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The AMU DARYA, also called the AMU RIVER and historically known by its Latin name, OXUS, is a major river in Central Asia
Central Asia
. It is formed by the junction of the Vakhsh and Panj rivers, at Qal`eh-ye Panjeh in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
, and flows from there north-westwards into the southern remnants of the Aral Sea
Aral Sea
. In ancient times, the river was regarded as the boundary between Greater Iran and Turan
Turan
.

CONTENTS

* 1 Names

* 1.1 As the river Gozan

* 2 Description * 3 Watershed

* 4 History

* 4.1 Siberian Tiger Re-population Project

* 5 Literature * 6 See also * 7 Notes * 8 References * 9 External links

NAMES

Amu Darya
Amu Darya
delta from space

The Amu Darya
Amu Darya
(Persian : آمودریا‎‎, Âmudaryâ; Turkmen : Amyderýa/Амыдеря; Uzbek : Amudaryo/Амударё/ەمۇدەريا; Tajik : Амударё; Pashto : د آمو سيند‎, də Āmú Sínd; Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
: Ὦξος, Ôxos), also called the Amu River, is a major river in Central Asia
Central Asia
.

In classical antiquity , the river was known as the Ōxus in Latin and Ὦξος Ôxos in Greek —a clear derivative of Vakhsh , the name of the largest tributary of the river. In Vedic Sanskrit
Sanskrit
, the river is also referred to as Vakṣu (वक्षु). The Avestan texts too refer to the River as Yakhsha/Vakhsha (and Yakhsha Arta ("upper Yakhsha") referring to the Jaxartes / Syr Darya
Syr Darya
twin river to Amu Darya).

In Middle Persian
Middle Persian
sources of the Sassanid period the river is known as Wehrōd (lit. "good river").

The name Amu is said to have come from the medieval city of Āmul, (later, Chahar Joy/Charjunow, and now known as Türkmenabat ), in modern Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
, with Darya being the Persian word for "river".

Medieval Arabic and Muslim
Muslim
sources call the river Jayhoun (جيحون) which is derived from Gihon , the biblical name for one of the four rivers of the Garden of Eden .

AS THE RIVER GOZAN

Western travelers in the 19th century mention that one of the names by which the river was known in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
was Gozan, and that this name was used by Greek, Mongol, Chinese, Persian, Jewish, and Afghan historians. However, this name is no longer used. "Hara (Bokhara) and to the river of Gozan (that is to say, the Amu, (called by Europeans the Oxus)....". "the Gozan River is the River Balkh, i.e. the Oxus or the Amu Darya.....". "... and were brought into Halah (modern day Balkh), and Habor (which is Pesh Habor or Peshawar), and Hara (which is Herat), and to the river Gozan (which is the Ammoo, also called Jehoon)...".

DESCRIPTION

Map of area around the Aral Sea. Aral Sea
Aral Sea
boundaries are c. 1960. Countries at least partially in the Aral Sea
Aral Sea
watershed are in yellow.

The river's total length is 2,400 kilometres (1,500 mi) and its drainage basin totals 534,739 square kilometres (206,464 sq mi) in area, providing a mean discharge of around 97.4 cubic kilometres (23.4 cu mi) of water per year. The river is navigable for over 1,450 kilometres (900 mi). All of the water comes from the high mountains in the south where annual precipitation can be over 1,000 mm (39 in). Even before large-scale irrigation began, high summer evaporation meant that not all of this discharge reached the Aral Sea
Aral Sea
– though there is some evidence the large Pamir glaciers provided enough melt water for the Aral to overflow during the 13th and 14th centuries.

Since the end of the 19th century there have been four different claimants as the true source of the Oxus:

* The Pamir River , which emerges from Lake Zorkul (once also known as Lake Victoria) in the Pamir Mountains
Pamir Mountains
(ancient Mount Imeon
Mount Imeon
), and flows west to Qila-e Panja, where it joins the Wakhan River to form the Panj River . * The Sarhad or Little Pamir River flowing down the Little Pamir in the High Wakhan
Wakhan
* Lake Chamaktin, which discharges to the east into the Aksu River , which in turn becomes the Murghab and then Bartang rivers, and which eventually joins the Panj Oxus branch 350 kilometres downstream at Roshan Vomar in Tajikistan. * An ice cave at the end of the Wakhjir valley, in the Wakhan Corridor , in the Pamir Mountains
Pamir Mountains
, near the border with Pakistan.

Afghanistan- Tajikistan
Tajikistan
bridge over the Amu Darya.

A glacier turns into the Wakhan River and joins the Pamir River about 50 kilometres (31 mi) downstream. Bill Colegrave's expedition to Wakhan
Wakhan
in 2007 found that both claimants 2 and 3 had the same source, the Chelab stream, which bifurcates on the watershed of the Little Pamir, half flowing into Lake Chamaktin and half into the parent stream of the Little Pamir/Sarhad River. Therefore, the Chelab stream may be properly considered the true source or parent stream of the Oxus. The Panj River forms the border of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
and Tajikistan
Tajikistan
. It flows west to Ishkashim where it turns north and then north-west through the Pamirs passing the Tajikistan– Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Friendship Bridge . It subsequently forms the border of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
and Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan
for about 200 kilometres (120 mi), passing Termez
Termez
and the Afghanistan– Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan
Friendship Bridge . It delineates the border of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
and Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
for another 100 kilometres (62 mi) before it flows into Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
at Atamurat . As the Amudarya, it flows across Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
south to north, passing Türkmenabat , and forms the border of Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
and Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan
from Halkabat . It is then split by the Tuyamuyun Hydro Complex into many waterways that used to form the river delta joining the Aral Sea, passing Urgench , Daşoguz , and other cities, but it does not reach what is left of the sea any more and is lost in the desert.

Use of water from the Amu Darya
Amu Darya
for irrigation has been a major contributing factor to the shrinking of the Aral Sea
Aral Sea
since the late 1950s.

Historical records state that in different periods, the river flowed into the Aral Sea
Aral Sea
(from the south), into the Caspian Sea (from the east), or both, similar to the Syr Darya
Syr Darya
(Jaxartes, in Ancient Greek ).

WATERSHED

Pontoon Bridge on the Amu River near Urgench , in 2014 it was replaced by the stationary bridge.

About 1,385,045 square kilometres (534,769 sq mi) of land is drained by the Amu Darya
Amu Darya
into the Aral Sea
Aral Sea
endorheic basin . This includes most of Tajikistan, the southwest corner of Kyrgyzstan , the northeast corner of Afghanistan, a long narrow portion of eastern Turkmenistan and about half of Uzbekistan. Part of the Amu Darya's drainage divide in Tajikistan
Tajikistan
forms that country's border with China (in the east) and Pakistan (to the south). About 61% of the drainage lies within Tajikistan, Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan
and Turkmenistan, while 39% is in Afghanistan. Of the area drained by the Amu Darya, only about 200,000 square kilometres (77,000 sq mi) actively contribute water to the river. This is because many of the river's major tributaries (especially the Zeravshan River ) have been diverted, and much of the river's drainage is dominated by outlying desert and steppe .

The abundant water flowing in the Amu Darya
Amu Darya
comes almost entirely from glaciers in the Pamir Mountains
Pamir Mountains
and Tian Shan
Tian Shan
, which, standing above the surrounding arid plain, collect atmospheric moisture which otherwise would probably escape somewhere else. Without its mountain water sources, the Amu Darya
Amu Darya
would not contain any water—would not exist—because it rarely rains in the lowlands through which most of the river flows. Throughout most of the steppe, the annual rainfall is about 300 millimetres (12 in).

HISTORY

Ancient Bactria
Bactria
Bāqī Chaghānyānī pays homage to Babur beside the Amu Darya
Amu Darya
river, 1504 CE

The ancient Greeks called the Amu Darya
Amu Darya
the Oxus. In ancient times, the river was regarded as the boundary between Greater Iran and Tūrān . The river's drainage lies in the area between the former empires of Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan
and Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great
, although they occurred at very different times. When the Mongols came to the area, they used the water of the Amu Darya
Amu Darya
to flood Konye- Urgench . One southern route of the Silk Road
Silk Road
ran along part of the Amu Darya northwestward from Termez
Termez
before going westwards to the Caspian Sea .

It is believed that the Amu Darya's course across the Kara-Kum Desert has gone through several major shifts in the past few thousand years. Much of the time – most recently from the 13th century to the late 16th century – the Amu Darya
Amu Darya
emptied into both the Aral and the Caspian Seas, reaching the latter via a large distributary called the Uzboy River
Uzboy River
. The Uzboy splits off from the main channel just south of the Amudarya Delta. Sometimes the flow through the two branches was more or less equal, but often most of the Amu Darya's flow split to the west and flowed into the Caspian.

People began to settle along the lower Amu Darya
Amu Darya
and the Uzboy in the 5th century, establishing a thriving chain of agricultural lands, towns, and cities. In about 985 AD the massive Gurganj Dam at the bifurcation of the forks started to divert water to the Aral. Genghis Khan 's troops destroyed the dam in 1221, and the Amu Darya
Amu Darya
shifted to distributing its flow more or less equally between the main stem and the Uzboy. But in the 18th century, the river again turned north, flowing into the Aral Sea, a path it has taken since. Less and less water flowed down the Uzboy. When Russian explorer, Bekovich—Cherkasski suveyed the region in 1720, Amu Darya
Amu Darya
did not flow into the Caspian Sea anymore. Russian troops crossing Amu Darya, c. 1873

The first Englishman to reach the Oxus, William Moorcroft visited about 1824. Another to reach the region in the Great Game period, a naval officer called John Wood , came with an expedition to find the source of the river in 1839. He found modern-day Lake Zorkul, called it Lake Victoria, and proclaimed he had found the source. Then, the French explorer and geographer Thibaut Viné collected a lot of information about this area during five expeditions between 1856 and 1862. French geographer Thibaut Viné

The question of finding a route between the Oxus valley and India has been of concern historically. A direct route crosses extremely high mountain passes in the Hindu Kush
Hindu Kush
and isolated areas like Kafiristan
Kafiristan
. Some in Britain feared that the Empire of Russia, which at the time wielded great influence over the Oxus area, would overcome these obstacles and find a suitable route through which to invade British India – but this never came to pass. The area was taken over by Russian during the Russian conquest of Turkestan .

The Soviet Union
Soviet Union
became the ruling power in the early 1920s and expelled Mohammed Alim Khan . It later put down the Basmachi movement and killed Ibrahim Bek . A large refugee population of Central Asians, including Turkmen, Tajiks and Uzbeks, fled to northern Afghanistan. In the 1960s and 1970s the Soviets started using the Amu Darya
Amu Darya
and the Syr Darya
Syr Darya
to irrigate extensive cotton fields in the Central Asian plain. Before this time, water from the rivers was already being used for agriculture, but not on this massive scale. The Qaraqum Canal , Karshi Canal, and Bukhara Canal were among the larger of the irrigation diversions built. The 1970s, in the course of the Soviet war in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
, Soviet forces used the valley to invade Afghanistan
Afghanistan
through Termez
Termez
. The Soviet Union
Soviet Union
fell in the 1990s and Central Asia
Central Asia
split up into the many smaller countries that lie within or partially within the Amu Darya
Amu Darya
basin. The Main Turkmen Canal , a proposed project that would have diverted water along the dry Uzboy River bed into central Turkmenistan, was never built.

During the Soviet era a resource-sharing system was instated in which Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan
Tajikistan
shared water originating from the Amu Darya and Syr Darya
Syr Darya
rivers with Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
, Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
, and Uzbekistan in summer. In return, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan
Tajikistan
received Kazakh, Turkmen, and Uzbek coal, gas, and electricity in winter. After the fall of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
this system disintegrated and the Central Asian nations have failed to reinstate it. Inadequate infrastructure, poor water-management, and outdated irrigation methods all exacerbate the issue.

SIBERIAN TIGER RE-POPULATION PROJECT

Main article: Siberian Tiger Re-population Project

The Amu-Darya's delta was suggested as a potential site. A feasibility study was initiated to investigate if the area is suitable and if such an initiative would receive support from relevant decision makers. A viable tiger population of about 100 animals would require at least 5,000 km2 (1,900 sq mi) of large tracts of contiguous habitat with rich prey populations. Such habitat is not available at this stage and cannot be provided in the short term. The proposed region is therefore unsuitable for the reintroduction, at least at this stage.

LITERATURE

But the majestic River floated on,

Out of the mist and hum of that low land, Into the frosty starlight, and there moved, Rejoicing, through the hushed Chorasmian waste, Under the solitary moon: — he flowed Right for the polar star, past Orgunjè, Brimming, and bright, and large: then sands begin To hem his watery march, and dam his streams, And split his currents; that for many a league The shorn and parcelled Oxus strains along Through beds of sand and matted rushy isles — Oxus, forgetting the bright speed he had In his high mountain-cradle in Pamere, A foiled circuitous wanderer: — till at last The longed-for dash of waves is heard, and wide His luminous home of waters opens, bright And tranquil, from whose floor the new-bathed stars Emerge, and shine upon the Aral Sea. ~ Matthew Arnold
Matthew Arnold
, Sohrab and Rustum

The Oxus river, and Arnold's poem, fire the imaginations of the children who adventure with ponies over the moors of the West Country in the 1930s children's book The Far-Distant Oxus . There were two sequels, Escape to Persia
Persia
and Oxus in Summer.

Robert Byron 's 1937 travelogue, The Road to Oxiana , describes its author's journey from the Levant
Levant
through Persia
Persia
to Afghanistan
Afghanistan
, with the Oxus as his stated goal.

George MacDonald Fraser 's Flashman at the Charge , (1973), places Flashman on the Amu Darya
Amu Darya
and the Arral Sea during the (fictitious) Russian advance on India during The Great Game period.

SEE ALSO

* List of rivers of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
* Mount Imeon
Mount Imeon
* Sherabad River * Surkhan Darya * Transoxiana
Transoxiana
* Zeravshan River

NOTES

* ^ A B Daene C. McKinney (18 November 2003). "Cooperative management of transboundary water resources in Central Asia" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-10-03. * ^ A B C B. Spuler, Āmū Daryā, in Encyclopædia Iranica , online ed., 2009 * ^ William C. Brice . 1981. Historical Atlas of Islam (Hardcover). Leiden with support and patronage from Encyclopaedia of Islam. ISBN 90-04-06116-9 . * ^ Encyclopædia Britannica Online: Amu Darya * ^ The Kingdom of Afghanistan: a historical sketch, By George Passman Tate, Page 11. * ^ Jews in Islamic countries in the Middle Ages, By Moshe Gil, David Strassler, Page 428. * ^ Tamerlane and the Jews, By Michael Shterenshis, Page xxiv. * ^ Mock, J., O'Neil, K. (2004) Expedition Report * ^ Colegrave, Bill (2011). Halfway House to Heaven. London: Bene Factum Publishing. p. 176. ISBN 978-1-903071-28-1 . * ^ A B Rakhmatullaev, Shavkat; Huneau, Frédéric; Jusipbek, Kazbekov; Le Coustumer, Philippe; Jumanov, Jamoljon; El Oifi, Bouchra; Motelica-Heino, Mikael; Hrkal, Zbynek. "Groundwater resources use and management in the Amu Darya
Amu Darya
River Basin (Central Asia)" (PDF). Environmental Earth Sciences. Retrieved 2010-02-09. * ^ Agaltseva, N.A.; Borovikova, L.N.; Konovalov, V.G. (1997). "Automated system of runoff forecasting for the Amudarya River basin" (PDF). Destructive Water: Water-Caused Natural Disasters, their Abatement and Control. International Association of Hydrological Sciences. Retrieved 2010-02-09. * ^ "Basin Water Organization "Amudarya"". Interstate Commission for Water Coordination of Central Asia. Retrieved 2010-02-11. * ^ "Amudarya River Basin Morphology". Central Asia
Central Asia
Water Information. Retrieved 2010-02-09. * ^ Sykes, Percy (1921). A History of Persia. London: Macmillan and Company. p. 64. * ^ Volk, Sylvia (2000-11-11). "The Course of the Oxus River". University of Calgary. Archived from the original on 2009-12-23. Retrieved 2010-02-08. * ^ Kozubov, Robert (November 2007). "Uzboy". Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
Analytic Magazine. Retrieved 2010-02-08. * ^ Peter Hopkirk,"The Great Game",1994, page 100 * ^ Keay, J. (1983) When Men and Mountains Meet ISBN 0-7126-0196-1 Chapter 9 * ^ See for example "Can Russia invade India?" by Henry Bathurst Hanna, 1895, (Google eBook), or "The Káfirs of the Hindu-Kush", Sir George Scott Robertson, Illustrated by Arthur David McCormick, Lawrence & Bullen, Limited, 1896, (Google eBook) * ^ Taliban and Talibanism in Historical Perspective, M Nazif Shahrani, chapter 4 of The Taliban And The Crisis of Afghanistan, 2008 Harvard Univ Press, edited by Robert D Crews and Amin Tarzi * ^ Termez
Termez
– See the Soviet war in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
article * ^ Pavlovskaya, L.P. "Fishery in the Lower Amu Darya
Amu Darya
Under the Impact of Irrigated Agriculture". Karakalpak Branch. Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan. Retrieved 2010-02-09. * ^ International Crisis Group. "Water Pressures in Central Asia", CrisisGroup.org. 11 September 2014. Retrieved 6 October 2014. * ^ Jungius, H., Chikin, Y., Tsaruk, O., Pereladova, O. (2009). Pre-Feasibility Study on the Possible Restoration of the Caspian Tiger in the Amu Darya
Amu Darya
Delta. WWF Russia

REFERENCES

* Curzon, George Nathaniel . 1896. The Pamirs and the Source of the Oxus. Royal Geographical Society
Royal Geographical Society
, London. Reprint: Elibron Classics Series, Adamant Media Corporation. 2005. ISBN 1-4021-5983-8 (pbk; ISBN 1-4021-3090-2 (hbk). * Gordon, T. E. 1876. The Roof of the World: Being the Narrative of a Journey over the high plateau of Tibet to the Russian Frontier and the Oxus sources on Pamir. Edinburgh. Edmonston and Douglas. Reprint by Ch'eng Wen Publishing Company. Taipei. 1971. * Toynbee, Arnold J . 1961. Between Oxus and Jumna. London. Oxford University Press . * Wood, John , 1872. A Journey to the Source of the River Oxus. With an essay on the Geography of the Valley of the Oxus by Colonel Henry Yule. London: John Murray.

EXTERNAL LINKS

Wikimedia Commons has media related to AMU DARYA .

* Drying of the Aral Sea: Timelapse on YouTube
YouTube
* The Amu

.