ChanganTianshan Corridor: Talgar

27 January 2022

Talgar (8th14th centuries) was a prominent trading center: objects found here originated in China, India, Iran, and Japan. The city is a prime example of how settlements developed in agriculture-based economies during this time.

Talgar was known as Talhiz in the Middle Ages. It was first mentioned in Hudud al-Alam, a Persian geographical treatise written in 982 AD. The artifacts discovered during excavations include many imported items such as Chinese ivory chopsticks, ivory chess pieces, and copper and bronze items from Iranian-Caucasian and Central Asian cities, dating from the 11th12th centuries. Blacksmithing was well developed in Talhiz, so it is probable that the city traded metal products with the Jurchen people of Manchuria.

Contemporary sources report that this city of traders and craftspeople impressed with its military and defensive capacity. Talhiz was home to various faiths, including Nestorianism, Buddhism, and Islam. Artifacts found here include statues of a seated Buddha, earthenware and bronze items with Quranic inscriptions, ceramic lamps with Nestorian crosses, and terracotta animal figures. Archaeologists have discovered that both sedentary and nomadic peoples lived side-by-side in the city.

Site Layout and Archaeological Findings
The site consists of a fortified inner city (shakhristan) and suburb (rabad) extending over 20 hectares.

The fortified central section (1) is situated on a hill and takes the shape of a rectangle aligned to the cardinal directions. It was once surrounded by a rampart and a moat. The corners and walls were fortified with towers. Entrances were located at the centerpoint of each wall. The streets that connected them divided the city into four approximately equal parts.

The city had several multi-room houses (2) with stone foundations and upper walls made of Tien Shan spruce. Yards enclosed by stone or clay fences contained cattle pens. The layout of the dwellings resembles those of Wusun houses from the last century BC, and were heated by tandoor ovens. Storage rooms contained grain and food.

Talgar also had streets, cobblestone pavements, running water, and sewerage.

In 2014, the Talgar site was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List as a component of the Silk Roads: the Routes Network of ChanganTianshan Corridor, which was nominated jointly by China, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.

The corridor is a 5,000-km section of the Silk Roads that took shape between the second century BC and first century AD, remaining in use until the 16th century. It linked multiple civilizations and facilitated far-reaching exchanges of activities in trade, religious beliefs, scientific knowledge, technological innovation, cultural practices, and the arts.

This material was prepared within the framework of the project "Silk Roads Heritage Corridors in Afghanistan, Central Asia and Iran - International Dimension of the European Year of Cultural Heritage", implemented by UNESCO with financial support from the European Union

The content is the sole responsibility of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union

silk roads corridors + culture + tourism + sustainable tourism + tourguides + world heritage sites + central asia

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