Mizdakhan, Karakalpakstan, Uzbekistan
Mizdakhan necropolis, ancient cemetery is one of the oldest and most visited pilgrimage sites of Karakalpakstan. The fortress received its name during the Arab conquest, and means “a fortress of disbelievers”, as the inhabitants of the fortress used to be Zoroastrian before the Arab conquest.
How Mizdakhan became a place of pilgrimage for Muslims? Most likely, Gyaur Kala appeared first. The emergence of the settlement dates back to the 4th century BC. At the first view on the fortress, the power of its ten meters thick walls makes a strong impression, its remnants continue to protect the ruins of the two city citadels, one of which, as believed by archeologists, used to be a construction at the palace, and another one- - the Temple of Fire. The other hill, opposite the fortress, was originally a place for there Zoroastrian cemetery where residents of the fortress buried their dead. The first Muslim burials date to around the ninth century. From then on the necropolis grew exponentially. There are also some Christian burials here dating to the seventh century. These probably involve members of the Melkite sect who had settled in Khwarezm. Interestingly they had apparently adopted Zoroastrian burial customs and interred the bones of their dead in ossuaries. (x)