The fortified settlement of Afrasiab

In 1220 the town was conquered and destroyed by the troops of Genghis Khan. Gradually the revived life shifted to the south. The old town fell into disrepair, which was later called Afrasiab after the mythical king of Turan from the poem “Shahname” by Firdawsi.

Archaeological excavations began on the territory of Afrasiab at the end of the 19th century, which are still going on today. Archaeological excavations have shown that it was a city with extensive sewage and water supply systems, public baths, rich palaces and dwellings. Craftsmen’s workshops occupied individual quarters.

Afrasiab Museum

In 1965 a team of archaeologists discovered an entire palace complex just a few hundred metres from the Afrasiab Archaeological Museum. A unique revelation is the discovery of frescoes dating back to the 7th century. The frescoes decorated the four walls of an 11 X 11 meters square room. Most likely, this was a palace or a residence of the king himself, which had 30 rooms and two floors. These murals illustrate ancient Sogdiana’s* life, culture, and prosperity (an empire that existed in Central Asia). They show various aspects of Sogdian King Warhuman’s, such as: 

– The reception of foreign ambassadors received by King Warhuman

– A wedding or memorial ceremony (opinions differ what it was)

– A scene from the civilization of China (indicating a possible alliance with China)

– A scene depicting either India or a Zoroastrian paradise

Afrasiab wall painting. Samarkand
Afrasiab paintings. South wall

*Sogdiana – an ancient historical region of Central Asia. Currently, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, South Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan exist on the former territory of Sogdiana. The centre of Sogdiana was Samarkand city

The frescoes as they have come down to us have had deliberate damage. It is thought that it might happen when the power of Warhuman, or his successor, came to an end.

Today the frescoes are in the Afrasiab Archaeological Museum, located at the ancient site of Afrasiab. The museum also contains a collection of archaeological objects found during excavations on the site, i.e. items dating from the 8th century BC to 1220.

Afrasiab museum, Samarkand - Adras Travel
Afrasiab Museum

No one lives on the site of the ancient settlement of Afrasiab today. Still, there are architectural monuments on the territory of Afrasiab, such as the Shakhi-Zinda complex, the mausoleum of Prophet Daniel and the later Khazrat-Khizr mosque, close to which the first president of Uzbekistan was buried.

The ruins of Afrasiab likely hold many secrets, which may reveal more detailed historical facts in the future.


Architctural Monuments of Samarkand

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