750-year-old ancient city unearthed in Russia

30/10/14 .- http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/

750-year-old ancient city unearthed in Russia

Multicultural Ukek city founded by Genghis Khan’s descendents

Remains of a 750-year-old city, founded by descendents of Genghis Khan, have been unearthed along the Volga River in Russia.

The city’s name was Ukek and it was founded just a few decades after Genghis Khan died in 1227. After the great conqueror’s death, his empire split apart and his grandson Batu Khan, who lived from 1205 to 1255, founded the Golden Horde (also called the Kipchak Khanate). The kingdom of Golden Horde stretched from Eastern Europe to Central Asia and controlled many of the Silk Road trade routes that connected China to Medieval Europe.

This city of Ukek was built close to the Khan's summer residence along the Volga River, something which helped it become prosperous. The name Golden Horde comes from the golden tent from which the Khan was said to rule. Archaeologists with the Saratov Regional Museum of Local Lore have discovered the Christian quarter of Ukek, shedding light on the Christian people who lived under the Khan's rule.

Ukek was a multicultural city, where a variety of religious beliefs were practiced including Islam, Christianity and Shamanism. While Christians did not rule the Golden Horde, the discoveries archaeologists made show that not all the Christians were treated as slaves, and people of wealth frequented the Christian quarter of the city.

“Some items belonging to local elite were found in the Christian district,” the Live Science quoted Dmitriy Kubankin, an archaeologist with the Saratov Regional Museum of Local Lore, as saying. “Among other things, there is a Chinese glass hair pin, with a head shaped as a split pomegranate, and a fragment of a bone plate with a carved dragon image.”

Among the discoveries are the basements of two Christian temples. In eastern Christianity churches are sometimes called temples. A bas relief showing a lion being clawed by a griffin was found in the remains of a Christian temple at the Ukek city site. One of the temples was built around 1280 and was destroyed in the early 14th century.

During the 14th century, the Golden Horde began to decline, and in 1395 Ukek was attacked by a ruler named Tamerlane, a man out to build an empire of his own. He destroyed Ukek and took over much of the territory formerly ruled by the Golden Horde, dealing them a blow from which they would never recover.

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