History of termez

Archaeologists found the oldest evidence on Uzbekistan territory of human life near Termez. Soviet explorers discovered in a cave the remains of a Neanderthal child in 1938, who must have lived about 70,000 years ago. In addition, they found various cave paintings.

Termez was conquered by troops of Alexander the Great in 329 B.C. and received the name Demetris. In the 1-3rd centuries, it was part of the kingdom of Kushan and known as Ta-li-mi. At that time, Buddhism spread from India to Central Asia, Afghanistan, and modern China and became the main religion of the region. Some historical Buddhist buildings can still be visited today. Many Buddhist statues are exposed in the Termez Archeological Museum and the State Museum of History in Tashkent. In addition, Zoroastrian structures are also preserved in Termez.

30 km west of Termez lies the ruins of the ancient settlement of Kampyr-tepa directly on Amu Darya bank. It has recently hit the newspapers’ headlines due to the work of the Uzbek archaeologist Edward Rtveladze. In his article, he creates the thesis that Kampyr-tepa is the settlement of Alexandria Oxus (Aleksandria Oksianskaya) founded by Alexander the Great. He proved that below the previously known buildings from the Kushan Empire (1st-3rd century), there is another cultural layer with structures from the 4th century B.C.; this would fit chronologically to the conquests of Alexander. The theory is controversial; many scientists still assume that Alexandria Oxus was on the ancient settlement Ai Khanum site in today’s Afghanistan on the left bank of the Amu Darya.

Termez during Afghan war

Termez experienced a boom during the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989. Termez is located directly on the border with Afghanistan; the Soviet army used the city as a camp for their military campaigns. Many soldiers lived with their families in the city and took advantage of the city’s cultural offerings during the front leave. There was a philharmonic orchestra, many restaurants as well as play and sports facilities for the children. The local population earned additional income by smuggling goods from Afghanistan. With the army’s presence, the local central market was so rich that customers even came from Samarkand or Dushanbe.

After the end of the war in Afghanistan in 1989 and the Soviet Union collapsed, Termez had to combat economic backwardness. The military base was abandoned, and with the departure of the soldiers, people lost many jobs. 

The city’s most famous son is al-Hakim at-Termizi, an Islamic mystical thinker and author of numerous works on various issues concerning the relationship between God, the cosmos, and man. Additionally, he is known as the collector of Hadith (words, actions and silent approvals of the Prophet Muhammad). His tomb mausoleum is considered one of the holiest sights of Termez.

The city lies on the river Amu Darya, which represents the border between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. A few kilometres east of the city, the Bridge of Friendship was built during the Soviet era, the only connection between the two neighbouring countries. 

General information:

  • Population: 140, 000 (2018)
  • Elevation: 306 m

Air connections: Termez has an airport from which flights to Tashkent and Russia are offered.

Railway connections: There is a night train connection to and from Tashkent.

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