Sheberghan

Sheberghan

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Sheberghān or Shaburghān , also spelled Shebirghan and Shibarghan, is the capital city
Capital City
Capital City was a television show produced by Euston Films which focused on the lives of investment bankers in London living and working on the corporate trading floor for the fictional international bank Shane-Longman....

 of the Jowzjan Province
Jowzjan Province
Jowzjān or Jōzjān or Jawzjan is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the north of the country. Its capital is Sheberghan.- Demographics :...

 in northern Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

.

Location


Sheberghan is located along the Safid River
Safid River
The Safid River is a river in northern Afghanistan originating in southwestern Sar-e Pol Province. It flows north and is joined by a major tributary from the east just south of the provincial capital, Sar-e Pol. It continues north past the town of Sar-e Pol and into Jowzjan Province. It flows...

 banks, about 130 km (80.8 mi) west of Mazari Sharif on the national primary ring road Herat
Herat
Herāt is the capital of Herat province in Afghanistan. It is the third largest city of Afghanistan, with a population of about 397,456 as of 2006. It is situated in the valley of the Hari River, which flows from the mountains of central Afghanistan to the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan...

-Kandahar
Kandahar
Kandahar is the second largest city in Afghanistan, with a population of about 512,200 as of 2011. It is the capital of Kandahar Province, located in the south of the country at about 1,005 m above sea level...

-Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

-Mazari Sharif-Sheberghan-Maymana-Herat
Herat
Herāt is the capital of Herat province in Afghanistan. It is the third largest city of Afghanistan, with a population of about 397,456 as of 2006. It is situated in the valley of the Hari River, which flows from the mountains of central Afghanistan to the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan...

. Sheberghan airport is situated between Sheberghan and Aqchah.

Ethnography


The city is the single most important Uzbek
Uzbeks
The Uzbeks are a Turkic ethnic group in Central Asia. They comprise the majority population of Uzbekistan, and large populations can also be found in Afghanistan, Tajikstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Pakistan, Mongolia and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China...

-dominated city in all of Afghanistan. But, although Uzbeki
Uzbek language
Uzbek is a Turkic language and the official language of Uzbekistan. It has about 25.5 million native speakers, and it is spoken by the Uzbeks in Uzbekistan and elsewhere in Central Asia...

 is the mother language of a majority of the inhabitants, the city is multi-lingual. Large numbers of Tajiks
Tajiks
Tajik is a general designation for a wide range of Persian-speaking people of Iranic origin, with traditional homelands in present-day Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan...

, Hazaras, Pashtuns, and Arabs live in the city per se.

The Sheberghan "Arabs,"
History of Arabs in Afghanistan
The history of Arabs in Afghanistan spans over one millennium, from the 7th century Islamic conquest when Arab ghazis arrived with their Islamic mission until recently when others from the Arab world arrived to defend fellow Muslims from the Soviet followed by their liberation by NATO forces...

  however, are all Persian-speaking and have been so since time immemorial. However, they claim an Arab identity. There are other such Persian-speaking "Arabs" to the east, between Shebergan, Mazar-i Sharif, Kholm
Kholm
Kholm is a town and the administrative center of Kholmsky District of Novgorod Oblast, Russia, situated at the confluence of the Lovat and Kunya Rivers, north of Toropets, southwest of Staraya Russa, and south of Veliky Novgorod. Population:...

 and Kunduz
Kunduz
Kunduz also known as Kundûz, Qonduz, Qondûz, Konduz, Kondûz, Kondoz, or Qhunduz is a city in northern Afghanistan, the capital of Kunduz Province. It is linked by highways with Mazari Sharif to the west, Kabul to the south and Tajikistan's border to the north...

 living in pockets. Their self-identification as Arabs is largely based on their tribal identity and may in fact point to the 7th and 8th centuries migration to this and other Central Asian locales of many Arab tribes from Arabia in the wake of the Islamic conquests of the region.

In 1856, J. P. Ferrier wrote:

"Shibberghan is a town containing 12,000 souls. Uzbeks and Tajiks, the former being in a great majority."

History


Sheberghan was once a flourishing settlement along the Silk Road
Silk Road
The Silk Road or Silk Route refers to a historical network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa...

. In 1978, Soviet archaeologists discovered the famed Bactrian Gold
Bactrian Gold
The Bactrian Treasure is a treasure cache that lay under the "Hill of Gold" in Afghanistan for 2,000 years until Soviet archeologists exposed it shortly before the 1979 invasion...

 in the village of Tillia Tepe
Tillia tepe
Tillya tepe, Tillia tepe or Tillā tapa or is an archaeological site in northern Afghanistan near Sheberghan, surveyed in 1979 by a Soviet-Afghan mission of archaeologists led by Victor Sarianidi, a year before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.The hoard is a collection of about 20,000 gold...

 outside Sheberghan. In the 13th century Marco Polo visited the city and later wrote about its honey sweet melons. Sheberghan became the capital of an independent Uzbek
Uzbeks
The Uzbeks are a Turkic ethnic group in Central Asia. They comprise the majority population of Uzbekistan, and large populations can also be found in Afghanistan, Tajikstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Pakistan, Mongolia and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China...

 khanate
Khanate
Khanate, or Chanat, is a Turco-Mongol-originated word used to describe a political entity ruled by a Khan. In modern Turkish, the word used is kağanlık, and in modern Azeri of the republic of Azerbaijan, xanlıq. In Mongolian the word khanlig is used, as in "Khereidiin Khanlig" meaning the Khanate...

 that was allotted to Afghanistan by the 1873 Anglo-Russian border agreement.

Sheberghan has for millennia been the focal point of power in the northeast corner of Bactria
Bactria
Bactria and also appears in the Zend Avesta as Bukhdi. It is the ancient name of a historical region located between south of the Amu Darya and west of the Indus River...

. It still sits astride the main route between Balkh
Balkh
Balkh , was an ancient city and centre of Zoroastrianism in what is now northern Afghanistan. Today it is a small town in the province of Balkh, about 20 kilometers northwest of the provincial capital, Mazar-e Sharif, and some south of the Amu Darya. It was one of the major cities of Khorasan...

 and Herat
Herat
Herāt is the capital of Herat province in Afghanistan. It is the third largest city of Afghanistan, with a population of about 397,456 as of 2006. It is situated in the valley of the Hari River, which flows from the mountains of central Afghanistan to the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan...

, and controls the direct route north to the Oxus/Amu Darya
Amu Darya
The Amu Darya , also called Oxus and Amu River, is a major river in Central Asia. It is formed by the junction of the Vakhsh and Panj rivers...

, about 90 km away, as well as the important branch route south to Sar-e Pol
Sar-e Pol
Sar-e Pol may refer to many places in Afghanistan:* Sar-e Pol Province in Afghanistan* Sar-e Pol District in Sar-e Pol Province* Sar-e Pol city in Sar-e Pol District*Sar-e Pol, Jowzjan*Sar-e Pol...

.

In 1856, J. P. Ferrier reports:
The heavily fortified town of Yemshi-tepe, just five kilometres to the northeast of modern Sheberghan, on the road to Akcha, is only about 500 metres (547 yards) from the famous necropolis of Tillya-tepe, where an immense treasure was excavated from the graves of the local royal family by a joint Soviet-Afghan archaeological effort from 1969 to 1979.

In 1977 a Soviet-Afghan archaeological team began serious excavations 5 km north of the town for relics. They had uncovered mud-brick columns and a cross-shaped altar of an ancient temple dating back to at least 1000 BC.

Six royal tombs were excavated at Tillia Tepe
Tillia tepe
Tillya tepe, Tillia tepe or Tillā tapa or is an archaeological site in northern Afghanistan near Sheberghan, surveyed in 1979 by a Soviet-Afghan mission of archaeologists led by Victor Sarianidi, a year before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.The hoard is a collection of about 20,000 gold...

 revealing a vast amount of gold and other treasures. Several coins dated up to the early 1st century CE, with none dated later.

Sheberghan has been proposed as the site of ancient Xidun, one of the five xihou, or divisions, of the early Kushan Empire
Kushan Empire
The Kushan Empire originally formed in the early 1st century AD under Kujula Kadphises in the territories of ancient Bactria on either side of the middle course of the Oxus in what is now northern Afghanistan, Pakistan, and southern Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.During the 1st and early 2nd centuries...

.

Sheberghan was the site of the Dasht-i-Leili massacre
Dasht-i-Leili massacre
The Dasht-i-Leili massacre occurred in December 2001 during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan where between 250 and 3,000 Taliban prisoners were shot and/or suffocated to death in metal truck containers, while being transferred by U.S...

 in December 2001 during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan where between 250 and 3,000 (depending on sources) Taliban prisoners were shot and/or suffocated to death in metal truck containers, while being transferred by American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and Northern Alliance
Northern Alliance
The Afghan Northern Alliance is a military-political umbrella organization created by the Islamic State of Afghanistan in 1996.Northern Alliance may also refer to:*Northern Alliance , a Canadian white supremacist group...

 soldiers from Kunduz
Kunduz
Kunduz also known as Kundûz, Qonduz, Qondûz, Konduz, Kondûz, Kondoz, or Qhunduz is a city in northern Afghanistan, the capital of Kunduz Province. It is linked by highways with Mazari Sharif to the west, Kabul to the south and Tajikistan's border to the north...

 to Sheberghan prison.

Sheberghan was the stronghold of Uzbek warlord General Abdul Rashid Dostum
Abdul Rashid Dostum
Abdul Rashid Dostum is a former pro-Soviet fighter during the Soviet war in Afghanistan and is considered by many to be the leader of Afghanistan's Uzbek community and the party Junbish-e Milli-yi Islami-yi Afghanistan...

, who had been vying with his Tajik rival General Mohammed Atta
Mohammed Atta (Afghan warlord)
Ustad Atta Mohammed Noor is a politician in Afghanistan, serving as the Governor of Balkh Province in the north of country. He was appointed in 2004 by President Hamid Karzai. An ethnic Tajik, he was a high school teacher before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan...

 for control of northern Afghanistan.

The name of the city might be a derivative of Shaporgan, meaning "City of Shapor." Shapur, was the name of two Sasanian kings, both of whom built a great number of cities. However, Shapur I
Shapur I
Shapur I or also known as Shapur I the Great was the second Sassanid King of the Second Persian Empire. The dates of his reign are commonly given as 240/42 - 270/72, but it is likely that he also reigned as co-regent prior to his father's death in 242 .-Early years:Shapur was the son of Ardashir I...

 was the governor of the eastern provinces of the empire, and it is more likely that he is the builder of a great many cities in this general area that bear his name. These include, in possible addition to Sheberghan, Nishapur
Nishapur
Nishapur or Nishabur , is a city in the Razavi Khorasan province in northeastern Iran, situated in a fertile plain at the foot of the Binalud Mountains, near the regional capital of Mashhad...

  ("Good deed of Shapor") and Bishapur
Bishapur
thumb|Irano-Roman floor mosaic detail from the palace of [[Shapur I]] at BishapurBishapur is an ancient city situated south of modern Faliyan, Iran on the ancient road between Persis and Elam. The road linked the Sassanid capitals Istakhr and Ctesiphon...

  in Iran and Peshawar
Peshawar
Peshawar is the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the administrative center and central economic hub for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan....

 in Pakistan

Economy


Sheberghan is surrounded by irrigated agricultural land.

With Soviet assistance, exploitation of Afghanistan's natural gas reserves began in 1967 at the Khowaja Gogerak field, 15 kilometers east of Sheberghan in Jowzjan Province. The field's reserves were thought to be 67 billion cubic meters. In 1967, the Soviets also completed a 100-kilometer gas pipeline linking Keleft in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 with Sheberghan.

Sheberghan is important in the energy infrastructure of Afghanistan:
  • The Zomrad Sai Oilfield is situated near Sheberghan
  • The Sheberghan Topping Plant processes crude oil for consumption in heating boilers in Kabul
    Kabul
    Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

    , Mazari Sharif and Sheberghan
  • The Jorqaduk, Khowaja Gogerak, and Yatimtaq gas fields are all located within 20 miles (32.2 km) of Sheberghan.

External links