Representation of Settlements in Uzbekistan Petroglyphs

Issue #2 • 1640

Kurama mountains. Figures know as - plans (based on G.V. Shatskiy) This article analyses representation of material objects such as settlement layouts, urban formations, dwellings and cult buildings featured in the rock art found in Uzbekistan. Studies of the layouts shown in the petroglyphs enable graphic reproduction of the general look of the material in question.

Settlement drawings from Sarmysh-sai (Navoi Province). Throughout centuries, settlements appeared in places suitable for farming with pasture land in the vicinity. As families grew, new buildings were added to the existing house; alternatively, separate residential blocks with a number of cells, or rooms, were constructed. Factors that were taken into account included distances between houses, to a water source and pasture, as well as convenient location and the extent to which it was protected from elements and external attacks.

Schematic drawings on rock discovered in the mountains of Central Asia show layout compositions of several settlement types, which, to a certain extent, reveal the outline and the kinds of housing layout that existed in ancient time.

A piece of rock art showing a compact dwelling, ellipsoid in plane, which was discovered by J. Kabirov in the valley of Sarmysh-sai, consists of eleven chambers (1, Fig. 19). It is divided into two parts by a narrow courtyard resembling a more renowned aestivation place of Yagnob people from Kuli-Mion in Tajikistan mountains, described in ethnographic scientific literature (2, p. 68).

The presence of the common courtyard proves that the Sarmysh-sai drawing is a layout of a community house in which blood-related families lived and ran their economy jointly. Aestivation places in the mountains appeared next to pastures, and related families, naturally, stayed there for quite a long time – from spring to late autumn. It should be noted that similar tradition still lives in a number of mountain villages in Central Asia.

Sintab. Variant of the reconstructed general view of what could be a settlement (based on A.D. Nazilov)

Settlement from Sintab village (Nurata). A petroglyph found here consists of five sections, and a rectangular outline with twenty cells is shown in the leftmost side of the composition. The centre consists of three separate sections of different configuration. The second section that has circular outline with lines radiating from the centre is divided into four parts by two intersecting axis lines, and the adjacent third section comprises five cells. The fifth horseshoe-shape section is shown in the right-hand side of the drawing. Curved lines running between them divide the structures into separate parts. It is believed that shown here is a layout of a small settlement. Building layouts in the centre are similar to houses dating early and late medieval period.

The landscape of the valley where the drawing was found is complex and rocky. Therefore selected quarters and building plots in Sintab village have tiered composition; thus, what is shown on the left-hand side is perhaps a small settlement with graduated positioning of building groups.

A structure on the right-hand side with thick outer outline appears unusual. One of its corners has a round protrusion that resembles corner towers of a fortress. At the centre there is a circle carved with broken lines. Other lines are erased and unidentifiable. Similarity of this image that has small inner section to the layout of a cult building in Saimali Tash (3, p. 77) and Tagesken mausoleums, the building’s isolated positioning and the presence of another chamber inside, as well as the fact that it is highlighted with think lines suggest that this may be a cult building. Ovals and triangles in the petroglyph indicate places for hey storage or livestock-pens. Identical yards and fences were discovered in Altai. Researchers believe that in Tuva drawings the fences are located next to houses, whereas in the Altai ones they stand alone (4, p. 5). It should also be noted that lines running between the structures ensure their separated-ness.

Therefore, one can conclude that the Sintab settlement petroglyph shows a schematic settlement layout with highlighted layout of a cult building as well as fences indicating farm-yards and dividing residential dwellings into separate smaller quarters.

Kurama mountains. Variant of the reconstructed general view of what could be a residential structure (based on A.D. Nazilov)

Kurama mountain settlement (Tashkent Province). A piece of rock art discovered by G. V. Shatskiy in Kurama mountains consists of three residential structures (5). All of them stand apart from each other a distance that is two thirds of a common size of each block. That is, if a conventional width of one residential structure is taken as 20-30 meters, then a distance between them would be 13-20 meters. The first block consists of five chambers. Given the integrity of the outer outline, it can be assumed that the original plan was to build a house with four chambers. The fifth cell was added later on. The layout structure of the second block is indicated with small open courtyards located between the houses. The third residential unit has several chambers in it. Notably, the second and the third blocks are expanded by way of adding new cells, perhaps, due to the need in having additional living space.

Kurama mountains. Variant of the reconstructed general view of what could be a residential structure (based on A.D. Nazilov)

The layout of the second and the third residential structures resembles the layout composition of the aestivation facilities. Positioned at a distance from one another, these apparently belonged to a one large family of one kin. And probably families living in the first block that consisted of five chambers separated from their relatives but settled nearby.

With time and the appearance of new young couples residential layouts would probably change by way of expanding or separating the dwellings into isolated units. As a result, the entire available vacant area would be occupied by buildings with narrows streets running between them, and residential quarters would be formed. This petroglyph does record a settlement layout at the stage of kinship community disintegration.

Thus, the artists usually drew the types of structures in which they and their kinsmen lived themselves, as well as urban-type dwellings.

1. Кабиров Ж. Сармишсойнинг Коя тошларидаги расмлар. Тошкент, 1976.
2. Кондауров А. Патриархальная домашняя община и общинные дома у ягнобцев// Труды института этнографии Академии наук СССР. Т. III. Вып. 1. М., 1940.
3. Tashbayeva K., Khujanazarov M., Panov V., Samashev Z. Petroglyphs of central Asia.Bishkek, 2001.
4. Окладников А. П., Окладникова Е. А. Древние рисунки Кызыл-Кёля. Новосибирск, 1985.
5. Шацкий Г.В. Рисунки на камне. Ташкент, 1973.

Abdujabbor Nazilov

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