No city in the Central Asia was transformed as quickly as Tashkent. Along with Bukhara and Samarkand, Tashkent is referred to the most ancient cities of the East. However, in opposition to them, the name “Tashkent” is not mentioned in the ancient written sources, though the region in whole was described by both eastern and western authors.
The information about Tashkent oasis can be found in chronicles of political events, history of dynasties, geographic works, and road works. There is some information about oasis in ancient Persian, Greek and other sources.
Researchers used the facts of written sources to recreate the history of this region beginning from the VI c. BC. Records of Greek and Roman authors say about tribes and nations, who settled far from the borders of Mediterranean world.
Earlier, according to Chinese chronicles of II century BC, the river of Syr-Darya was called as Yosha or the Pearl. This chronicle also has information about ancient Tashkent Oasis, and about its inhabitants, who were called as the tribes of powerful Turs – the country of Turan.
The country of Turan included the areas of settlement of nomad and contacting tribes of Central Asia. According to the same book, the territory of their settlement was the part of the state of Kangyuy. The heart of it was Tashkent region. Its borders reached up to Otrar on the north and to Fergana on the south.
Later sources called the region and city as Shi, which was inherited by Yuni. According to the sources, Shi turned into the independent state after collapse of the Kangyuy state in III-IV centuries AD. According to the facts of archeologists the most ancient capital of this possession was located in the vast city of Kanka, in 70 km to the south from Tashkent. The number of urban settlements had already existed within the borders of future Tashkent.
There are known coins of the end of the III century AD which were issued by the rulers of this state. In state chanceries people used the Sogdian writing, which is indicated not only by coins but discoveries of records. These records say about the self-named state – Chach (the nation of Chach or the country of Chach). They mention that its borders included the number of cities and fortresses, which now are well-studied on the territory of Southern Kazakhstan. Governmental officers in the name of former confederates of Kangyuy watched over the determination of borders with nomad steppe.
The science of archeology can answer the question when first points of settled life appeared and the civilization began to develop.
The interest to the ancient history of Tashkent has its own history. In 1895 the group of fans of archeology was created in Tashkent. It included the representatives of leading intelligence, students of local history. It was led by Nikolay Petrovich Ostroumov – the director of boys’ gymnasium.
Exactly this period was the period of vivid interest to the history of the city, supported by the collection of finds of material culture and examination of monuments on the territory of Tashkent.
The famous archeologist V.L.Vyatkin published the sketch “To the historic geography of Tashkent region” in the same years. All these facts are used with interest and thankfulness even today. The information about Tashkent can be found in works of outstanding scientist, orientalist V.V.Bartold.
“Among the people, concerned in the study of the history of Tashkent, it should be said about the patriarch of Central-Asian archeologists Michail Evgenievich Masson. He was the first who was engaged not only in the collection of archeological material, but introduced the practice to observe the urban development at the laying of streets, reconstruction of quarters and squares. As early as in 20ties of XX century he succeeded to summarize the facts of archeological observation and wrote the article “About the past of Tashkent city”, where he gave the scheme of development on different stages.”
The collection of materials and observations was continued by students – archeologists of Tashkent State University: M.E. Masson created the department of archeology in the university in 1940, and for many years he led this department.
His students went to study in real earnest the matter of the origin-time of the city and of the place of the original center of urban life.
For the purpose of detection of the ancient monuments of urban culture of Tashkent, determination and study of its appearance and stages of formation they began the broadened special research, mostly in eastern and southern part of urban culture within the system of irrigation networks.
Tashkent as well as other cities of the East was formed as the center of micro-oasis, located at the middle current of the river Chirchik.
The basin of the Chirchik River is the cradle of appearance of one of the most ancient agricultural and urban civilizations of Central Asia. Within its borders the capital center of oasis appeared and moved over the history. The historically formed system of channels supplied the city, which had never suffered from the lack of water. It was always stressed by authors, who wrote about Tashkent, beginning from the Middle Ages up to XIX century. The river of Chirchik is supplied by its main channels: Boz-Su, Salar, Karasu, Karakamysh. All of them are the waterways of natural origin, but in the process of economic activity they were transformed through watersheds by channels. All drainage system is divided into two main water systems:
1. Salar – Jun – Karasu;
2. Boz-Su – Kalkauz – Karakamish.
First farmers appeared in Tashkent oasis in the end of the II millennium BC.
In the result of researches the ancient monuments of settlements were discovered, and helped to answer the question on origin time and sources of urban culture on its territory. Such monument is Shash-tepe, located in the southern part of modern city, on the banks of the Jun channel, flowing out of Salar.