On the outskirts of Eltamgali village, 80 km southeast of Tashkent, are the archaeological ruins of Kanka, the earliest incarnation of Tashkent. Kanka was the first capital of Chach state, a small estate of Kanguy. The state featured more than 50 urban settlements. The medieval authors wrote with a charm that neither Movarounnahr, nor Khorasan had such a wealth of well-planned towns and blooming gardens as the Chach area, and many travelers called it “the country of a thousand castles”. Today Kanka site looks like a huge tract of hilly land. Climbing to the top of the site it is possible to see the footprint of both towers and temples. Archaeologists working on the site are more than happy to show you ceramics, coins and even bones they have unearthed in the most recent phase of digs.

Kanka Ruins

Consisting of three defensive series the fortress Kanka was build in very unique principle for those times. Reaching the foot of the citadel there nestles the urban territory – Shakhristan, surrounded by fortified outer city wall and suburbs- rabat lying beyond. However, unlike many well-known sites, Kanka highlights three fortified walls with moats, thus having three Shakhristans. Originally, the total area of Kanka, including the suburbs, was not less than 400 hectares. But already at the beginning of the last century, the residential area, gardens and fields of nearby Korik village occupied the whole territory of rabat and practically approached the fortified wall of so-called Shakhristan III which in its layout about a perfect square with the length of its side exceeding 5 km.

Through the remained gate on the southern side of the outer wall, you can enter the territory of this former town. Walking along the hollows formed by the hills, under which the outlines of streets and once densely built-up urban areas become visible, the path reaches the second row of the massive fortified wall with traces of huge watchtowers. Forming a clear rectangle the wall encloses an area of about 50 hectares. Inside this second Shakhristan (Shakhristan II) there rises the third, even heavier line of giant fortified walls. Being surrounded by a deep canal of 40 meters wide they seem secure. In its narrow passage, the central part of the wall features an entrance overlooked by a double row of towers. On the side of the inner town – the third Shakhristan- there is a ramp spiraling down towards the moat. Most likely the ramp led to a lifting bridge. The northern part of this most fortified part of the town accommodated a citadel occupying 6.5 hectares. At its highest point, there was a castle with four towers. From this spot there opens up the panorama of the whole urban settlement with its complex system of fortified walls, residential areas, streets and squares. 

The archeological excavations of the area near to citadel north-western wall, which was conducted in the second half of the last century, revealed cultural layers about 20 meters deep. This pit can be observed to the present day. The walls were made of thick pakhsa (rammed earth) blocks alternating with adobe and baked brick settings, here and there one can see the traces of fire and earthquakes – the evidence of urban decay periods, as well as remedial fillings which mark the periods of the town’s prosperity. The lowest cultural layer revealed a solid platform made of square bricks and projecting beyond the fortified wall, and numerous artifacts dating to the 4th-2nd centuries BCE. The research of these findings showed that the first constructions on the Kanka site appeared not later than in the 3rd century BCE and the most intensive periods in the life of the settlement date back to the beginning of our era, later the urban life recovered in the 6th-8th centuries and after some lull, from the 10th century through late 12th century it was the biggest center of crafts and trade.

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