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Khwarezm is an oasis in Central Asia, located in the lowlands of Amu-Darya (Oxus) on lands of its ancient and modern deltas on the territory of modern Uzbekistan and partially Turkmenistan. Khwarezm is one the most ancient hotbeds of high agricultural culture. Khwarezm was famous from great antiquity (ancient Persian Khuvarazmish, in Avesta, the sacred book of the Zoroastrian religion - Khwairezm, and Arabic - Khwarizm). The name Khwarezm is translated (from Iranian "khur" - sun, and ending "zm" - land) as the land of the sun, lowland, fertile land, land of the people Khwari. Sometimes, from the city Khiva, it was called the Khiva oasis.
click_to_enlargeAncient Khwarezm cultural community had formed in 7th-6th centuries B.C. on the basis of the local saco-massagetian people under strong interaction of southern agricultural civilizations. In the last third of the 6th century B.C. Khwarezm was conquered by the Persians and drawn into the system of cultural ties of the Achaemenid Empire. At the end of the 5th or in the begging of the 4th century B.C. it was apportioned into a separate satrapy, but soon, as could be judged from the ancient sources, it seized to be under the control of the Achaemenids. Khwarezm’s de-facto independence to a large degree had defined its further cultural history. Not being part of the Hellenistic empire Khwarezm had become a distinctive preserve of ancient Eastern traditions of Central Asia. In the 2d century B.C. Khwarezm had suffered a military rout. On most monuments from that time signs of powerful fires were detected. Undoubtedly, these are the signs of stormy events related to the movement of the steppe tribes, which destroyed Graeco-Bactria and put Parthia to the edge of demise. After the rout the Khwarezm culture had retained a part of its traditions, but it got noticeably barbarized and dimmed. However at the same time in the 2d century B.C. the Khwarezm coin production had begun, first, though, imitative, but still attesting to the later socioeconomic community. The first Kwarezm coins were large silver imitations of tetradrachms of Eukratides, distinguished from its prototype by the greater distortion of inscriptions and by the presence of a distinctive mark – tamgha on its reverse. Later on the obverse the likeness of Eukratides is replaced by a portrait of a local ruler, and along with a distorted Greek legend a legend in the Khwarezm language is put down, conveying the name and title of the ruler. On the reverse of the coins an image of a rider starts to appear. Some researchers regard that this is the god-rider Siyavush, who, according to Biruni, was the founder of the dynasty of the Khwarezm kings, others see in him an image of a deified king. An image of a king-rider is invariable, as is the Khwarezm tamgha, are present on all silver coins of this region for the period of seven centuries, up until the end of the Khwarezm coinage in the middle of the 7th century A.D. Only the style and some details had been modified. This unique phenomenon in the numismatics of Central Asia gives evidence to stable traditions and continuity of the Khwarezm kings, who came from the same dynasty. 4th-8th centuries were a difficult period in Khwarezmian history. This was the time of development of feudal relationships and the formation of the early medieval culture, which, based on the name of the ruling dynasty, the name of Afrigids. The political history of Khwarezm can only be reconstructed fragmentally: written sources give good coverage only to the events of the campaigns of conquest of the beginning of the 8th century of the Arab general Quteiba b.Muslim. Not ruled out though, that between the 3d and 7th centuries, at the time when an interruption is detected in the Khwarezm coinage, the country had been subjected to the Sassanian invasion, and in the 6th-7th centuries it had been a part of the Turkic Empire. The Arab invasion in the 8th century was destructive to the Khwarezm culture: the country was plundered, scientists were expelled, their works burned. However already at the end of the 8th century a new resurgence is detected, which leads to the flourishing of economy and culture in the 9th-10th centuries.


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