Karakalpakstan - Ayaz Kala Fortress 2
Ayaz Kala Fortress №2 is located on a natural hill, in the southern part of Ayazkol and in the eastern part of Pashahaykum Sands, at the eastern end of Sultan-Uvays Mountain, about 20.5 kilometres north and slightly east of Bustan settlement, 19.5 kilometres north and slightly west of the settlement of Shark-Yulduzi, 19.4 kilometres northwest of the settlement of Jambaskala and 42.3 kilometres northeast of the town of Beruni in the district of Ellikala in the Republic of Karakalpakstan.
The Ayaz Kala fortress in Karakalpakstan was surveyed by S.P. Tolstov in 1939 and dated to the first century AD. In 1971, the excavation was carried out. The monument is built on a natural conical hill with a height of about 30 metres above the level of the surrounding takyrs and has a complex construction.
The north and south walls of the fortress are parallel. The eastern part has the shape of a semi-oval. The western part is rounded so that the north-western corner protrudes slightly. The main part of the fortress has a cross-section from south to north of 36 metres and from west to east of 65 metres.
An entrance complex adjoins the south side of the main castle. It projects about 20 metres to the south and is 31 metres long. The lower part of the walls, 3.35-3.85 metres high, is built of pahsa (rammed earth, a material used for earthen buildings in Western and Central Asia). The upper part of the walls is built of 37-37 x 37-38 x 8-9 cm solid bricks.
The inclination of the lower part of the walls to the base is 85°. The upper part of the oval castle is decorated all around with half columns. They project 0.40-0.45 m from the plane of the walls. The length of the half-columns along the façade is 1.55-1.60 metres.
The height of the half-columns is 2.4 to 3.7 metres. The surface of each half-column is decorated with five artificial embrasures. The upper part of the half-pillars has not been preserved. At the base of the half-pillars along the entire circumference of the walls are embrasures with a rectangular outline.
The embrasures are arranged every two half-pillars. The width of the openings is 0.18 metres. The height of the embrasures is about 0.85 metres. The embrasures have a floor angle of 35°. The bottom of the embrasure is 0.78 to 0.80 metres above the bottom of the firing lane.
Half of the embrasure leading to the firing line has a flat tile floor made of clay bricks. The overlap of the other part of the embrasure is parallel to the floor. Along the outer wall of the fort is a 2.32 m wide gun portico.
The width of the inner wall is 1.23 metres. In the middle of the westernmost part of the hilltop, at the highest point, there is a circular depression with a diameter of about 15 metres and a depth of 3.3 metres.
The lowest edges of the excavation are sandstone outcrops with iron concretions. Two test pits located between the mainland and the ground level reveal layers of mud bricks up to 2.7 metres thick, measuring 38 – 40 x 38 – 40 x 8 – 10 cm, filled with sand.
The thickness of the masonry used to level the slopes increases towards the castle walls. The levelling of the hillsides was necessary for the construction of a small castle on the hilltop.
The excavations also indicate that the entire castle area was probably covered by relatively narrow, corridor-shaped rooms. The ceilings were probably vaulted. The walls are up to 0.7 metres thick.
The maximum height of the walls is 0.7 metres. The cultural layer of the floor consists of the soft golden mass in the lower part and a layer of dung. The corridors and the living area cut into a depression in the middle of the castle, which testifies to the later foundation of the castle.
6.4 metres east of the bend in the north wall is an arch opening 2 metres wide and 3.5 metres long. The vault is made of trapezoidal brick. The rectangular entrance complex adjoins the south wall.
In its east wall are 9 shallow slab embrasures spaced 0.88 to 1.8 metres apart. The entrance slots are 0.11-0.19 metres wide. Their height is 0.97 to 1.10 metres. The angle of incidence is 300.
Some of the embrasures have the same height of entrance and exit openings. On the eastern wall there is an open talus slope 1.25 metres wide. The western part looks like a tower, which is offset by 8 metres. The entrance complex is a structure in front of the entrance.
The remains of a ramp 50 to 55 metres long have been preserved on the western slope. The width of the ramp is 2 metres and the total width is 3.1 metres. The angle of the ramp is between 15 and 200 metres. At its eastern end, it meets a rectangular tower measuring 9 x 8 metres.
It is 5 to 6 metres from the west wall of the entrance complex. The cantilever tower with the entrance complex by the bascule bridge. The ceramic material is represented by pottery and stucco vessels dating from the second half of the VII century and the first half of the VIII century.
In the XII – early XIII century, 6 rooms were built along the northern wall. In the entrance complex, the upper part of the southern wall and the western tower were built of rough bricks measuring 26 x 26 x 4 – 5 cm at a height of 3.3 metres.
The entire complex in the south-eastern corner was filled with continental sand taken from a pit in the middle of the castle. Several rooms were built in the western part of the entrance complex.
The extensive fortress on a flat hill, possibly built in the IVth century BC, was reinforced five centuries later, during the Kushan Empire, by an amazing castle on a steep hill 60 metres high to make the climb, difficult for a man on foot even in an easy position.
The walls of Ayaz-kala faced all four cardinal directions, and the single entrance, fronted by an elaborate labyrinth, was built to the south so that the south wind would blow dust and rubbish out of the city.
According to local legend, in times of great unrest, when the old ruler died and there was no one to take his place, it was predicted by the priests to the assembled crowd that whoever would chase a royal falcon on his arm would be elected the new Shah.
However, the bird did not land on the arm but on the head of a common soldier, and when they drove it away, it returned to the same spot for the second time. The people crowned the warrior who personally supervised the building of a new castle on the hill and ruled in it long and justly.
In order not to forget his origins, the warrior of yesterday and king of today ordered an old, worn boot to be hung in a prominent place in front of the throne.
The legend indirectly confirms that new forts and palaces were built with extraordinary ease in ancient Khorezm during the succession of ruling dynasties. From the top of Ayaz-kala Mountain, there is a view of the lake of the same name, Ayazkol, whose waters are so salty that in summer they seem to be covered by a crust of ice.
To the north, the silhouette of the nearest castle, Kyrkkyz-Kala, is barely visible on the horizon. There, archaeologists found an amazing burial according to the rites of the ancient fire worshippers – the parts of a human skeleton, cleaned by the sun and birds of prey, were placed in a ceramic jar – humming in the shape of a woman’s head.
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