How old is Turkestan?

Autor of text: 
Not so long ago Turkestan city celebrated its 1500th anniversary. But, nevertheless, nobody really knows the true age of the city.

No founding boards with acts of the beginning of construction were discovered. The first written mentioninf of Yasah belongs to a visiting Armenian - King Getum the First, who came to Mongol Hulagu Khan in search of justice. If we recall that Taraz has been also "discovered" by Zemarh Cilicia (from Cilicia, a region in the south of Minor Asia, that was the territory of the vassal to Byzantine Armenian state), then undoubted "Armenian contribution" to the historiography of the ancient cities of southern Kazakhstan becomes very clear.


However, this evidence belongs to the middle of the XIII century and does not have anything to do with the past anniversary. But then what has? Archaeological evidence, which can be used to determine (very vaguely) that the settlement on the hill Kul-Tobe (near the mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed) has existed already in the middle of the first millennium.

To assess the degree of tension in Turkestan history lets try to look at the history of Yasi - Turkestan from the positions supported by sources. Picture (very rough) appears approximately like the following:

- The beginning of the XIII century. The city was taken by the Mongols; apparently - without a fight.

- The middle of the XIII century. Like all towns near Syr Darya, Yasy is arena for intertribal gang of the descendants of Genghis Khan.

- Beginning of the XIV century. Power of Ak -Orda.

- 1370 's. Tokhtamysh (Timur’s friend) got Yasy and all the surrounding towns as an allotment.

- 1388 Tokhtamysh (already Timur’s enemy) "robbed Yasy".

- 1389 Timur passes over the Syr Darya and takes cities on this side back (including Yasy).

- 1404 Timur gives the city as a present to his beloved grandson - Ulugbek.

- The middle of the XV century – city was plundered by Moguls. Then it was conquered by Uzbeks.

- The last decades of the XV century. Yasy repeatedly passed from hand to hand of belligerent Timur’s associates, Shaybanids, Kazakh and Mughal khans.

- At the beginning of the XVI century the city belonged to Kazakh khans, but in the 30s it was occupied again by the army of Tashkent ruler. This started the epoch of struggle between Kazakh, Tashkent and Bukhara rulers. By the end of the century Tevekkel seized Tashkent as well as Yasy (and soon renamed it to Turkestan). Turkestan became the capital of Kazakh khans.

- 1603 Abd al-Ghaffar (protégé of Karakalpaks) ravaged the city.

- The beginning of the 1600. Fight for Turkestan between the khans Yesim and Tursun.

- 1720s. Dzhungars seized and plundered the city.

- 1750s. Bukhara seized Turkestan for a while.

- 1770s. Turkestan becomes the capital of Ablay Khan.

- 1785. Emir of Bukhara occupied city again. Then Turkestan passed to Tashkent; then again to Bukhara (1810);  and finally to Kokand (1819).

- 1864 Turkestan seized by Russian detachment of Colonel Verevkin.

A famous Russian explorer Nikolai Severtsov, who happened to spend a whole month in Kokand’s Turkestan as a prisoner, revealed how it really looked like half a century ago...

"... The streets are certainly not smooth, not paved, narrow, knocked by pedestrians, camels and horses...

... Green is not visible, neither on the streets nor in the yards, no trees, no grass, Kyrgyz cemetery with its diverse graves looks friendlier and more like a habitable place than this confusion of alleyways...

…Citadel is four- sided and one side is leaning against the city wall. In this citadel lives Datka and her officers and garrison, a large mosque Azret Sultan is there  as well”.

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