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Nestorian monastery ruins
  • Nestorian monastery ruins
  • Nestorian monastery ruins
  • Nestorian monastery ruins
  • Nestorian monastery ruins
  • Nestorian monastery ruins
  • Nestorian monastery ruins
  • Nestorian monastery ruins
  • Nestorian monastery ruins
  • Nestorian monastery ruins
  • Nestorian monastery ruins
  • Nestorian monastery ruins
  • Nestorian monastery ruins
  • Nestorian monastery ruins
  • Nestorian monastery ruins
  • Nestorian monastery ruins
  • Nestorian monastery ruins
  • Nestorian monastery ruins
  • Nestorian monastery ruins
  • Nestorian monastery ruins
  • Nestorian monastery ruins
  • Nestorian monastery ruins
  • Nestorian monastery ruins
  • Nestorian monastery ruins
  • Nestorian monastery ruins
  • Nestorian monastery ruins
  • Nestorian monastery ruins
  • Nestorian monastery ruins
  • Nestorian monastery ruins
  • Apart from the other landmarks Urgut is also known for the ruins of an ancient Nestorian temple. In fact, the first mention of Urgut in written sources is related to the location of a monastery of the Church of the East: “On al-Šāwḏār [a mountainous area southeast of Samarqand] a group of Christians have a monastery where they gather and have their cells. I found there many Iraqi Christians who migrated to the place because of its suitability, solitary location, and healthiness. It has inalienable properties (woqūf), and many of the Christians retire to it; this place towers over the major part of Sogd and is known as Warkūdah” (Ebn Hawqal, p. 372; tr., II, p. 478; Eṣṭaḵ-ri, p. 321; both with variant spellings in different MSS). Due to the corrupt spelling of the place-name in the primary sources, the location of the monastery has long been a mystery, despite a number of attempts to find it. The correct reading was suggested in 1996 by Ukrainian archeologist Savchenko, 1996),

    Studying the manuscripts of Ebn Hawqal, A. Savchenko concluded that in the translations of his " Book of Roads and Kingdoms  " - a graphic error in the word Wazkrd (Wzkrd) was made, the correct spelling of which is Wrkwd and that the direct Arabic pronunciation of the word "Urgut". Such errors concerning unknown geographical names could be made by scribes. Arabic graphics abound with dialectical signs - dots and commas separating letters, and it is only necessary to add or forget one such sign, as the word immediately takes on a different meaning and pronunciation.

    In 1996, they started archeological expedition, but only in 1997 in the place of Sufien (Hermit), located above Chor-Chinor, the temple was finally found. Searching for the ruins of the monastery, based on the ancient description is not an easy task. One have to carefully study the topography, ask the local population about the names and objects found in the past. In general, to find in this mountainous inhabited place an ancient temple was is very difficult. But nevertheless, archaeologists were lucky and this architectural complex was found by strike of luck. In the place called Suleiman-tepe, on the watershed between Urgutsay and Kumloksay, the farmer’s tractor accidentally touched the edge of the hill, exposing the laying of bricks. The archeologists working under the direction of A.Savchenko who arrived there were pleasantly surprised - this was what they were looking for. The name Suleimantepa came from a resident of this place - Suleiman, who built a house here after the Second World War. In memory of Suleiman, local residents called the nearby hill "Sulaimantepa". Excavations continued in 1999, during which several rooms were found. According to the radiocarbon analysis of ceramics, the time of the foundation of the monastery is the middle of the IX century. Later, some items related to the VII century were also found.

    Investigations have brought to light a selection of archeological finds, among which are wearable crosses of iron, bronze and coal shale, ceramic wares with Christian motifs, and fragments of stucco decoration. Some items are evidence of an organized liturgy (a bronze censer found in 1916, of Syrian origin: Zalesskaya; manufactured in situ: Dresvyanskaya).

    Finding the place on your own is quite tricky. You will need to head towards Chor Chinor along the Urgutsay (small mountainous river) and the place would be somewhere about two kilometers from Chor-Chinar. At one of the mahallas you will need to take a turn and go on foot on the rough terrain - along the path between the hilly vegetable gardens. In one of these plots, in the midst of vegetable gardens, vacant lots and rare houses is the so-called Suleimantepe hill.

    In those remote times, when this Christian monastery existed, the land of Urgut was famous for its religious tolerance and pluralism. Followers of various religious views lived together peacefully here. Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Islam, Christianity - all these religions were to some extent present in the life of Sogdians. It has been suggested that the village of Aspandiza (mod. Ispanza), east of Urgut, takes its name from a sanctuary of the pre-Islamic female deity Aspan, who possibly may have been regarded as the patroness of the area. More tangible traces of the past can be seen at the site of Jar Tepe northeast of Urgut, an early medieval Zoroastrian temple, where a number of murals were found during archeological excavations.  Somewhere nearby there should be a Buddhist temple in the Urgut district, mentioned in the literature.

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