Ancient Cities and Cultures
Hugging the Past
The city of Balasugun was once an important stop on the ancient Silk Road. When Islam became the dominant religion in the 10th century, the city built a great mosque. This tower, which is all that remains of this city, was once a minaret that rose to a height of 150 feet. Minarets in Central Aisa are much wider than those found in the Middle East, and are a distinctive contribution to architecture by these Turkic peoples. A 12th Century earthquake destoyed the city, as well as the top 50 feet of the tower. The city never recovered and eventually was abandoned, with this tower standing for centuries as a reminder of a lost civilization. By the 1920, the base was so damaged that the tower faced imminent collapse. Two soviet 'repairs' efforts shored up the base, and refinished the exterior as you see it today.
The Language of Yeshua
The Nestorians were (actually "are," as there remain a few adherents) a Christian sect that came largely from what is now Syria. Missionaries planted churches eastward beginning in the 4th century. The language they used was Aramaic (sometimes called 'Syrian'). This inscription shows the distinctive Hebrew letters used in Aramaic. There remain a few villages in Syria that still speak this ancient language, proudly clinging to the language of the Man from Galilee.
Deep in the remains of earthen cities is evidence of what I believe remains the spirit of Kyrgyzstan - a spirit of tolerance. Long forgotten civilizations here found stregnth in diversity. Cities appeared to have large numbers of Nestorian Christians, Buddists, and Muslims living together. Such tolerance remains vibrant amoungst contemporary Kyrgyz.
These cities were constructed from unbaked clay bricks. As traders found new routes along the Silk Road, the cities were abandoned. Today, they remain as clay mounds. Archaelogists are finding churches, mosques and temples in the mounds. They were created from clay, and to clay they have returned. What once made the people within distinctive form each other now unites. We are all from the earth, and to the earth we shall return.
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