Gurtly Depe – Hill of the History

A mosque and a minaret built up from dried bricks is dated to the 11th century. The first great Central Asian city where Muslims appeared was Merv, now within the borders of Turkmenistan. The minaret erected on the Kurtly Depe hill, approximately 25 km north of Sultan Kala. It is known that the ruins of this building were still standing in 1937. This is because the last photograph comes from this year and the general plan of the minaret made by V. Pilavski. According to him, the minaret stood in the left corner of Juma mosque. The foundation and walls of the mosque were built of dried brick, while the facade, mihrab and gaps were made of burnt brick.

G.A. Pougatcheff has identified Kurtly Depe with the city Bashan, about which the 12th-century Arab historian As-Samani writes. Based his account of Pugachenkov relates the ruins of Kurtly Depe to the cathedral mosque, the Mosque of Purity. Probably the temple with the minaret already existed in the 10th century. Admittedly, one should not suggest in the dating of 9th-13th century Central Asian buildings, the dimensions of bricks, since there was then no generally accepted standard defining their dimensions, however these the oldest Muslim mosques were characterized by unusually large, square and rectangular bricks. Moreover, to build a mosque in Kurtly Depe used large bricks measuring 32 cm x cm 32 x 8 cm.

In the 11th century, both buildings were renovated, adding a facade made of fired bricks with less the upper dimensions: 24 cm x 24 cm x 5 cm for the mosque and 30 cm x 30 cm x 6.5 cm for minaret. The diameter of the minaret, however, has not changed and was 6 m. In 1937 a building with a cylindrical core, it rose to a height of 10 m. It can be assumed that it was half the original height. The photo of V. Pilavski also shows fragments decorations in the lower, preserved part of the minaret. It was one belt with concentra-arranged squares. This type of ornament in architectural ornamentation Central Asia, however, is unheard of. Below the frieze, there are also visible openings beams that supported the structure of fresh, unfired bricks. Unfortunately, our news about the minaret ends with the above characteristics at Kurtly Depe. No more is known about the remaining mosque and minaret from the 10th century.

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Small Group
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8 days
Small Group
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Half board
More details