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A Journey in Azerbaijan’s Coin Minting House

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The 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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Adventurers and travelers: Add Western Australia’s Kimberley to your list

MD Staff

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Let your soul experience one of the most stunning and pristine places on earth, Western Australia’s Kimberley. Its coastline is so unspoiled, dinosaur footprints still smatter the rocks. Its oceans are so untouched, whales nurse their young in its warm waters. Its indigenous culture is so ancient, no other can match it. The Kimberley is more than a remarkable region in Western Australia; it’s one of the most fascinating and least explored places in the world. As world travelers seek unexplored destinations, The Kimberley has been added to their bucket list of dream vacations. This is a place that commands explorers to indulge in its many wonders.

A last true wilderness

Both magical and rugged, Western Australia’s Kimberley is one of the few last wilderness areas, like Alaska, Galapagos, Antarctica and the Amazon, where you feel the rawness of the earth and the wonder of nature with an ancient story. Immediately, there is a deep intangible presence in the Kimberley that is at once powerful yet calming. Night-blooming flowers from the giant Boab trees make the air fragrant while the night sky glitters with millions of stars.

The gateway to the Kimberley is the small pearling town of Broome, home to some of the largest and most prized pearls, where camel rides on Cable Beach is part of everyday life and where nine sets of dinosaur footprints cast as massive fossils. The influence of the pearling industry, with its melting pot of cultures and cuisines, has helped to create the distinctive character and charm of Broome, which offers select beach resorts, a unique calendar of events and exquisite dining options, including locally caught fresh seafood.

Modern means of exploration

The best way to experience the Kimberley is through expedition cruising. A unique collection of companies operate boats that take passengers to the region’s most pristine beaches and reefs, to towering waterfalls so close you can feel the fresh mist on your face, through ancient gorges, and to 350-million-year-old rock formations. Through expedition cruising, you will likely place your footstep where no one before you has ever been.

In this remote setting, visitors can encounter the true icons in Western Australia’s North West, including the natural phenomenon of the Horizontal Falls, the majestic 260-foot-tall King George Falls, and the Rowley Shoals featuring coral atolls home to 700 tropical fish species and considered among the best dive spots in the world, where not more than 500 people visit in a year.

Adventure need not be rugged

Just because you’re exploring one of the last untouched wildernesses on the planet doesn’t mean you can’t indulge.

Both adventurous and luxurious, Kimberley cruises bring the savvy traveler to places few humans have seen while offering them the comforts of a delicious meal showcasing local flavors (or your own catch of the day), soft beds, and services that connect travelers with the people and the land.

Every cruise is different. Many have on-board naturalists and experts that guide excursions and open the wonders of the region to curious passengers. Some high-end cruises have a helicopter to take you to the top of the cliffs and give you an unrivaled view of this unforgettable world.

Before heading to the Kimberley, explore Western Australia’s capital city Perth, home to many extraordinary experiences, including one of the world’s largest inner city parks, stunning metro beaches, a lively food and wine scene, marine encounters, and the State’s oldest wine region. Perth is the fastest-growing (and sunniest!) city in Australia.

To find the cruise that’s right for you, check out the Kimberley Expedition Cruise Guide, an invaluable resource that showcases a number of companies offering world-class excursions throughout this stunning region, or visit Down Under Answers, Qantas Vacations and Southern World.

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Top 5 reasons to visit El Salvador in 2018

MD Staff

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El Salvador, Central America’s smallest country, attracts a wide array of intrepid travelers who come to experience its vibrant culture and diverse outdoor activities. From its rich Maya history, to its volcanic beauty and generations-old artisan heritage, El Salvador provides plenty for travelers to explore.

El Salvador is incredibly easy to reach from the U.S. and offers everything from ecotourism to culinary adventures at a fraction of the price of more well-known Central American destinations. There are regular direct flights to El Salvador from major U.S. cities, including New York City, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, and there is no need to exchange money upon arrival, as the U.S. dollar is the national currency.

Here are five ways to make the most of a trip to El Salvador.

  1. Kick back at the beach

There is no shortage of world-class beaches in El Salvador, with warm Pacific waters lapping on nearly 200 miles of coastline. Surfers flock to La Libertad for its renowned waves and international competitions. Those interested in learning to surf can find lessons for as low as $10. Along black sand beaches, travelers will find amazing seafood to enjoy while taking in magnificent ocean views.

  1. Hike volcanoes and waterfalls

El Salvador is known as the “Land of Volcanoes” with 25 volcanoes visible to the naked eye. Many travelers combine a city tour of San Salvador with an easy volcano hike in El Boquerón National Park, just a short drive from the city. Local guides can navigate visitors up steeper volcanoes for half- and full-day trips. The country’s tallest volcano is Santa Ana Volcano in Cerro Verde National Park northwest of San Salvador where hikers will find moderate to difficult trails with a stunning turquoise crater lake at the top.

  1. Get caffeinated on a coffee tour

El Salvador’s high altitude and tropical climate create the ideal conditions for growing coffee beans, and the country is known as one of the world’s top regions for specialty coffee production. Chances are that you have enjoyed java that originated in the mountainous region of El Salvador. A tour of El Carmen Coffee Estate gives visitors a closer look at the coffee-making process and provides the chance to taste some of the best coffee on earth straight from the source.

  1. Get crafty with an artisanal immersion

Several of El Salvador’s small colonial towns are known for signature artisanal crafts that travelers can learn during their stay. Those that travel north from San Salvador to the quaint town of Suchitoto can make their way to the Arte Añil workshop and gallery to learn how to dye cloth with indigo as the Maya once did. Further north, the town of La Palma draws inspiration from the Maya to create the Arte Naíf drawing style. Visitors learn to paint with spontaneity without adhering to perfect proportions, creating bright and contrasting colored designs on locally harvested copinol seeds for a truly exotic souvenir.

  1. Dig into the past with an archaeological site visit

Known as the “Pompeii of the Americas,” the UNESCO World Heritage Site Joya de Ceren provides a fascinating look at an ancient farming community that was buried in ash from a nearby volcano. A visit to the site and the nearby pyramids at San Andrés educates travelers on the lives of Central America’s original inhabitants who lived there as many as 1,000 years before Europeans arrived.

With easy flight options, low prices for world-class experiences, and the ability to hike a volcano in the morning and surf in the afternoon, it’s not hard to see why El Salvador has become a hot destination for 2018.

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Entrepreneurs in unexpected places: How one Midwest city promotes diverse local innovation

MD Staff

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In September of 2017, thousands of people from around the world congregated in an unlikely place: Wausau, Wisconsin.

This diverse crowd was gathered for the first International Wisconsin Ginseng Festival. While many may be surprised that such an event would be held in the middle of Wisconsin’s rolling hills and scenic lakes, it is locally a $50 million industry with a long history. In the mid-1970s Hmong immigrants, primarily from Vietnam, brought their entrepreneurial skills and revitalized the local ginseng industry. Welcomed by a friendly community that continues to foster an entrepreneurial spirit, Hsu’s Ginseng, now under the leadership of the original founder’s son Will Hsu, has grown to be the largest integrated ginseng growing and retailing operation in the U.S. Wausau’s industrious self-starters and newcomers grew a multimillion-dollar industry, and the region continues to incubate entrepreneurs across a diverse array of business sectors.

Local innovation

Wausau, ranked recently by ZipRecruiter as a Top 10 Job Market for 2018, has a track record of successful public-private development partnerships and hosts a thriving incubator — the Wausau Entrepreneurial and Education Center — to help local entrepreneurs get started and help established businesses grow. For instance, Wausau-based Resilient Technologies, now a business of Bridgestone Americas, was approached by the U.S. government to develop puncture-resistant tires. In an effort to make military vehicles more safe, they used strong local manufacturing ties to develop a first-of-its-kind non-pneumatic tire in Wausau’s incubator. Bridgestone is now looking for ways to apply the technology to its consumer and commercial portfolio, and develop next-generation tires that offer extended mobility.

“A lot of people don’t know these types of projects are happening here, but the city of Wausau is a great partner and the city provides our team with a wonderful place to call home,” says Louis Stark, operations manager, Resilient Technologies, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations.

The availability of an experienced workforce that can develop these specialized tires for the U.S. military is the same workforce that has made an impact on other areas of Wausau’s economy.

Entrepreneurial workforce

Sometimes entrepreneurial opportunities spring from unusual skills. Some residents in Wausau have deep connections to artistic traditions, including sewing. Bob Jacquart, chief executive officer of Stormy Kromer, makers of iconic hats and rugged outerwear, says he now relies on the sewing skills of Wausau’s residents to create one of the Midwest’s most storied brands.

Stormy Kromer’s operations in Wausau have been successful, outpacing production in the company’s headquarters in Ironwood, Michigan.

“I could not have felt more welcome and city leaders could not have been more accommodating in helping Stormy Kromer find a suitable space as well as skilled workers in Wausau,” says Jacquart. “Our business found exactly what it needed and the support from leaders was exceptional.”

Incubating community

The local economic conditions and support environment that allowed these Wausau-based companies to thrive are the very conditions that led Time Magazine to label Wausau a “middle-class paradise” last year.

A combination of affordability, welcoming atmosphere and economic diversity is attracting young people, new industries and incubating unlikely entrepreneurs. Aiming to make the most out of these trends, the city is responding in kind. New growth and development hit record levels in 2017 across diverse sectors of growing businesses in Wausau. The city’s warm attitude toward entrepreneurs and diversity further complement its traditional economic base in metals manufacturing, building materials, insurance, informational technology and health care.

To learn more about how the city of Wausau is attracting entrepreneurs and gaining an international reputation, visit www.wausome.com.

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