Zeravshan River

Zeravshan River

Zeravshan River (also Zarafshan or Zarafshon, _tg. Дарёи Зарафшон, _uz. Zarafshon, from the Persian word زر افشان, "zar afshān", meaning "the sprayer of gold"), whilst smaller and less well-known than the two great rivers of Central Asia, the Amu Darya (or Oxus) and the Syr Darya (or Jaxartes), is if anything more valuable as a source of irrigation in the region. Its name, "sprayer of gold" in Persian, refers to the presence of gold-bearing sands in the upper reaches of the river. To the ancient Greeks it was known as the Polytimetus.

It rises at coord|39|30|N|70|35|E| on the fringes of the Pamirs in Tajikistan, flowing due west for some 300 km, passing Penjikent before entering Uzbekistan at coord|39|32|N|67|27|E|, where it turns west-to-north-west, flowing past the legendary city of Samarkand, which is entirely dependent on the oasis thus created, until it bends left again to the west north of Navoiy and further to the south-west, passing Bukhara before it loses itself in the desert beyond the city of Karakul (Qorako‘l), not quite reaching the Amu Darya, of which it was formerly a tributary.

The Zeravshan range (or Zeravshan mountains) rises to the south of the river. The range extends over 370 km in the east-west direction along the south of Sughd Province in Tajikistan, reaching the highest point of 5,489 m ( [http://www.fany.ru/index.php?mod=gallery&page=mount_chimtarga Chimtarga peak] ) in its central part. South-west of Penjikent the range crosses from Tajikistan into Uzbekistan, where it continues at decreasing elevations (1,500-2,000 m) along the internal border between Samarkand and Surkhandarya provinces, until it blends into the desert south-west of Samarkand. ["Atlas of the Soviet Republics of Central Asia", Moscow, 1988, in Russian.]

Zarafshan is also a city in Uzbekistan's Navoiy Province, called "the gold capital of Uzbekistan".


Further reading

* В.В. Бартольд "К Истории Орошения в Туркестане" (Collected Works, Vol.3) (Москва) 1965
* V.V. Barthold "Turkestan Down to the Mongol Invasion" (London) 1968
* Robert Lewis "Early Irrigation in West Turkestan" "Annals of the Association of American Geographers" Vol.56 .3 (Sept. 1966) pp467-491
* Edgar Knobloch "Beyond the Oxus" (London) 1972

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