Another Day, Another Ancient City

Penjikent Travel Blog

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A suburb of the old city

According to Ancient Panjekent, a photocopied booklet I had purchased at the Rudaki Museum, excavations began in 1946 and have since revealed layers of civilizations at the site dating back as far as the 5th century and lasting until it was vanquished by Arab invaders in the 8th century, and much of it remaining partially intact. Located on a cliff overlooking modern day Penjikent, the Zeravshan River and the likewise named mountains, the old city is impressively preserved for being made mostly of mud. Visible are the nearby necropolis and a “suburb” of sorts, as well as the citadel and old city itself. Shards of old pottery litter the trails around the site still.

 

I was successful in taking the marshrutka and then walking to the site, which was surely grand compared to the other ruins I’d seen thus far.

Ancient Panjakent
At the foot of the main entrance to the walled old city sits a tiny museum with a caretaker who introduced himself as an archeologist and for 5 somoni granted me entrance to the one-room museum and a “tour” in Russian before setting me free to roam about the fortified town. Several building frames were definitely intact, although judging from some of the adobe village houses I’d seen, I’d say not a lot has changed in architectural styles here since the 8th century.

 

After spending about an hour losing myself in the maze of walls and paths around the shahristan (old city), I  saw a road leading to the new part of town and followed it all the way to the bazaar. Today the market was definitely open and jam-packed with people. I changed some money, successfully avoiding getting ripped off and purchased a small tube of toothpaste for about 50 cents before heading off to check emails.

The modern city from the ruins above
A forced lunch break at the internet café led me to the Dusti Restaurant across the street, where I ate a bowl of soup with a completely unchewable hunk of beef and drank oversweetened coffee.

 

Rinat called to tell me he was on his way into town and wondered if I had time to meet up, so we met and we sat in the park for awhile talking about teenage life in Penjikent before it was time for him to head off to class again at the Millennium school where he takes English classes.

 

Walking back to the guesthouse in the dark after more Internet catching up, I took a digger into the sidewalk despite the use of a flashlight. I may have been distracted by the blaring screen and fountains illuminated in red, green and yellow in front of the main government building.

Another successful day!
President Rahmon’s pearly whites could be seen even in the dark from the poster covering at least four window panes.

 

When I got back to the guesthouse, one brother had been replaced by another of Niyozkul’s, and after dinner, he insisted on escorting me to the Solpybeer bar that I’d been excited about trying since I arrived. Unfortunately, though, they were out of beer, so we returned empty-stomached but Niyozkul had pity and split a Chinese beer with me called Wusu, which turned out to be fine even though it tasted like a light sparkling cider. And with that I went to sleep, my space heater on and blankets up to my chin.

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A suburb of the old city
A suburb of the old city
Ancient Panjakent
Ancient Panjakent
The modern city from the ruins abo…
The modern city from the ruins ab…
Another successful day!
Another successful day!
Penjikent
photo by: Biedjee