Fortress Kyrkkyz kala (“forty girls”) is located on the natural hill, 94.6 metres above sea level, in the south-eastern part of Ayazkol salt marsh, in the northern part of Bilkum sand, 8.8 kilometres north-east of Kyrkkyz village, 15.2 kilometres northwest of the settlement of Kokcha, 12.8 kilometres north and slightly west of the settlement of Jambaskala, and 28 kilometres northeast of the settlement of Ellikkala in the Ellikala district of the Republic of Karakalpakstan.
The fortress of Kyrkkyz Kala from the I-6th century AD is located outside the town and was probably a country residence of the rulers. This fortress was already known in the III-IV century. The Kyrkkyz Kala (Small) fortress is the same age as Kyrkkyz Kala (Large).
The fortress was fortified in the V-VI centuries and the old walls were surrounded on all sides with a new wall of baked bricks. The two-storey minarets built into the walls of the fortress have double-row scrolls for firing.
In the middle of the north gate, just before the entrance, was a labyrinth. There is a version that a fortified entrance may have been in the southern part of the fortress. The fort was built of mud bricks on a small stone mound.
The settlement was discovered in 1938 during archaeological excavations. Its dimensions are 65x63x65 metres and it had two floors with arrow windows in the outer wall. According to the researchers, the fortress was built to protect the northeastern borders of ancient Choresm.
Archaeologists have found burials in the fortress that were made according to the rites of ancient fire worshippers. Human bones were placed in ceramic jars – bumblebees shaped like a woman’s head. This fortress was once a trading post on the Great Silk Road. The fortress was built of mud bricks with the addition of clay, and the vaulted ceilings were made of burnt bricks.
According to the excavations, it is believed that the fortress was divided into four parts. The northwestern and northeastern parts each had 5 rooms connected only by a corridor. The south-western part also had five rooms, but there were only two corridors.
The south-eastern part had two rooms and a corridor. The other part of the residence had a reception room where the dervishes prayed. The interior of the residence was not distinguished by lavish decoration.
The sophistication of the interior is characterised by different shapes and technologies of the masonry of the window openings and arched openings. The excavated remains of clay and bricks indicate that they were used in the construction of the castle.
According to the layout of the castle, there were many small rooms and a large burnt brick room along the north wall. Between 30 and 50 metres from the south wall was a multi-roomed building in which iron remains, slag waste and an iron smelting furnace were found.
In the southeast of the fortress, the remains of an iron workshop measuring 12 by 13 metres were found, dating to the VII-VIII century AD. In 1984, a ceramic jar full of copper coins was found in the plain near the Kyrkkyz Kala fortress in Karakalpakstan.
The coins had been corroded by moisture and salt. Only one of the coins has retained its appearance. During cleaning, a bas-relief of the ruler of Khoresm without a beard was found on the obverse of the coin.
The crown on the ruler’s head is depicted as the rising sun and the new moon is shown above the sun. Siyavush is depicted on the reverse of the coin. In the foreground of Siyavush, a woman is depicted playing a stringed instrument similar to a dutar.
The woman is wearing a light dress and a duzi duppi (a headdress for Khorezm women), which was worn on formal occasions. Siyavush’s face is not visible and the horse is shown moving.
The woman is depicted as a beautiful, tastefully dressed queen. The composition on the coin suggests that Khorezmian women in the pre-Islamic period dressed beautifully and mastered the art of dancing and singing and played musical instruments perfectly.
The image of a ruler without a beard and the ancient Khorezm inscriptions on the coin suggest that the coin was minted in the 5th-6th century (in his work “Ancient Khorezm), S. P. Tolstov states that ancient Khorezm coins depicting rulers without beards date from the 5th-6th century AD).
The name of the fortress means “forty girls”. According to legend, the fortress was the home of the brave Queen Gulayim and her forty companions. These brave women fought against fearsome enemies.