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Ancient settlement Karaspantobe.

Tours to ancient monuments of Turkestan region.

"History is a union between the dead, the living and the unborn."

Edmund Burke.

Medieval monuments of Turkestan region.

Karaspantobe (Karaspan-Tobe, Karaspan; kaz. Karaspantube) is a medieval settlement in the Ordabasy region of the Turkestan region of Kazakhstan. It includes two ancient settlements located approximately at a distance of a kilometer from each other.
Karaspantobe is part of a system of "watch hills" (karaultobe) - guard posts and fortified settlements located on man-made embankments. Fortifications of this type, common on the territory of the modern Turkestan region of Kazakhstan, began to appear in the early Middle Ages.
The settlement of Karaspantobe-I, located 2 km south of the village of Karaaspan (formerly Obruchevka), dates back to the 6th-8th centuries. The settlement arose on an oblong embankment up to 9 meters high, stretched from south to north by 80 meters. A rectangular mound with an area of ​​120 × 70 meters and a height of 2 meters joins the southern part of the embankment.
The main part of the settlement Karaspantobe-II, located 1 km south of the village of Karaaspan, dates back to the VIII-XII centuries. However, in the course of research in 2004-2005, both traces of an earlier settlement from the times of the Otrar-Karatau culture, which arose in the 1st century, and a later cultural layer in the central part, dating from the late XVIIth - early XVIIIth centuries, were found.
In the center of the settlement there is a sub-rectangular citadel located at the top of a high embankment and surrounded by a circular rabad. The base area of ​​the citadel is 120 × 90 meters, the upper platform is 65 × 50 meters, the height of the upper platform is 22 - 24 meters.
The citadel and rabad are separated by an internal platform 30 - 50 meters wide. Rabad is located on the lower terrace, the height of which does not exceed 5 meters. The width of the rabad ring varies from 20 to 60 meters. Traces of the fortress gate are oriented to the west, east and north.
On the territory of the rabad, there is a mass grave of an unknown period, accidentally discovered in the early 1990s. Presumably, participants in the battle with the Dzungars are buried in it. The remains of buildings of the latest period, made of raw bricks, burnt bricks and stones, have been best preserved to this day.
Residential buildings, as a rule, consisted of 2 - 3 rooms and were supplied with tandoors and sewage drains. In addition, during the excavations in 2004, workshops of artisans dating from the 1st - early 9th centuries were discovered, as well as a pre-Muslim religious building with an altar and a palace complex of the XIIth century.
According to archaeologists BA Baitanaev and KM Baipakov, the settlement also includes a part of the burials on the territory of the Borizhar necropolis, located south of Karaspantobe-II. The ancient settlement Karaspantobe-I was discovered by the archaeological expedition of the Chimkent Pedagogical Institute in 1980.
During the expedition, fragments of ceramic dishes, bowls, jugs and other household items were found. It was established that the inhabitants were engaged in agriculture and cattle breeding. No further archaeological excavations were carried out.
The first investigations of the settlement Karaspantobe-II were carried out in 1898 by an archaeological expedition led by N.P. Ostroumov. In 1946 and 1951, during the South Kazakhstan archaeological expedition, research was carried out under the leadership of A. N. Bernshtam and E. I. Ageeva, respectively.
In 2004 - 2005, within the framework of the Kazakhstani state program "Cultural Heritage" under the leadership of K.M.Baipakov, research work was carried out, which made it possible to clarify the dating of the settlement.
In 2014, Karaspantobe was visited by an expedition led by A. N. Podushkin, working within the framework of the scientific program "Archaeological and Written Monuments of the State of Kangyui". The South Kazakhstan archaeological expedition found that local residents, in addition to farming and cattle breeding, were engaged in various crafts.
During the excavation, the remains of various household items and tools were found. An expedition led by K.M.Baipakov, during a survey of the latest cultural layer, collected fragments of hums made by the ribbon method, and samples of glazed ceramics (bowls, dishes, mugs), painted mainly with one or two paints with a predominance of spiral ornaments. In addition, grain and cotton grains were found in the dwellings.
Finds from earlier periods include the remains of a smelting forge of the IIIrd - Vth centuries, a spinning wheel of the Vth - VIth centuries, a kaolin crucible from the VIIth - early IXth centuries, as well as samples of Karakhanid ceramics decorated using traditional Islamic motifs.
In 2009, in one of the naus on the territory of the part of the Borijar necropolis corresponding to the city, a copper medallion was discovered, similar in design to the gold coins of the times of the Kushan king Huvishka I.
According to BA Baitanaev's assumption, the settlement of Karaspantobe-II corresponds to the pre-Mongol medieval town of Arsubaniket. On the contrary, EI Ageeva, GI Patsevich and some other researchers compare Arsubaniket with Juvantobe - another settlement on the territory of the Ordabasy region.
At the same time, Karaspantobe-II is related by them to the city that arose during the time of the Karakhanid state and in the XIV century was called Karasaman, in the 16th century - Khalaj-Karasaman, and in the epic "Koblandy-batyr" referred to as Karasapan.
According to the testimony of Nizam ad-Din Shami and Sharaf ad-Din Yazdi, in 1392 Tamerlane received the ambassadors of Khan Tokhtamysh in Karasaman. The Bukhara historian of the 16th century Hafiz-i Tanish Bukhari reported that in 1581 (during the war with Baba Sultan) Abdullah Khan II's train was in Karasaman.
There is information about the capture of Karasaman by the Dzungar troops in the 1680s and the resettlement of its inhabitants at the direction of the Kazakh khan Tauke. According to A. N. Podushkin, Karaspantobe is associated with the city of Bityan, which is mentioned in the Chinese chronicles as one of the capitals of the Kangyui state.
Archaeologist B.A.Baitanaev in 2014 pointed to the uncontrolled building and extraction of clay by brick factories in the areas of archaeological excavations in the South Kazakhstan region, including near Karaspantobe.
In 2018, Minister of Culture and Sports of Kazakhstan Arystanbek Mukhamediuly noted that uncontrolled archaeological excavations, in particular the occurrence of unauthorized dumps, caused considerable damage to the settlement, as well as to other monuments of the Turkestan region.
The archaeological site of Karaspantobe is on the list of preliminary registration of objects of historical and cultural heritage, but as of 2018 it is not included in the list of historical and cultural monuments of Kazakhstan of republican significance.
Geographic coordinates of the ancient settlement Karaspan: N42 ° 28'44.93 "E69 ° 02'56.98"


Photos by
Alexander Petrov.