Monday, December 2, 2013

Paratethys Sea & The Oxus River in Central Asia


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Central Asia's Lost Oxus River Civilization…."News of this lost civilization began leaking out in the 1970s, when archaeologists came to dig in the southern reaches of the Soviet Union and in Afghanistan. Their findings, which were published only in obscure Russian-language journals, described a culture with the tongue-twisting name Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex. Bactria is the old Greek name for northern Afghanistan and the northeast corner of Iran, while Margiana is further north, in what is today Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Through the region runs the Amu Dar'ya River, which was known in Greek history as the Oxus River. Western scholars subsequently used that landmark to dub the newly found culture the Oxus civilization."….

"The Paratethys ocean, Paratethys sea or just Paratethys was a large shallow sea that stretched from the region north of the Alps over Central Europe to the Aral Sea in Central Asia. The sea was formed during the Oxfordian epoch as an extension of the rift that formed the Central Atlantic Ocean and was isolated during the Oligocene epoch . It was separated from the Tethys Ocean to the south by the formation of the Alps, Carpathians, Dinarides, Taurus and Elburz mountains. During its long existence the Paratethys was at times reconnected with the Tethys or its successors, the Mediterranean Sea or Indian Ocean. From the Pliocene epoch onward (after 5 million years ago), the Paratethys became progressively shallower. Today's Black Sea, Caspian Sea, and Aral Sea are remnants of the Paratethys Sea."….

"The earliest human remains around the Caspian sea are from Dmanisi (an archaeological site in Soviet Georgia) dating back to around 1.8 Ma (Million Years Ago) and yielded a number of skeletal remains of Homo erectus or Homo ergaster. More later evidence for human occupation of the region come from a number of caves in Georgia and Azerbaijan such as Kudaro and Azykh Caves. There is evidence for Lower Palaeolithic human occupation at south of Caspian from western Alburz. These are Ganj Par and Darband Cave sites. Neanderthal remains also have been discovered at a cave site in Georgia. Discoveries in the Huto cave and the adjacent Kamarband cave, near the town of Behshahr, Mazandaran south of the Caspian in Iran, suggest human habitation of the area as early as 11,000 years ago…..

"The entire Pleistocene Epoch, from 1.8 Ma (Million Years Ago) to 10,000 years ago is characterized by climatic oscillations and cycles of glaciation and melting."

"The Aral Sea (Kazakh: Арал Теңізі Aral Teñizi; Uzbek: Orol Dengizi; Russian: Аральскοе Мοре Aral'skoye More; Tajik: Баҳри Арал Bahri Aral; Persian: دریای خوارزم‎ Daryâ-ye Khârazm) was a lake lying between Kazakhstan (Aktobe and Kyzylorda provinces) in the north and Karakalpakstan, an autonomous region of Uzbekistan, in the south. Formerly one of the four largest lakes in the world with an area of 68,000 square kilometres (26,300 sq mi), the Aral Sea has been steadily shrinking since the 1960s after the rivers that fed it were diverted by Soviet irrigation projects. The shrinking of the Aral Sea has been called "one of the planet's worst environmental disasters."…..

"The Aral Sea (the Aral is actually a saline lake).... formed about 5.5 million years ago due to a fall in sea level and the uplift of the Elburz and Caucasus Mountains[citation needed]. It is generally believed that the Amu Darya did not flow into the shallow depression that now forms the Aral Sea until the beginning of the Holocene, and it is known that the Amu Darya flowed into the Caspian via the Uzboy channel until the Holocene. The Syr Darya formed a large lake in the Kyzyl Kum during the Pliocene known as the Mynbulak depression."…..

"In the past, the Amu Darya (Oxus) of Central Asia in the east often changed course to empty into the Caspian through a now-desiccated riverbed called the Uzboy River, as did the Syr Darya farther north. ….

" It should be borne in mind that some of the land to the east of the Caspian Sea is actually some 28 metres below Mean Sea Level. Between it and the Aral the land rises gradually as a desert plain but in small pockets to as much as 340 metres, except small hilly areas, although there is the Nebit Dag Mountain at 1880m. There are, however, scores of depressions below MSL and ancient river beds, the UZBOY channel being one such….The major rivers are however significant in forming the landscape of the Sea of Aral…..The first and greatest is the Amu Darya, known to the Greeks as the OXUS, and to the Arabs as the Jaihun. It rises in Bactria and forms the border between Margiana and Sogdiana before passing into Chorasmii. It is also the eastern boundary of the Karakorum Desert. Originally it is thought to have flowed north towards the Aral with a tributary turning west through Sary Kamysh Lake towards the Caspian Sea…..This western arm was the UZBOY which is now a dry river channel, but flowed some 750Km from the branch in the Amu Darya river. A riverine civilisation existed along the banks from at least the 5th century BCE until the 16th century CE, when the water which had fed the Uzboy abruptly stopped flowing out of the main course of the Amu Darya. The Uzboy dried up3!…"….

"Lucius Flavius Arrianus5, “The Campaigns of Alexander”, states in Book3;30;….that the source of the Oxus is in the Indian Caucasus; it is greater than any other Arian river reached by Alexander’s army, except the rivers of India, which are the greatest in the world. It empties itself into the Caspian Sea in Hyrcania. Alexander marched for Marakanda the Royal city of Sogdiana moving thence to the Tanais. Like the Oxus, this river, too (according to Aristobulus the natives call it the Orexartes) rises in the Indian Caucasus and flows into the Caspian Sea; it can hardly be the Tanais which the historian Herodotus describes as the 8th of the Scythian rivers having its source in the great lake flowing into a greater, called Maeotis: this other Tanais is regarded by some as the boundary between Asia and Europe, on the supposition that from this corner of the Black sea, Lake Maeotis and the river flowing into it actually divide Asia from Europe in the same way as the Straits between Gadeira and the nomad Libyans divide Libya from Europe and in the same way, presumably as Libya is divided from the rest of Asia by the Nile…..It was his (Alexander’s) intention to found a city on the Tanais (Jaxartes) and name it after himself”. (Alexander the furthest, modern Chojend)."….

UzBoy River…."Arab historians of the Middle Ages write that the Uzboy was a water course used by merchants who navigated it for centuries and had to overcome its several rapids. Its route to the Caspian Sea departed from the Sary Kamysh lake, that being its source, although the lake is fed by the Oxus, and flowed south to the town of Kurstysh, before the river turned west to the Caspian Sea and its outlet. The Uzboy thus carried the waters of the Oxus to the Caspian Sea, but only a small percentage of the total flow, because of its physical bed constraints….Thus it is hypothesized that a large amount of the Oxus river flow actually dissipated itself in the Karakorum desert area south of the Aral. It appears reasonable to consider that the Oxus (Amu Darya) could not carry more than 20-30 Km3 per year to the Sary Kamysh Lake, when the total flow of the Oxus towards the Aral was 60-70 Km3 per year. Thus it is considered only a small amount of the Oxus actually reached the southern Aral confines……..The second river is the Syr Darya, and it is a westerly flowing river as it approaches the Aral. The Syr Darya was known to the Greeks as the JAXARTES and to the Arabs as the Sayhun or Sihun. Rather late for our researches, but pertinent are the comments of Babur Sultan6, who wrote in 1530, “The Sayhun- Jaxartes- does not flow in any sea, but engulfs itself in sands very far downstream of the city of Turkistan”….The region between the Amu Darya or Oxus and the Syr Darya or Jaxartes has been known in history as Massagetae and later as Transoxiana. The Arabs called the region north of the Amu Darya, Mawaran-nahr, meaning literally, “The land beyond the river”.

The Rivers of the Vedas…."The narratives of the Indian Veda’s provide a tantalising glimpse of geographical information. It is possible that the core region of Vedic culture was the landlocked area between the Oxus and Jaxartes river systems and up to the Hindu/Sindhu River. The g.Veda X 75.5 refers to some 55 rivers in the area. This archaic geography allows that the Hapta-Hindu or Sapta-Sindhu in Sanskrit might include the rivers Oxus and Jaxartes, and that the location of the Aral Sea and Lake Labnor might not then have been the same as now."….


John Hopkins.....Northern New Mexico….December 2013


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