Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Ancient burial site found in Bukhara

An ancient burial site was discovered during the renovation of the mosque Kuji Khonako in Bukhara

12.06.13 19:16
Ancient burial site found in Bukhara
Nine unidentified burial tombstones have been found during the renovation of the 17th Century mosque Kuji Khonako in Bukhara.

Construction workers who were clearing the mosque’s clay courtyard discovered the tombstones made out of kiln-fired bricks under a thin layer of dirt. Most of the tombstones have a semi-cylindrical shape – typical for Bukhara’s architecture.

The workers were able to fully uncover the burial site by removing about 1.8 meters of dirt.

The tombstones seem to had been erected at different times – as some are made out of local square bricks called obi, and others are from “Nikolaevskiy” bricks – bricks that were made in pre-revolutionary Russia and are known in the area for their durability.

There is no information about who is buried here or when the burials occurred. There is also no information as to why the site was covered with dirt.
Local residents assume this is a burial site for clergy

“When I was little, my father forbade me to pass by this site. He told me that it was a holy place and always made me go around it. One time I tried to walk through and he pulled my ear really painfully as punishment,” remembers a local resident.

According to him, in the past, people traveling on a horse or donkey would always dismount their animals and pass the mosque and the courtyard on foot.

It’s likely that clergy are buried at this site.

There are five other tombstones in the mosque’s courtyard that are near the newly discovered nine. They were recently restored – if one can call that “restoration” – as they were simply lined by modern bricks.

It is probably reasonable to surmise, that someone wishing to protect the burial site buried it during the first few years of the Soviet rule, when religious persecutions started in Bukhara.

Neither the construction workers nor the site’s foreman know whether anyone from the historic sites preservation office has visited the site.

One can only hope that this small cemetery will be restored according to proper restoration practices and will not follow the fate of Khazrati Imom Cemetery in Tashkent, which after restoration looks more like a modern replica than an authentic ancient burial site.

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