The “Old” Channel of the Amu Darya: from Ancient Legends and Projects of the 18th Century to the Scientific Discussion of the Second Half of the 19th–First Half of the 20th Centuries

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Abstract. The article is a retrospective of the transformation of returning Amudarya River to the “old” channel concept. In historiography, it was commonly assumed that the idea had mainly Russian origin. Based on exclusive ethnographic material and data of archaeological surveys and works of the 20th century, the author concludes that the narrative has an exclusively Turkmen origin. This narrative originally had existed in the forms of legends, and later, became a part of the large-scale project of Peter the Great. Afterward, when the first data of geographical and geological expeditions to Central Asia of the second half of the 19th century was published, the fact of existence of the crease caused an academic discussion. The argument ended with the first and unsuccessful attempt to build 1200 km of the Main Turkmen Channel in 1950–1953. Nowadays, the idea of turning the main river of the region remains at an extra-project stage due to its super-scale and utopian nature.

Keywords: Oaks, Amu Darya, Uzboy, A. B. Cherkasy, Caspian Sea, Mangyshlak, Khoja Nefes, Usturt Archeology.

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