Managing and conserving large oases in southwest Kazakhstan

Enrico Fodde, Renato Sala, Jeanmarc Deom

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The landscape of the middle course of the Syrdarya is scattered with numerous
oases that prospered between the fi rst and the eighteenth centuries ad.
Some of them, like those of the Turkestan oasis (Yasi-Turkestan and Sauran)
are characterized by complex and autochthonous water supply systems that
relied on the use of groundwater and the digging of karez (wells). Others,
like the ones of Otrar on the Arys delta, and Baltakol and Chiili on the
Syrdarya branches, are based on the implementation of large irrigation
canals fed by fl ood and active waters. Today most of the ancient landscape
has been reduced to a semi-desert, the medieval towns are in ruins, and the
ancient irrigation systems are out of use.
The aim of this paper is to underline the wide issues related to the management
of such large sites, and to report about the smaller-scale conservation
activities carried out in that perspective as part of the UNESCO/Japan
Trust Fund project for the Preservation and Restoration of the Ancient City
of Otrar (2001–04). Detailed description is given on the conservation of
a fi red brick mosque of the fourteenth to fi fteenth century ad and on the
problematic interventions carried out before perestroika.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-168
Number of pages17
JournalConservation and Management of Archaeological Sites
Issue number2
Early online date23 Dec 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Bibliographical note

Invited paper


  • irrigation, urban, medieval, fi red brick, conservation, Kazakhstan


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