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CASPIAN

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Originally appearing in Volume V27, Page 172 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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CASPIAN and ARAL.) Kelif- Uzboi.—There is also no doubt that, instead of flowing north-westward of Kelif (on the present Bokhara-Afghan frontier), the Amu once bent south to join the Murghab and Tejen; the chain of depressions described by the Russian engineers as the KeliflJzboi n supports this hypothesis, which a geographer cannot avoid making when studying 'a map of the Transcaspian region; but the date at which the Oxus followed such a course, and the extension which the Caspian basin then had towards the east, are uncertain. In 1897 the population numbered 377,416, of whom only, 42,431 lived in towns; but, besides those of whom the census took account, there were about 25,000 strangers and troops. 2 Their original papers are printed in the Izvestia of the Russian Geographical Society, 1883 to 1887, also in the Journal of the Russian ministry of roads and communications. According to A. E. Hedroitz and A. M. Konshin the old Tonudarya bed of the Amu contains shells of molluscs now living in the Amu (Cyrena fluminalis, Dreissensia polymerpha and Anotlanta). The Sary-kamysh basin is characterized by deposits containing Neritina liturata, Dreissensia polymerpha and Limnaeus, character- istic of this basin. Below the Sary-kamysh there are no deposits containing shells characteristic of the Amu ; Anodontae are found quite occasionally on the surface, not in beds, in company with the Caspian Cardium (Didacna) trigonoides, var. crassum, Cardium piramidalum. Dreissensia polymorpha, D. rostriformis, Hydrobia caspia, Neritina liturata and Dreissensia beardii; the' red clays containing these fossils extend for 130 m. east of the Caspian (Izvestio of Russ. Geog. Soc., 1883 and 1886). ' As by Jenkinson, who mentions a freshwater gulf of the Caspian within six days' march from Khwarezm (or Khiva), by which gulf he could only mean the Sary-kamysh depression. The Turkomans call this southern " old bed` Unghyuz or Onguz (" dry old bed'')', and there can be no doubt that when the Bolshoi-Chertezh of the 16th century (speaking from anterior information) mentions a river, Ughyuz or Ugus, flowing west from the Amu towards the Caspian, it is merely describing as a river what the very name shows to have been a dry bed, supposed to have been once occupied by a river. The similarity of the names Ongus and Ugus with Ogus and Ochus possibly helped • to accentuate, if not to give rise to, the confusion. Cf. N. G. Petrusevich, "The South-east Shores of the Caspian," in Zapiski of the Caucasian Geographical Society (188o), vol. xi. Included in the total were some 280,000 Turkomans, 6o,000 Kirghiz, 12,000 Russians, 8000 Persians, 4250 Armenians, and some Tatars. The estimated population in 1906 was 397,100. The province is divided into five districts, the chief towns of which are Askhabad, the capital; Krasnovodsk; Fort Alexandrovskiy, in the district of Manghishlak, on the Caspian Sea; Mery and Tejen. Until a recent date the chief occupations of the Turkomans were cattle-rearing and robbery. Even those who had settled abodes on the oases of the Atok, Tejen and Mery were in the habit of encamping during the spring in the steppes, the khanates of Afghan Turkestan from Balkh to Meshhed being periodically devastated by them. The aspect of the steppe has, however, greatly changed since the Russian advance and the fall (1881) of the Turkoman stronghold of Geok-tepe. Their principal oases are situated along the Atok or loess terrace, the chief settlements being Askhabad, Kyzyl-arvat and Geok-tepe. The oasis of Mery is inhabited by Akhal-tekkes (about 240,000), mostly poor. In January 1887 they submitted to Russia. The oasis of Tejen has sprung up where the river Tejen (Heri-rud) terminates in the desert. South-west Turcomania.-The region between the Heri-rud and the Murghab has the characteristics of a plateau, reaching about 2000 ft. above the sea, with hills 500 and boo ft. high covered with sand, the spaces between being filled with loess. The Borkhut Mountains which connect the Kopet-dagh with the Sefid-kuh in Afghanistan reach 3000 to 4000 ft., and are cleft by the Heri-rud. Thickets of poplar and willow accompany both the Murghab and the Heri-rud. Pistachio and mulberry trees grow in isolated clumps on the hills; but there are few places available for cultivation, and the Saryk Turkomans (some 6o,000 in number) congregate in only two oases—Yol-otan or Yelatan, and Penjdeh. The Sarakhs oasis is occupied by the Salor Turkomans, hereditary enemies of the Tekke Turkomans; they number about 3000 tents at Old Sarakhs, and 1700 more on the Mlurghab, at Chardjui, at Maimene (or Meimane), and close to Herat. The Transcaspian Region is very rich in minerals. Rock-salt, petroleum, gypsum and sulphur are extracted. Nearly 300,000 acres are irrigated by the natives, and attempts are being made by the government to increase the irrigated area; it is considered that over 5,000,000 acres of land could be rendered suitable for agriculture. Several hundred thousand trees are planted every year, and a forest guard has been established to prevent useless destruction of the saksaul trees, which grow freely in the steppes. A model garden and a mulberry plantation have been established at Askhabad in connexion with the gardening school. The land in the oases, especially those of the Atrek River, is highly cultivated. Wheat and barley are grown, in addition to sorghum (a species of millet), maize, rice, millet and sesame for oil. Raw cotton is extensively grown in the Mery district. Gardening and fruit-growing are well developed, and attempts are being made to encourage the spread of viticulture. Livestock breeding is the chief occupation of the nomad Turkomans and Kirghiz. Considerable fishing is carried on in the Caspian Sea, and seals are killed off the Manghishlak peninsula. The natives excel in domestic industries, as the making of carpets, travelling bags, felt goods and embroidered leather. The Russian population is mostly limited to the military and the towns. Wheat, flour, wool, raw cotton and dried fruit are exported; while tea, manufactured goods, timber, sugar, iron and paraffin oil are imported, as also rice and fruit from Bokhara, Turkestan and Persia. The Transcaspian railway, constructed across the province from Krasnovodsk to Merv, with a branch to Kushk, and from Mery to Bokhara and Russian Turkestan, has effected quite a revolution in the trade of Central Asia. The old caravan routes via Orenburg have lost their importance, and goods coming from India, Persia, Bokhara and even China are now carried by rail. (For the history of the region see MERV.) See the researches of Andrusov, Bogdanovich, Konshin, Mushketov and Obruchev in the Memoirs, the Bulletin (Izvestia) and the Annuals of the Russian Geographical Society (1890—1900); P. M. Lessar, L'Ancienne jonction de l'Oxus aver la mer Caspienre (1889) ; Zarudnoi (zoology) in Bulletin de la societe des naturalisies de Moscou (1889 seq.). (P. A. K. ; J. T. BE.)
End of Article: CASPIAN
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KARL PAUL CASPARI (1814-1892)
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