and cultural aspects


Phenomena and events


Phenomena and events


Phenomena and events

III-V centuries A.D. Kushan-Afrigid culture

The second era of warming at the beginning of the second half of the first millennium AD.

In the fourth century, the Amu Darya River deviated in a northerly direction; the Prisarykamysh Delta, Sarikamysh Lake, and Uzboy were drained; and the ecological crisis occurred.

Most of the irrigated areas are abandoned by the population; relocation to the right bank of the Amu Darya; reduction of areas under agricultural crops; increase in population density in right-bank Khorezm.

Huge efforts to extend the functioning of the irrigation system: deepening the channels, moving their heads upstream, introducing chigiris to raise water.

The growing internal political tension in Khorezm; the phenomena of decentralization and separatist tendencies of small lords; the danger of external conquests and invasions (by the Sasanian king Shapur I).

The rise of a new Afrigid dynasty in the fourth century; the decline of the ancient culture by the end of the Kushan-Afrigid period; the cities retain their former appearance, but become empty; first of all, life in the western settlements stops; the grandiose palace of the Khorezmshahs of Toprakkala is abandoned and the residence is moved to al-Fir, the new capital of Khorezm; coinage from the end of the third century. coins by local rulers; transition to the settlement of the castle type; in ceramics, a gradual transition from ancient to Afrigid forms; decline of artisan (urban) ceramic production; large, rough vessels and dishes with stucco ornaments around the edge; by the end of the period, the ancient forms of ceramics completely disappear; since the IV century. anthropomorphic ossuaries are replaced by box-shaped ones; the disappearance of previously widespread a common tradition of small plastic art.

VI-X centuries AD Medieval Khorezm Afrigid culture

V-VII centuries - a dark period of paleogeography of this region; there is no flow to the southern Akchadarya river.

Reduced living space in the left-bank part of the Amu Darya River; possible severe water loss-

The head parts of the channels are gradually lengthened, their idle speed increases.-

Acute social and economic crisis; weakening of the central government; power struggle

There are no monuments in the Aral Sea delta until the end of the 7th century; a sharp reduction in the number of cities;

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Table. Continuation

Natural resources


Socio-economic, political, and cultural aspects


Phenomena and events


Phenomena and events


Phenomena and events

delta, nor in the Prisarykamysh; in the VIII-X centuries. Once again, temporary water breaks occur along the Daryalyk and Northern Daudan riverbeds to the Prisarykamysh delta.

pumping of the Aral Sea delta.

irrigation facilities; construction of new main channels (in the left bank-Chermenyab and in the right bank - Kurder) and systems of dams, dams, dams, landslides, which ensure a steady watering of the irrigation network of the oasis; use of fertilizers; later there is a sharp decline in irrigation: abandoned irrigation systems and dams in the left bank; in the X century. flooding of the city of Kyata The Amu Darya River.

between Khwarezmshah Chegan and his brother Khurrazad; the country was divided into specific possessions; the conquest of Khwarezm by the Turks and Arabs; dual power that lasted until the end of the X century; in the IX-XI centuries the country became a state of the Tahirids, then the Saffarids, Samanids; the change of the Iranian language to the Turkic one; Islamization.

cities of the IV - VIII centuries are almost unknown; the appearance of posadas at the castles-estates of large feudal lords (Berkutkala); settlement by separate fortified manor-castles; various ceramics made without a potter's wheel; changes in the funeral rite; changes in the anthropological type of the population (mixed Caucasians with an admixture of the Far Eastern Mongoloid type); in the VI - VIII centuries, the population of the city was almost unknown. perhaps changes in state cults: the Great Goddess, the mistress of the Universe, becomes the head of the pantheon.

XI - XIII centuries. Khorezmshahs ' Period

Development of the land of the left-bank oasis up to the Aral Sea; the total area of developed land reaches 2.4 million hectares, of which 1.4 million hectares are regularly irrigated

Construction of a dam near Gurganj (containing the onslaught of water into the city and maintaining the stability of the irrigation system in the middle delta of the river); revival of the irrigation system, especially in the left-bank part (Chermenyab Canal, Khazarasp, Khiva, Gazavat, etc.); new forms of land ownership.

Rule of the Ghaznavid governors; complex Oghuz-Seljuk-Khorezmian relations; in 1044, Khorezm fell under the rule of the Seljukids, who ruled Khorezm until the second half of the X century; 1097-1221 - the rule of the Khorezmshah dynasty; centralization of the state; Khorezm - the center of a vast empire.

Murder of Khwarezmshah Mamun in 1017; seizure of power by Mahmud of Ghaznev; Gurganj - the capital of the state; flourishing of urban centers, literature, and art; creation of an "Academy" at the court of the Khwarezmshahs; in architecture and fine plastics, the change of the harsh constructivist style with lush decor; construction of mausoleums and minarets; facing with carved terracotta and colored glazed windows; construction of a new building in the city.-

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Table. Continuation

Natural resources


Socio-economic, political, and cultural aspects


Phenomena and events


Phenomena and events


Phenomena and events

the development of fortifications; the introduction of catapults; the construction of new caravanserais; in the social system, the main figure is not a representative of the ancestral patriarchal nobility-dikhkan, but an aristocrat - a landowner who received land for service; rural settlements on both banks of the Amu Darya are of the same type.

XIII - XIV centuries. An era of two environmental crises

The era of cold snap ("little ice age"); reduction of water inflow to the Aral Sea; significant desertification of the sea floor; desiccation of delta reservoirs and the Aral Sea Delta itself.

Southward migration of the Amu Darya; flooding of the Prisarykamysh delta and resumption of runoff along the Uzboy River; gradual attenuation of the Aral delta; ecological crisis; drop in the level of the Aral Sea by more than 50 meters.

Reduction of irrigated land on the right bank; a significant part of the irrigated land turned into desert; agriculture only on the banks of the Amu Darya.

Destruction of the irrigation system and dam near Gurganj; relocation of the Turkmen Boyandyr fishing tribe to the Caspian Sea.

The demise of the Khwarezmshahs; in the second half of the 14th century, military clashes between Timur's power and the Golden Horde (due to domination over the caravan routes of the Northern Trade Route); during 18 years (1370-1388), Timur made five campaigns against Khwarezm; Gurganj was finally destroyed, all the lands in the north and northwest were devastated Khorezm; Khorezm is located away from the main trade routes.

The invasion of Jochi and Chagatai troops; the devastation of Khorezm; the extermination of the population; almost all major cities (Kurder, Dargan, Tahiria, Mazdahan, etc.) in ruins; the cities of Saray Berke, Saray Batu and Urgench - the centers of caravan trade in the Golden Horde Khanate; the prosperity of crafts; the cities of Medminia (Bograkhan), Git are finally empty (Puljoy), etc. in the western part of the lower delta of the river.

XV-early XX centuries. The era of socio-ecological stability

Relative environmental stability

Ecological stabilization after the crisis of the XIV century; episodic violations of ecological stability due to climate fluctuations; in the middle of the XVI century, the Amu Darya was completely destroyed.-

Relative socio-ecological stability, based on three fundamental factors: the immutability of arable land area, population size, and stability

In the middle of the 16th century, the population left the shores of Lake Sarykamysh; the Urgench Canal dried up due to the waterlessness of Daryalyk; some revival of irrigation.-

Political and economic stagnation of Khorezm until the beginning of the XX century; internecine wars between Khorezm princes; raids of Uzbek khans and Iranian sha-

Kunya-Urgench was finally abandoned as the capital; in the middle of the XVII century, a new Urgench was built, which became an important trade center in Khorezm; since the XVI century, the capital -

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Table. Ending

Natural resources


Socio-economic, political, and cultural aspects


Phenomena and events


Phenomena and events


Phenomena and events

Lake Sarykamysh begins to quickly become shallow and saline; in the warm epochs of the XIX-XX centuries, the Amu Darya again migrates in a northerly direction; as a result, its left bank (Prisarykamysh Delta) is drained, but the water content of the right bank increases.

decline of land fertility.

in the XVI century: the ancient Madra canal (Ghaziabad) was restored; two new canals were built in Southern Khorezm - Shahabad near the cities of Khanki, Urgench, and Tashauz; in the middle of the XIX century, catastrophic flooding near the hill of Kushkan-Tau, inhabited by Karakalpaks, and the complete lack of water in the Khan-Abad district, located to the west; Dams are being built in the northwestern part of Khorezm, but the river is flooding the Kungrad and Shomonai agricultural areas.

khov; at the beginning of the XVI century. the formation of the Khiva Khanate headed by the Khan of the Uzbek dynasty.

Khiva; decline of urban planning, degradation of ceramic and other applied arts (monotony of forms, paintings, compositions); at the beginning of the XIX century. restoration and decoration of Khiva (palaces, madrassas, mosques, mausoleums, commercial and communal structures); buildings repeat the type established by the XV-XVI centuries.

Late XX - early XXI centuries. Socio-ecological crisis

Warming in the second half of the XX century; ecological crisis as a consequence of human economic activity; decrease in drainage in the Amu Darya; drying up of the Aral Sea and desertification of the Aral Sea region.

Local ecological crisis caused by a violation of the correspondence between water consumption for household needs in the upper and middle reaches of the Amu Darya and the conditions for maintaining the water balance in the Aral Sea basin; exposure of the seabed; salt storms; the disappearance of many plant and animal species.

The development of an ecological crisis into a complex socio-ecological one; degradation of nature and society; pollution of river waters with industrial waste and insecticides; degradation of the water basin and the Aral Sea biocenoses; activation of migration flows; changes in the reproduction process; changes in social psychology, social and demographic structure of the population, types of economic activity and employment; impoverishment, physical and cultural degradation of people.

Decrease in drainage in the Amu Darya due to water withdrawal for irrigation in the upper and middle reaches of the river due to environmentally and economically inefficient management; phenomena of ethno-cultural consolidation, emigration and re-emigration; outflow of population to cities; decrease in the birth rate and increase in mortality.

Social transformations of the 1920s-1980s: cultural revolution, urbanization, industrialization, modernization of agriculture; population growth; regressive processes of socio-ecological crisis: monoculturization and intensification of agriculture, growth of social infantilism.

Achievement of universal literacy, construction of modern cities and urban-type settlements; modernization of the village (electrification, gasification, transition to modern modes of transport, etc.).


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E. V. BURNAKOVA, HYPOTHESIS ON THE SOCIO-NATURAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE ARAL SEA REGION // Tallinn: Library of Estonia (LIBRARY.EE). Updated: 30.06.2024. URL: (date of access: 15.07.2024).

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