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Religion and art of the settlement of Kuyruk-tobe.

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The world' s most ancient towns sprang up in the fertile oasis of the steppes near the Syr-Darya River, where nomadic and settled civilisations met. For centuries а system of age-old caravan routes, leading from China to the Middle East and Europe, passed through this land.
The towns located on the Great Silk Road - Taraz, Otrar, Ispijab (Sairam), Yassy - were major trading  centres in ancient and medieval times. The Silk Road (Zhibek Zholy in Kazakh) emerged as а trade route in the IIIrd century ВС and endured until the XVIth century.
A considerable part оf the route-1,700 kilometres - lay in Мау Kazakhstan. The medieval settlement of Kuyruk-tobe is located in the Otrar district of the Turkestan region in the Otrar oasis. It is identified with the city of Keder, which in the IXth - XIth centuries, according to written sources, was the capital of the Farab district.
During many years of archaeological work on the territory of the ancient settlement Kuyruk-tobe, a significant amount of material was collected that required analysis. On an elevated site of the settlement, a castle-type building was revealed.
The excavation at the citadel opened the building structures of three periods. The constructions of the lower initial horizon, related to the palace building, date from the second half of the VIIth - the first half of the IXth century.
On the plan of the preserved part of the palace, the largest area is occupied by the central hall, the dimensions of which are 15 x 10.5 m. Sufas were located along the walls. When clearing the hall, a large number of the remains of a burnt wooden floor and carved planks, decorated with ornaments and plot scenes with images of Avestan gods and representatives of the nobility, were discovered.
After drawing and comprehension, the carved wooden decor of the central hall was reconstructed. The composition of the northwest wall, located behind the throne of the ruler, in a reconstructed form is mounted in the exposition of the Museum of Archeology of the NAS of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
Carved wooden decor adorned the room, combining the functions of the main hall and the cult hall "dare-mehr". Nearby was a room for storing the sacred fire "Adurian" with a round podium in the center. From the decoration of the central hall, one can judge how important the Avestan religion (Mithraism) was among members of noble families.
As shown by archaeological work carried out on the site of Kuyruk-tobe, in almost every dwelling of the early medieval time of the 6th-8th centuries there was a home altar in the central dwelling. These premises, as well as the central hall of the palace, combined household and cultural functions.
The altar consisted of an altar niche - a rectangular recess in the wall, contoured by a roller and an altar podium under it. In the XIIth-century houses in Otrar and Kuyruk-toba, ornamented floor centers of altars were discovered that testify to the preservation of relics of the Avestan faith and are used, despite the rule of Islam.
The religious worldview was reflected in works of art that were included in the system of religious worship and performed certain functions in it. Things used as attributes in ritual practice often have artistic value. In the planned monograph of the settlement of Kuyruk-tobe, it is planned to consider the visual features, semantic meaning and functional use of artistic ceramics, artistic metal and carved wood, which will be devoted to three chapters.

Authority:
Karl Baaipakov, Academician of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Director of the Institute of Archeology named after A. Margulan.

Photos
Alexander Petrov.