About Ancient Panjakent

Tajikistan, Tajikistan
Distance: 897 metres (Map)

About Ancient Panjakent - Cya On The Road

Dear Guests, we are happy to welcome you here at the unique architectural monument of Ancient Panjakent.Today you may only find uneven terrain covered with steppe grass the ruins  of a handful of ancient buildings, but 1500 years ago there was a large well-fortified town whose name was inherited by the modern city of Panjakent.In the spring of 1932 a shepherd named Juralee saw that one of his sheep had fallen into a pit. When rescuing the sheep, Juralee discovered a half-rotten basket made of willow twigs which contained old manuscripts written on wood, leather, and cotton paper. The shepherd brought his finding to the local mullah, who was the most literate citizen, however he could not identify the origin of the text. When local authorities learned about the manuscripts, they decided to send the photocopies to Leningrad, where the manuscripts were identified as Sogdian. These were the first Sogdian documents found on the territory of modern Tajikistan, which was once part of ancient historical civilization known as Sogdiana.In the Fall of 1933, the Leningrad-based scholar of Iranian culture Aleksandr Freiman led an expedition to Panjakent. Researchers found a large archive of documents – 74 in the Sogdian language, one in Arabic, one in Turkic, and several in Chinese. Intermittently from the mid-1960s hrough the mid-1990s scientists, archaeologists, and anthropologists studied in detail the entire territory of ancient Panjakent, the results of which exceeded all expectations.These expeditions discovered the temple of Divashtich, the last ruler of Panjakent. They also found two temples with extensive courtyards, streets, shops, workshops, bazaars, fortress walls, and a number of  multi-room two- and even three-story dwellings, the richest of which were decorated with art walls and wooden sculptures. But most of all, the ancient settlement of Panjakent has become famous for its picturesque and vivid wall paintings, which have survived despite being in ruins for more than 1300 years.Ancient Panjakent is not only the longest-excavated, but also the most-researched monument of the early Middle Ages in Tajikistan and Central Asia. Famous archaeologists like Alexander Belenitsky, Valentina Raspopova, Abdullojon Iskhakov, and the world-famous scientist Boris Marshak devoted many years of their lives to its study. Marshak, who had been in love with Tajikistan, even requested to be buried there at the end of his life, and in 2006 he was buried in Panjakent. In recent years, Pavel Lurie and Sharofiddin Kurbanov have been leading a team of Russian-Tajik archaelogists in Panjakent’s ongoing excavations.Panjakent was a town of aristocracy, dominated by the local landowners. However, the town itself did not make much money from agriculture; the main source of income was trade.  From the 5th to 8th century AD this settlement was the most important cultural and trade center of all Central Asia, an important transit point on one of the central branches of the Great Silk Road Merchants put up their goods for sale, teahouse keepers fed tired travelers, and caravaners hid animals from robbers at night behind the high sheltering walls of the houses of aristocrats were decorated with exquisite frescoes and abound in expensive tableware and utensils. Archaeologists have repeatedly found burials in expensive clothes and jewelry.The decline of prosperity in the town came in the second half of the 8th century, when Islam came to Central Asia. Arab conquerors forcibly subjugated the region, but the locals repeatedly rebelled against them. In response, the Arabs ravaged the city and the surrounding villages several times. As a result, Panjakent finally fell into desolation in a couple of decades. 

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