LocationQurgashin qala is known as Kurgashin Kala in Russian. We use the Latin transliteration of the Karakalpak spelling.
Qurgashin qala from the west.
Qurgashin qalaQurgashin qala was one of the frontier fortresses defending the northern flank of Khorezm from nomadic attack. It was built around the end of the 4th or possibly in the early 3rd century BC. It may have been garrisoned by professional troops.
Plan of Qurgashin qala.
The citadel is rectangular, measuring about 130 metres long and 90 metres wide, and it is oriented so that its corners face the four cardinal directions. There is an outer and an inner perimeter wall, separated by a space of roughly two metres for the provision of archers' galleries. The unfired mud- brick walls are built on a paqsa base and are slightly inclined inwards. In some places today they reach as high as 14 to 16 metres.
The fort has a rather irregular design – every corner is reinforced with a different arrangement of tower, either rectangular or semi-oval and either single or in pairs. The external curtain walls and towers contain two tiers of arrow-shaped loopholes.
The single entrance is positioned in the centre of the south-east wall and is defended by a rectangular barbican.
The fortress was surrounded on three sides by a low outer defensive barrier or wall, known as a proteichisma, built of mud-brick about 10 metres out from the curtain walls. This did not extend around the south-western flank of the fort since this was protected by the natural escarpment of the site. The proteichisma made it difficult for attackers to get close or to manoeuvre siege engines up to the fortress wall.
Unlike Ayaz qala 1, Qurgashin qala was not an open refuge but was completely occupied with residential buildings. It sat in the centre of a large agricultural area, watered by a large canal with many side channels. The oasis was occupied by many small settlements surrounding the central qala. Today the whole area surrounding the site is covered with fragments of pottery.
A second stage of construction seems to have taken place at the site around the 1st to the 3rd centuries AD, when the barbican was modified and an entrance ramp was added. The fortress continued to be occupied up until the end of the 3rd to 4th centuries AD, after which it was abandoned, as was the surrounding agricultural oasis. We assume that the cause was a natural drying-up of the local water supply
|Google Earth Coordinates|
|Place||Latitude North||Longitude East|
|Qurgashin qala||42º 2.040||61º 19.340|
This page was first published on 3 September 2008. It was last updated on 31 January 2012.
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