Syr-Darya Oblast. Ruins of the Mulushki Mirza Rabat in the Hungry Steppe


This photograph of the ruins of the Mulushki Mirza rabat on the Golodnaia (or Hungry) Steppe is from the archeological part of Turkestan Album. The six-volume photographic survey was produced in 1871–72 under the patronage of General Konstantin P. von Kaufman, the first governor-general (1867–82) of Turkestan, as the Russian Empire’s Central Asian territories were called. Located primarily in present-day Uzbekistan and partly in present-day Tajikistan, the Golodnaia Steppe is a semi-arid grassy plain extending southeast from the Kyzyl Kum Desert to the Syr Darya River. After the Russian conquest of the region in the late 1860s, the fertile quality of the loess soil—ideal for raising cotton—gave rise to large irrigation projects, some of which were photographed by Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii four decades later. The word “rabat” (or ribat) has various interpretations that imply a fortified outpost. Of the ancient rabat shown here, only the central domed structure remains. Even in its ruined state, the dome impresses with the quality of its masonry, which consists of bricks angled slightly inward (or corbelled) to create the dome. Particularly notable is the manner in which the brick courses form large bands in the dome’s ascent. (A similar technique is visible in the Mulushki Mirza rabat near Khujand.) The exact location of the monument is not known, but it is possible that it was to the northeast of Jizzakh on the route to Tashkent, part of the Silk Road network. The two figures are wearing Russian army greatcoats.

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Title in Original Language

Сыр-дарьинская область. Развалины Мулушки Мурза Рабат в голодной степи

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 1, plate 13.

Last updated: September 30, 2016