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Ancient valley of Uzboy river.

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"No matter how much you boil clean water, it won't get greasy"

Turkmen proverb.

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The ancient river valley (channel), 550 kilometers long, up to 4 kilometers wide, up to 55 meters deep, can be traced along the northwestern outskirts of the Karakum desert from the Sarykamysh depression to the Caspian Sea, from the southeastern end of the Ustyurt plateau to the Kelkor salt marsh.
The Uzboy channel is well preserved in the form of a canyon with a width of 100 - 300 meters (with a depth of about 40 - 50 meters) (with an average depth of 20 - 30 m) with a width of up to 4 - 6 kilometers. Steep meanders and oxbows, rapids and steep cliffs of former waterfalls, as well as a number of other factors, make it possible to speak of Uzboy as a typical river valley.
At the end of the last century, it was the bay of the Caspian Sea. In the Neogene period (about 10 million years ago), a tectonic crack formed on the line of the present Uzboy. Then it turned into a river bed. About 9,000 years ago, the Amu Darya flowed into the Sarykamysh tectonic depression.
Its waters, filling the depression, overflowed into the tectonic depression of the Uzboy and flowed along it into the Caspian Sea. Now Uzboy is dry. In some places there are salt lakes and thick layers of salt. Many ancient authors from Herodotus to Ammianus Marcellinus and a number of authors of the Xth, XIth and XVth centuries.
Argued that Oxus (as the Amu Darya was called in ancient times) flows into the Caspian Sea Patroclus (285 - 282 BC) during the exploration of the Caspian concluded that Oxus (Amu Darya) and Yaksart (Syr Darya) flow into the Caspian.
Eratosthenes (275 - 194 BC) and Strabo, on the basis of the information of Patroclus, spoke of the confluence of the Oxus and Yaxartes rivers from the east into the Caspian. According to Strabo, according to Aristobulus, the Oxus is the largest river he knew, apart from the Indian ones.
Eudoxus (III century BC) reports data on a huge waterfall at the confluence of the Oxus into the sea. Polybius knew about this (208 - 127 BC). The historian Arrian (2nd century AD) wrote about the confluence of navigable rivers into the Caspian Sea.
The Greeks ranked Oxus and Yaxartes among them. A. Biruni (971 - 1048) speaks of the flow of the Zheikhun (Amu Darya) through the deserts to the Khazar Sea. Idrisi (XII century) - "the greatest river in the world both in terms of the volume and depth of the waters, and the width of the bed." It should be remembered that by the VIII century.
The Arabs bypassed the Caspian from the north, moving from Turkestan to the Caucasus, and, therefore, had the opportunity to compare the Volga and Uzboy from personal impressions. The Uzboy river artery, the importance of which we are still accustomed to underestimating in the later water balance of the Caspian, was still in recent days a factor second only to the Volga in size, and in some moments, perhaps even surpassing it.
The work “Amu and Uzboy” (Samara, 1879) indicates that before Peter I, all maps of the Amu Darya were depicted as a tributary of the Caspian Sea, and only Peter informed the French Academy of Sciences about the diversion of the Amu Darya waters to the Aral Sea by the Khiva government.
Kaulbars established that the deviation of the Amu Darya occurred between 1470 and 1575. In some periods, it was proposed to restore the connection of the Amu Darya through the Uzboy with the Caspian Sea. The hypothesis of the confluence of the Oxus into the Caspian Sea in antiquity is refuted by many.
Taking into account the current volume of the Amu Darya runoff of 42 cubic kilometers, it can be imagined that it could play a certain role in the variability of the Caspian Sea level. The history of the formation of the Uzboy River is associated with the second half of the Quaternary (late Khvalynian) time, when the Amu Darya, due to the gradually accumulated sediments in the right-bank part of the delta, began to flow along the left-bank delta channels into the Sarykamysh depression and broke through a stream from Lake Sarykamysh into the Caspian Sea.
This happened in the period immediately following the maximum of the Khvalynskaya transgression - the offensive of the Caspian Sea on land about a million years ago. In the first stage of formation, Uzboy filled empty hollows along the way and, intensively eroding the bridges between them, forming a valley, reached the eastern bay of the Caspian.
The end of the existence of Uzboy is associated with the era of the formation of the first terrace in the lower reaches of the river. The level of the Caspian at that time dropped sharply and the channel of the Uzboy can be traced much west of the Balkhan Bay.
The history of watering the Uzboy has been one of the most complex and controversial scientific problems for several decades. The development and settlement of the adjacent territories has attracted the attention of historians and geographers since ancient times.
A detailed archaeological study of the desert and inaccessible shores of the Uzboy revealed three periods the development of this territory by man: from the XIII - XII to the end of the IV millennium BC, from the middle of the Ist millennium BC. (probably, VII - VI centuries BC) - until the middle of the Ist millennium AD. (rather IV century), as well as from the end of the XVth-beginning of the XIVth centuries. until the end of the XVth or the beginning of the XVIth century.
Modern archaeological data fully confirm the information of Herodotus, Strabo and other ancient authors about the flooding of Uzboy, which makes us trust their reports on the water trade route from India to the Caspian Sea.
The waterfalls were unlikely to be a serious obstacle here, since near them the ships were carried along the shore. The location of Igdykal, the fortress of the Parthians and early Sassanids, which controlled the Uzbek section of the trade route, is connected with one of such difficult "portages".
It probably existed in the late Achaemenid era (Vth - IVth centuries BC). Since that time, a significant population appears on the banks of the Uzboy.


Photos by
Alexander Petrov.