Country Margush

In 522 BC with the accession to the throne of Darius I the state of the Achaemenids embraced the uprisings. Particularly fierce were the clashes in the country of Margush. The army of the satrap of Bactria Dadarshish sent to suppress the uprising defeated the Margushans, who lost 55,243 people killed and 6972 prisoners. But what is this country Margush? Where was it? However, there was one "clue": in the extreme east of Turkmenistan flows the Murgab River. Margush-Murgab... Is there anything more behind this than a mere similarity of names?

But what is this country Margush? Where was it?

As early as the beginning of the 20th century, the American expedition attempted to find the country of Margush. Examining the desert areas of eastern Turkmenistan, American scientists discovered the huge fort of Gyaur-kala ("City of the infidels"), located in the Merv Oasis. But then the Americans managed to conduct small-scale excavations, and the solution of the mystery of the country of Margush was postponed for several decades.

In 1972 and subsequent excavation seasons, in the sands to the north of Bairam-Ali archaeologists discovered more than 20 ancient settlements and fortresses, including four large "metropolitan" settlements, representing the centers of the disappeared oases, now covered with sands of Karakum.

The earliest traces of urban civilization found in the area of the ancient delta of the Murgab and in the Merv Oasis date back to the 9th-6th centuries BC. Excavations showed that the country of Margush had a developed culture, as evidenced by finds of ceramic and metal cloisonne seals, terracotta figurines, amulets and vessels, including ritual purposes.

Discoveries in the ancient delta of Murghab in the 1970s. Proved that the cultures of Bactria and Margush were close, if not identical, three and a half millennia ago. They were created by related tribes who came here in the middle of the 2nd millennium BC.

Studies of the Merv Oasis allowed archaeologists literally for years to "read" the history of the ancient country of Margush. The giant hills of clay clay, hanging on the site of ancient cities, still amaze.

On the hill of Erk-Kala in the 6-4 centuries BC, during the reign of the Persian kings, there was a fortified city occupying an area of 12 hectares. It was surrounded by 6.5 m at the base of the fortress wall. Excavations discovered on Erk-Kala layers related to the times of King Darius and Alexander of Macedon. The walls of this fortress, which later turned into a stronghold of the sprawling city, even being half ruined, sometimes reach a height of 3-4 m. When the city grew, its territory was surrounded by a new wall with massive square towers. This wall, made of raw bricks and today resembling a felling shaft, covered an area of almost 4 square meters km.

During his long history, Margush experienced several periods of prosperity, which is explained by the richness of the fertile lands of the oasis and the favorable geographical position at the crossroads of the most important routes between East and West. Here, not only trade routes crossed, but also cultures.

From the middle of the 3rd century BC the country Margush remained independent, and in the 2nd century BC. Became part of Parthia. It served as a place of reference to the settlement of Roman legionaries captured by the Parthians during the endless wars with Rome.

In the first centuries of our era, the culture of the country Margush quite distinctly differed from the culture of Parthia, still gravitating toward Bactria. The dominant religion here was Zoroastrianism.

At the turn of the 1-2 centuries Margush separated from Parthia. Here they ruled their own kings, representatives of the younger branch of the Arshakid dynasty. Monuments of this time are numerous coins with inscriptions in Greek and Parthian.

At the same time, Buddhism and Indian culture began to penetrate the country of Margush. In the southeastern part of the ancient settlement of Gyaur-Kala, archaeologists discovered remains of a large Buddhist sanctuary, centered on a large stupa, in front of which towered a huge, 5-meter-tall figure of Buddha, fashioned from clay.

Everything begins to change at the turn of the 7th-8th centuries. With the arrival of Arab conquerors. In the 9th century, Margush falls under the power of the Bukhara Samanid dynasty, and already in 1040 the Seljukids, natives of the Turkic nomadic milieu, reign in Khorasan. The capital of this vast country was Merv.

Lying on the route of the Great Silk Road, Merv led an extensive trade. From here caravans went through the regions of Khorezm and Sogd to the east - to China and to the south, through Nishapur and Herat - to India. The city was famous for the art of its numerous artisans, weavers, potters and was widely known as a center of culture and science. In Merv, where the astronomical observatory was located in the Middle Ages, the famous poet and scholar Omar Khayyam lived and worked.

In 1221 the younger son of Genghis Khan, the prince of Tuli, with eighty thousand horsemen besieged a half-million-strong city, surrounded by powerful fortifications. Merv surrendered almost without a fight. For forty days there was a massacre. After the defeat of the city, only four remained alive.