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A Journey in Azerbaijan’s Coin Minting House

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[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] T [/yt_dropcap]he history of Nakhchivan in the Middle Ages has important aspects that are reflected on the numismatic innovations and archeological treasures that have been discovered over the years. Naringala Fortress, Arazin Settlement of the Middle Ages and the Nakhchivani rulers’ house of coin minting, represent some of the rarest cultural monuments that have played an important role in the local economy of Azerbaijan and in the strengthening of Silk Way trade routes.

Naringala of Nakhchivan is a Middle Ages fortification of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic (Azerbaijan); it is surrounded by thick defense walls, different administrative and economic quarters where the main rulers and feudal statesmen would shelter their administrations’ wealth and belongings.

It is situated in the north of Nakhchivan City and was operational until late XVII century, used as a defense fortification. It has been impossible to restore the fortress walls as it was built in the period before the war of Safavi-Ottomans, an important time that brought a great deal of destruction and damage.

At the present, its remnants are in the south-east direction of Nakhchivan city and is named “Kohnagala” (old fortress) by the local people.

Since the Middle Ages, the territory of Nakhchivan, Azerbaijan, has been an important commercial hub and emerged as the center of gold-silver coin minting and design.   According to French scholars and historical sources the northern part of today’s Nakhchivan City was an important center of trade, commerce and handicraft; it was the main hub where important trade routes and deals would be initiated and further executed; to strengthen trade relations with several cities of Iran, Georgia, a number of ports in Bulgaria and the Black Sea, and other cities in Asia minor. The rise of goods production and promotion of trade influenced a greater deal of money circulation and coin minting processes in Nakhchivan.

According to International archeologists: in Nakhchivan the first minted coin was instituted by Anushiravani-Adil-Khosrov II shahanshah of Sasani (531-579) in the third year of his administration (534). It is the oldest coin minted in Azerbaijan. According to Y. A. Pakhomov, a historian and a numismatist scholar, the discovery of Sasani coins that are minted with the inscribed sign of “Nakhch” belong to the old Nakhchivani Mint enterprise. On behalf of Sasani rulers: Hurmuz IV (579-590), Gubad II (628), Ardashir III (628-629), Farrukan Shahrvaraz (629), Hurmuz V (631-632), Khosrov III (632), Yezdagir III (632-651); there were minted silver dirhams at the Nakhchivani Mint House. From various numismatic items found as well as their embodied characteristics in this region of Azerbaijan, it becomes clear that Nakhchivan has played a strategic role while situated at the center of the Silk Road, it became an indispensable territory that connected the East – West trade routes and had further bolstered regional commercial relations during the 11 – 12 centuries. Moreover, at the Classical Nakhchivan Necropolis I was discovered one silver coin related to the period of Alexander the Great, of Macedonia, the Nakhchivan Necropolis was built in the IV – II Centuries B. C. and is testimony of the strategic importance that this region of Azerbaijan has played in ancient geostrategic interests.

In the XII Century, there was an increase of copper dirham – coin production, named after Atabaylar (Shamsaddin Eldaniz, Mahammad Jahan Pahlavan, Ozbak and others). In the early periods of the Mongol occupation (XIII century) under “Ulug Mongol Ulusbayi” in Nakhchivan mint house, there were issued plain silver dirhams. In the Elkhanilar Period (1256-1357), there was a boom of minting golden coins, silver dirham, and copper currency, under the name of Hulaku Khan and his followers: Muzaffarilar, Juchilar, Jalaizilar; including “ishghal zarb” of Emir Teymur. The operations of Nakhchivan Mint House were intensified during the Safavilar Period. Therefore, the rulers of Nakhchivan ordered the minting of new coins in the names of Ismayil I (1501-24), Tahmasib I (1524-76), Ismayil II (1576-77), Mahammad Khudabandanin (1578-87), as well as fine silver and copper coins were minted after Mahammadi, Abbas I (1587-1629) and his followers.

In the same vein, Safavi Ottoman wars had played an indispensable role on the activity of Nakhchivan Coin House, where in the name of Ottoman Sultans “Ishghal Zarbi” there were various coins minted and engraved here. The activities of Nakhchivan Coin House continued during the time of Khanliglar, where nameless silver coins were issued with four different monetary values.

In Julfa Region, to the right of Nakhchivan – Arafsa automobile way is located Arazin settlement of the Middle Ages; it is located to the West of the Village that bears the same name. The toponymy of Arazin is mentioned in the cuneiform script on some of the most important monuments of Urartus, that were built in the IX century B.C., during the attack of Urartus to the territories of Julfa and exemplifies the resistance of Arsini people against them. Some investigators claim that “Arsini” toponymy makes a reference to today’s word of Arazin. This territory and its settlement are bounded by a dry river valley from NE and SW, while some parts of the monument were destroyed during the construction works of 1989.

The central part of the settlement extends to 360 square meters and it is partly destroyed. Because of exploration investigations work that took place in 1991, over ground materials (labor tools items, pink color glazed and unglazed faience tableware pieces, burned bricks, construction waste and coins) were discovered. Cultural layer of 2 meters of thickness continue to remain in this part of the monument. Spots of fire places filled with black color ashes were found in some of the destroyed parts. Among the rarest discoveries there is a hook made of copper.

Archeological sites in Julfa Region and throughout the Autonomous Republic of Nakhchivan represent a series of rare treasures that are important to human history, serve as research sites and tourism destinations for international visitors, while UNESCO authorities ought to carefully consider and bolster the importance of Azerbaijan’s archeological treasures.

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New World Bank-Financed Project to Unlock Tourism Potential of Uttar Pradesh, India

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A $40 million project, to India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh (UP), was approved by the World Bank Board of Executive Directors today to increase tourism-related benefits for local communities.

Uttar Pradesh (UP) is one of India’s biggest cultural and tourist destinations, home to some of the country’s most iconic assets like the Taj Mahal in Agra, to one of the most ancient living cities in the world, Varanasi. Two of the world’s most important Buddhist sites, Sarnath and Kushinagar are also in UP. In 2016, the state attracted 211 million domestic and just over 6 million international visitors. Despite this, UP remains India’s third poorest state, with a 37.7 percent poverty rate.

The Uttar Pradesh Pro-Poor Tourism Development Project will support the state government’s priority of re-structuring tourism in a way that optimizes the state assets in an inclusive and sustainable manner directly benefiting poor residents and local entrepreneurs, such as rickshaw drivers, local artisans and street vendors, in both economic and non-economic terms. The project will help enhance their linkages with the tourism value chain, while improving living conditions for some of the state’s poorest residents through better infrastructure and services. Such “pro-poor tourism development approach” is expected to help the state better manage its unique assets, improve quality of life, energize local communities and provide job opportunities for people, particularly women and youth, living near selected tourist attractions.

“Tourism is experiencing a period of strong growth driven by India’s burgeoning middle class. Uttar Pradesh with its rich historical, religious and cultural resources, has unrivalled tourism potential. However, the economic benefits of tourism trickle down unevenly to local communities,” said Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Country Director in India. “This project will enable culturally rich local communities to share their knowledge, traditions and heritage with visiting tourists for generating income for themselves and their families.”

The project will focus on Agra and the Braj region, which despite being two of the prime tourist and pilgrimage destinations of India and UP, have some of the state’s highest poverty rates. Agra’s most iconic asset and India’s primary tourism attraction, the Taj Mahal, is surrounded by more than 20 slums with crumbling infrastructure.

In Agra, the project will focus on retelling the story and history of the city, its more than 150 sites and monuments and its rich living heritage by stimulating “Agra beyond the Taj”— a move away from a Taj Mahal-centric tourism model — to retain visitors and increase their spending in the city. It targets the locations that are already seeing notable tourist footfall, bridging its major attractions, which are today visited in isolation, such as the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort, while promoting nearby lesser visited attractions, such as the traditional Kachhpura village in front of Mehtab Bagh’s Mughal garden.

To ensure a destination-level approach, the project will finance the preparation of a tourism development plan for Agra, leverage and partner with the private sector, as well as other key agencies working in the city, such as the World Monuments Fund, which is supporting the Archaeological Survey of India in revitalizing two of the city’s four remaining Mughal gardens.

Given its association with the Krishna mythology and its popular parikrama (pilgrimage) routes, the Braj region draws millions of pilgrims annually. The project will revitalize some of these assets, many of which are intrinsically linked to local communities’ way of life. In Braj, a major emphasis will be on rescuing the living heritage of the region through support to emblematic natural assets, such as its kunds (water bodies, endogenous arts, expressions and creative industries.

“Rather than representing a specific type of tourism or market segment, the project’s pro-poor tourism approach focuses on how the sector is structured to ensure that local communities and the destinations per se benefit from tourism. It does so by supporting a range of activities from strengthening policies, regulations and institutional capacities to providing basic services to communities and tourists alike and ensuring that economic and non-economic linkages with local communities and entrepreneurs are established throughout the tourism value chain,” said Stefania Abakerli, Senior Development Planner and World Bank’s Task Team Leader for the project.

The $40 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a 5-year grace period, and a maturity of 19 years.

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China: Heritage Sites of Confucius and Mencius Restored to Glory, Better Life for Local Communities

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About two hours’ train ride from Beijing, in the south-west of Shandong Province, are Qufu and Zoucheng. These cities are the hometowns of Confucius and Mencius – two great philosophers of ancient China. The temple, cemetery and family mansion of Confucius in Qufu, collectively known as “San Kong” (three Confucius sites), were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.

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Over 65 Phuket hotels join UN Environment #CleanSeas campaign

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Dozens of hotels in one of Thailand’s most popular beach destinations have joined UN Environment’s #CleanSeas campaign, pledging to reduce the tide of plastic waste flowing into our oceans.

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