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The roots of history of Karakalpakistan are very complex and rich in historic events. It includes various cultural and traditional mixtures of different nations. The culture and traditions developed so perfectly that it began to be outstanding in comparison with other nations.


Mizdakhan is a complex of historical monuments located on three hills and a plane between them. The flat top of the west hill is crowned with the ruins of Gyaur-Kala Fortress, built in the 4th century BC. This fortress was used to defend a large town that occupied the eastern hill. Scholars identify Mizdakhan with the town Mazda built in honor of Akhura-Mazda - the main fire-worshippers’ deity who was mentioned in the holy Zoroastrian book Avesta. Today the eastern hill hosts the oldest Central Asian necropolis. The necropolis spreads over an area of about 100 hectares and historians believe it is over two thousand years old. On the slopes of the hill there is a large number of clay ossuary – urns or chests to keep the bones of the deceased Zoroastrians. There was also discovered a rich burial place with a ceramic sarcophagus; some ossuaries contained gold ritual objects, religious symbols and inscriptions made in Ancient Khorezmian language. A big part of Zoroastrian necropolis is overlapped by a Muslim graveyard; its earliest graves date back to the times when Khozem was conquered by the Arabs.

On the top of the eastern hill in the 12th-13th centuries there was built the unusual semi-underground mausoleum Muzlumkhan-Sulu. According to a legend, Khorezmian ruler’s daughter Muzlumkhan was buried here. She was a very beautiful girl, and the noblest men strived for her hand. But she fell in love with an ordinary architect. The khan agreed to give his daughter in marriage to him if only he could built a sky-high minaret in a night’s time. The man fulfilled this condition but the khan did not keep his promise, and the man threw himself from the top of the minaret he had built. And so did the princess, right after her beloved. The khan ordered to destroy the minaret, and to bury the loving couple together, and above their burial ground to build a mausoleum from bricks once used for the construction of the minaret.

Today only the domes and the portal of the mausoleum rise over the ground. Through a vaulted corridor down to a small room and further down to the main hall there run stone stairs; the passages from the hall lead to scantily lit small rooms covered with octahedral vaults. On a hot day, when outside the temperature exceeds 40 degrees Celsius, it is really cool in here; the sunlight getting in through the windows in the vaults illuminates blue mosaics on the walls and the vault of the mausoleum.

The niches of the main hall contain two tombstones covered with white and blue glazed tiles containing gilt patterns. The tombstones are decorated with Arabic epitaphs made in naskh script and quoting the lines from the Koran. There are neither names nor death dates of the people buried inside.

At a distance of 120 meterssouth of Muzkumkhan-Sulu Mausoleum are the ruins of the most mysterious Mizdakhan structure – Erejep Caliph Mausoleum. According to the legend, it is the burial place of an Islamic saint who preached in the area when Islam only began spreading in the region. However, many people believe that it is the burial place of Biblical Adam.

Photo by G.Tugay, E.Aleynikova


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