«We need to look into the past in order to understand the present and foresee the future»

Akyrtas - mysterious structure on the Silk Road

Its ruin traces can be seen now near the Akchulak railway station forty kilometres east of Dzhambul.

Its ruin traces can be seen now near the Akchulak railway station forty kilometres east of Dzhambul. Many scholars studying the Akyrtas ruins were lost in conjectures when defining the purpose of that gigantic structure which is a rectangular building with the perimeter of the external outline of 185 and 205 metres. The main entrance which was on the north side led to a little courtyard with two oval house reservoirs around which there are frameworks reserved of twenty eight powerful columns with the base area of five square meters each. Adjacent to the colonnade there were about one hundred rooms of different size with an intricate passage system. The thickness of exterior walls reached five meters, they were built of blocks of dark-red sandstone a meter and a half long, eighty centimeters wide and ninety centimeters high. The upper part of blocks had trough-like recesses and the lower one — oval bulges. When superimposed the bulges and recesses were tightly fastened making the structure very strong. This method of matching construction parts in architecture of the past was not found in any other place and therefore it is a unique phenomenon in architecture of the 5th-7th centuries. Akyrtas surprises with the grandiose engineering project and the boldness of its realization. Even at present it is no easy engineering problem how to transport horizontally or vertically and join large- scale blocks of several tons. In order to venture to do that the builders of the ancient times had to have, besides boldness, skillfulness and experience, a system of adequate mechanisms for transporting heavy weights. By the way, the Akyrtas blocks are much larger than those of the Egyptian pyramids, the area of the structure is about four hectares, it exceeds the area of the largest tomb of Egyptian wonders, namely, that of Pharaoh Cheops.

The fact that there were special mechanisms for transporting heavy weights is indicative of a high level of engineering knowledge of unknown builders of Akyrtas — Crying stone.

Man’s gigantic strengh and power is impressed in stone on the ground of Akyrtas. Quite another character is embodied in the Aisha-Bibi mausoleum erected at the caravan path seven farsahs to the south of Akyrtas. It is a monument to love and sorrow. The legend says: Aisha-Bibi, the daughter of a poet waited for her fiance coming back with victory from the battle field. On receiving a message that the troop was quite near the girl saddled a fast horse and gallopped to meet him. The impatience was so great that her heart failed her and she closed her eyes in the arms of her beloved.

The fiance’s sorrow was inconsolable. . .

And then an unknown architect made up his mind to tell the descendants about the great love. Eight hundred years have passed over the tomb of Aisha- Bibi. Time has not spared the stones. But even what is left — one wall with a lancet arc of the entrance and two half-ruined columns amaze with beauty and grace. The lightness of forms and the refinement of style can be compared but with a jewelry article. The mausoleum is faced with ceramic tiles and terra-cotta carving. What a gorgeousness of forms! What a freak of man’s imagination! One can see tiles of various forms: a square, a cross, a polygon. They are decorated with stars, rosettes and many other patterns carved on them.

Rakip Nasyrov, “Along the Great Silk Road”, published by “Kramds—reklama”, 1991.