Khiva was mentioned for the first time in the works of the Arabic and Persian authors Istakhri, Mukaddasi and Khudud al-Alam dating from the tenth century. The archaeological excavations by V.A. Bulatova found the earliest cultural strata of Khiva dating back to the tenth — eleventh centuries. Meanwhile Ya.Q.Qulamov stated, based on a limited collection of ceramics, that Khiva was founded between the second and third centuries A.D. It is important to note that both V.V. Bartold and Kyat also dated the founding of Khiva to the pre-Muslim period.
Numismatic finds and an interesting legend quoted by Khudaiberdib. Khushmukhammad, the Khiva historian (born in 1774), pointed to a more remote past for Khiva. In his work Dili Gharaib (The Heart of Rarity) he wrote: «One more city, the city of Khorezm (called Kami) was founded by Simb. Nukh (i.e. Sim, the son of Noy), and is now known as Khivak. It was formerly called Tarikh and Raml (a place abundant in the sand). Once-upon-a-time, Simb.Nukh lay down and fell asleep. In a dream he saw himself surrounded by three hundred torches. He woke up elated and, deciding to leave a reminder about himself, he marked the place and built a city. When he returned a second time he built fortress walls around the city and dug a well on its western outskirts. Khivak has been destroyed and rebuilt many times.»
In trying to extract historical facts from the reports of historians and legends about the founding of Khiva and its founder Sim, we are confronted by the following: Khiva was first of all known as Raml. However, one should not fully trust this information because the name Raml is often confused with the Palestinian city Ramla. In addition the existence of Sim hints at the possibility that it originated from Jewish legend. This legend, ostensibly originating from biblical characters, was subsequently attributed to Khiva and a number of other cities and monuments in Transoxiana in Central Asia.
Therefore, with regard to the question of the date of the founding of Khiva, the most important criteria to be considered are the findings of the archaeological researchers. It should be noted that archaeological excavations cannot be undertaken since Khiva is a living city with densely built-up areas where only stratigraphic methods of excavation and digging can be employed.
Certain features in the cultural strata of Khiva present difficulty for researchers. Its average depth is comparatively shallow (6m. -8m.). The city developed continuously over a period of one thousand years. The peculiar formation of the cultural strata on the outskirts of Ichan-kala, the historical center and initial core of the formation of the city Khiva, indicates that the cultural strata were not deposited in the same way as in the case of the other big cities of Central Asia. The earliest buildings of Ichan-kala were not preserved, and the densely built-up area of modern buildings prevents any wide-ranging, systematic archaeological sounding of the historical site of the town.
In the restoration of a number of monuments in the eastern and western sectors of Ichan-kala by V.A. Bulatova, stratigraphic excavation methods were used. This work revealed the cultural strata of Khiva down to the continental layer for the first time. In lower layers of the strata in the eastern sector only the cultural stratum of the fifth — seventh centuries was uncovered. These layers were directly deposited on the pure layer of the dune sand. The cultural layers of the eighth — fourteenth centuries, uncovered in the western sector of the city, were also deposited on the continental sand dune. According to Bulatova, the territory of the citadel (Kunya-Ark) had been discovered.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, members of the Uzbek Research Institute of Historical Monuments (UzRIHM), found valuable ceramic material while working on the restoration of the architectural monuments of Ichan-kala. Studying the finds, M. Mambetullaev discovered the ceramics came from an earlier period of historical Khorezm dating back to the third or fourth century B.C. During 1973-1975 the same scientist, while examining the uncovered fortress walls of Ichan-kala, several times found the brick work to be of raw square brick 40-43x40-43x9-13 cm, which was typical of ancient Khorezm. It should also be noted that in 1969, E.V. Rtveladze found antique and medieval coins in the numismatic collection of a Khiva museum, which, according to T. Sereda the curator, had been found in the region of Ichan-kala.
Archaeological research aimed at determining the historical age of Khiva was carried out in 1984-1990 by the archaeologist M. Mambetullaev, a representative of the Institute of History, Language, and Literature of the Kara-kalpak branch of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Uzbekistan. In all, he undertook six stratigraphic excavations.
Excavation of the site covering an area of 577 sq. m., was carried out in the northwestern corner of Kunya-Ark at the foot of a tall artificial platform on top of which were the ruins of Akshikh-bobo. Ten strata were discovered (counting from the bottom.) The first stratum included the remains of the fortress wall. The wall had been built directly on the continental coarse-grained sand. The foundation of the walls is adobe with slopes filled with sand and fragments of large raw brick. On the foundation, double fortress walls were erected from raw bricks of 40-42x41-44x9-13 cm, using clay mortar to a thickness of 2-8 cm. The majority of the bricks are marked with coats of arms. The width of the inner corridor is 2 m. The inter-wall corridors with blocked vaults are a widespread phenomenon in ancient Khorezm fortification. They were found at Bazar-kala (fifth- fourth centuries B.C.), Small Kirk-Kiz, Burla-Kala (fourth century B.C. — second century A.D.) and Kurghashin-Kala. In the historical town of Koi-Krilgan-kala, built during the fourth century B.C., vaulted blocks were used in the passages of shooting galleries in the tower. The ruins of the cultural stratum connected with these walls contained quite a lot of ceramic fragments of red clay.
The second stratum was characterized by a strong defensive system. The fortress walls of Ichan-kala were reconstructed with raw bricks of 39-41 x40-42x9-1 1 cm to a thickness of 0.75-1.80 cm. The shooting corridor and the inner tower houses were also built with raw bricks. As a result, the thickness of the fortress walls of Ichan-kala reached 7.5-9 meters.
A third stratum consisted of the remains of raw walls, uncovered to a length of 4.7 m., preserved to a height of 2.55-3 m. and 1.1 m. in thickness. The walls had been built from raw brick 34-36x35-39x3-5 cm and plastered with a layer of large-grained sand containing fragments of ceramics, and animal and fish bones.
The fourth stratum consisted of a loose layer, which was 23-52 cm thick. It covered the walls of the third stratum. It extends to the limits of the fortress walls and contained ceramics from the ninth — eleventh centuries. The layer on the crest of the fortress wall reveals the absence of defensive walls on the fourth building period.
In the fifth stratum one can see a section of the wall built from small raw and burnt brick of 23-25x23-27x3-5 cm. The wall is 1.5-2.5 m. thick and 37-38 cm high. The transverse raw bricklaying consisting of two or three rows are found on the top of the earth wall and filled with earth. Ceramic fragments, fish and animal bones, pieces of glassware, and pieces of irrigation ceramics from the twelfth — thirteenth centuries were found. Apparently, repair work to the fortification walls was carried out only in the area of Kunya-Ark at that time.
The sixth stratum was connected with a period of destruction. On the crest of the fortress walls Muslim burial-mounds appear. According to Muslim burial rules, funeral chambers were built with raw bricks (22-24x23-23x3-4.5 cm). Burial chamber no. 2 has a floor of double slopes and burial chamber 3 was re-covered with raw bricks (22-23x22x3-4 m) placed edgewise. Burial in wooden coffins occurred. Almost all the skeletons were found lying on their backs or on their right sides with their heads pointing west — the direction of the Kaabah. There is ceramic material from the seventh — fourteenth centuries in the earth used to fill the graves.
The seventh stratum featured walls, made from blocks of mud and covering the burial places, preserved to a height of 0.52-0.72 m. and 1.1-1.4 m. in thickness. These walls are located on the external western side of Ichan-kala, parallel to its modern walls. In the layer containing the ruined walls, pieces of ceramic and copper coins from the eighth — fourteenth centuries were found. Six rooms 2.1x6x3-4.5 were discovered, as well as the surface of a yard. Its adobe walls were preserved to a height of 22-43 cm. In rooms four and five; a system of internal heating similar to the Chinese khans was found. In the upper layers of room five, an unknown copper coin with the Khorezm stamp from the fourteenth century was found as well as a Jagataid copper coin from the second half of the eighth century. In the southeastern corner of the excavation the remains of a potter's kiln were also found.
The eighth stratum revealed the ruins of the walls of two rooms and a well. The walls of the rooms were built from burnt bricks of 27-28x25-29-4-5 cm in size and preserved to a height of 37 cm and a thickness of 72 cm. The upper part of the well was built with burnt brick 24-28x25-30x3-5 cm. The well was filled with rubbish containing pieces of ceramic from the fourteenth — sixteenth centuries. In section 13 of the excavation, Q.A. Fyodrov-Davydov discovered silver coins with the Khorezm stamp from 1500/1501.
The ninth stratum was separated from the lower layers by rubble 1.1-1.2 m thick. Four rooms and the surface of a big yard can be observed. Various materials were found there, from pieces of ancient ceramics to ceramics and bricks from the nineteenth century. According to the excavation data the fortress walls of Ichan-kala were restored during this period. Towers intended for straight and flanking rifle fire strengthened the walls.
In the tenth stratum, the walls, 7-9 m. in height, 1.5-2 m. thick and built from mud, were strengthened by tall oval towers with battlements on top. The inside housings had been strengthened with wooden beams. Preserved coins from the time of Emperor Paul I (1801) and pieces of china cups with the markings of the Gardner and Kuznetzov plants were found within the fortress wall. In the northwestern corner of excavation 2 (10x14 m.), fire-building foundations were discovered.
Excavation 2. The first stratum: In the northern section of the excavation only, a 3-9 m. thick sub-soil cultural layer was discovered. According to the building plan there was a square tower 11.5x11.5 m. in size. The size of the house in the tower was 2.35x2.9x2.2 m. It was built with pieces of raw brick and the seams were filled with large-grain sand. Ceramic material belonging to the first horizon was discovered in the deposited layer. An additional wall of about one meter in thickness and preserved to a height of 0.75-0.88 m. stretched along the western facade of the fortress wall, parallel to the main wall. The width of the space between the fortress and the additional wall covered by a layer of sand was 3.4-4 m.
The second stratum. The wall of the lower stratum was built with raw bricks to a thickness of 1.8-1.9 m. The inside of the tower chamber was built in the same way.
The third, fourth, fifth, and sixth strata were not found, although pieces of ceramic from the seventh — eighth and twelfth — thirteenth centuries A.D. were found.
The seventh stratum revealed the remains of domestic hearths. In the southern section of the excavation the living area and a hearth with a diameter of 49 cm. was discovered. Pieces of gray ceramic and animal bones, 9-11 cm thick, were seen in the ash and humus layer. Grain pits were cut into the ancient wall of the fortress. A porridge bowl from the thirteenth — fourteenth centuries and pieces of pottery and grain grinders were extracted from one out of them. The eighth stratum was not found.
The ninth stratum. The adobe and raw walls of the fortress were preserved to a height of 5-6 m. Nineteenth century walls covered them. The cultural stratum of 0.27-0.43 in thickness contained pieces of ceramic and animal bones. The tenth stratum. The walls of Ichan-kala were built from adobe 7-9 m. in height on both sides. In the eastern sector of the excavation was a dwelling area. Ceramics from the eighteenth — nineteenth centuries 0.82-1.1 m in thickness were discovered in the cultural layer.
Excavation 3, covering an area of 5x37 m., was done in the southeastern corner of Ichan-kala.
The first stratum. As in the case of excavations 1 and 2, the foundation of the wall and towers of this ancient period was also discovered. Towers were rectangular (5.5x7.3 m.) in shape. The lower part made of mud 1.1-1.2m., in height, stood on sandy soil. There was also a deep layer of raw brick (41-44x40-45x10-14 cm). The rooms (3x2.3 m.) in the tower on the foundational level were built from raw brick and filled with sand. A piece from a jug from the middle of the first millennium B.C. was discovered here. The fortress walls in the southeastern corner were uncovered for a length of eight meters.
The second stratum was 13-22 cm thick. The thickness of the outside walls was increased by 0.75-1.25 m. to a total thickness of 3 m. The portion of the wall that was added was 0.65 m. higher than the foundation.
The third stratum featured ruins of the wall, made from raw brick 36-39x37-39x7-9 cm thick and 0.42 cm in height. A square castle (1 1.5x 1 1.5 m) covers the ruins of the earliest buildings erected in the southeastern corner of Ichan-kala during that period.
The fourth stratum was not discovered.
The fifth and sixth strata are revealed several Muslim burial mounds.
The seventh and eighth strata could not be found.
The ninth strata included hearth remains.
The tenth strata. The old walls of the fortification were replaced with new adobe walls on both sides. A gallery 2-3 m. wide with a parapet across the front 2.5-3 m. high, with battlements and narrow slits was erected on the fortress wall.
Excavation, covering an area of 136 sq. m. was done in the northeastern corner of Ichan-kala. The fortress walls and towers belonged to the first strata. The walls were built from raw square bricks. An outside fortress wall, 7 m. long, 2 m. thick and 2.5 m. high, was uncovered here. The thickness of the tower walls was 2.61-2.75 m. and the width of the passage between them was 0.8 m. The inside floor level of the tower house was filled with large-grained gray sand which was covered with a number of raw bricks with marks. Uncovered on the floor of the house were pieces of a red clay handle of a jug in the form of a lion's head.
The second stratum. The inside tower houses were built from raw bricks and the level of the floor rose to 2.4 m. The outer sidewalls of the tower were built with raw bricks on one level to a thickness of 2-3.5 m. Thus, the lower section of the wall had been widened as a result of which the inner-wall corridor was raised. It was later found that during the erection of the wall in the seventeenth century, all the preserved remains of the building were pulled down. The seventeenth — nineteenth century cultural layers of the excavation appeared to be eroded and it was difficult to sort the strata. However pieces of the walls and vessels of the tenth-fourteenth centuries were found in light green condensation.
The ninth stratum. The ancient walls are filled with gray lumps of clay. A new defensive wall had been erected with oval towers protruding beyond the fortress wall by 6-8 m. A room found here was 3x4 m. The walls were built from burnt bricks of 23-28x23-29x3-4.5 cm. The floor of the house was coated with straw and clay. In the southwestern corner, there was a deep pit in the floor with a diameter of 28 cm. The sidewalls were built with half-burnt bricks.
The tenth stratum. The walls and the towers of the city were built with abode consisting of lumpy clay and in some places of whole and broken raw bricks. The thickness was 1.5-2m.
Excavation 5 (9x10 m.) was made at the foot of the southern wall, 30 m. to the west of Tash-darbasa. In the first stratum, pieces of ceramic were found all over the area of the excavation. It was apparent the strata were difficult to determine. Data from the Kushan, Afrigid, that everything had been pulled down to foundational level. Because of repeated excavations Khorezmshah, and Golden Horde periods were found. It is therefore possible to speculate that these levels were completely destroyed while reconstructing houses, some time in the thirteenth — nineteenth centuries.
Excavation 6, covering an area of 60 sq. m. was carried out at the foot of the western wall for a distance of 105 m. to the north from the south-western corner of Ichan-kala. It was discovered that the lower section of an earthen wall consisted of the remains of the two walls from excavation 5. The ruins of a rectangular tower were found, 7 m. wide, preventing approach to the western part of the town. According to the excavation materials it is clear that sand was widely used.
From archaeological research, historians have been able to more clearly delineate and describe the distinct periods in the history of Khiva. The first two periods witnessed its settlement and fortification (sixth — third centuries, B.C.) and the first flourishing of its life, reaching into the present millennium.
Then, at the end of the fourth century, the town's fortifications were weakened. The same thing was observed on the site of the ancient towns of Burla-Kala, Tok-Kala and Koi-Krilgan-kala. The decline and gradual dying away of life in the towns of Khorezm at the end of the fourth century represented a crisis for ancient Khorezm.
Archaeological studies identified a period of revival around the sixth — eighth centuries. Keshks (castles) began to appear in the region of Khiva. Buildings of this type were very famous in the settled and agricultural regions of Khorezm. The ruins of this type of castle can be seen on Akshikh-bobo hill near Kunya-Ark. The same type of rectangular castle is located in the southeastern corner of Ichan-kala. The ruins of the castle consist of solid adobe, 6-7 m. in height, in the form of a truncated pyramid. The building was probably used for defensive purposes, but during peacetime it was used for storing provisions and other household goods since millstones made of sand, the remainders of grain (millet) and straw were found in the construction and on the plinth. From layers corresponding to these buildings, examples of various ceramics were taken — pieces of thick clay pots, pieces from water jugs with a flat narrow handle, and other artifacts from the Afrigid period. The prevalence of Zoroastrian notions during this period is borne out by the pieces of ceramic. The development of monetary relations is shown by silver coins- from the period of the reign of shahs Bravik and Shaushfan during the seventh — eighth centuries.
The absence of information about Khiva for the eighth century was probably the result of the ruthless destruction of cities and cultural monuments of Khorezm during the Kutaib b. Muslim's campaign to conquer Khorezm.
In the tenth century, Khiva, was incorporated into the Samanid Empire, and became part of the domain of Khorezmshah Mamnun. Mukhammed in 995. The dynasty of Mamnu-ids ruled Khorezm until 1017, when the Qhaznevids, who reigned from 1017 to 1034, conquered it.
This time was marked by the revival of Khiva — the rapid development of the city, its economy, craft and culture. Traces of this time were discovered in all the excavations and proved the considerable growth of Khiva, covering the whole Ichan-kala region and probably Dishan-kala as well. A manufacturing industry for glass, metal and ceramics developed. The Khiva potters were real masters as they made light, elegant ceramic vessels with extraordinary patterns. The vessels were covered with various rosettes, stylized leaves and shoots, and sometimes with portrayals of animals, birds and fish; Arabian script was often used in the decorations, wishing the owner well with moral proverbs and sayings.
According to Istarkhi (tenth century), Khiva was situated a day's ride from Khazarasp and the ancient capital of Khorezm — Kyat, and a four-day's ride from the capital city of that time, Qurgani. Many ariks and canals, the biggest of which was Khiva, the future Palvan-yab, irrigated the lands of Southern Khorezm.
According to Mukaddasi (975), «Khiva is a huge walled city situated on the edge of the desert next to a canal. There is a modern mosque with all the necessary amenities». At the same time, according to an anonymous geographical work from the tenth century called Khudud al-Alam, «Khiva is a small city, surrounded by a wall and belongs to Urgench». Q.A.Pugachenkova reconciled this seeming contradiction by positing that Muqaddas meant all of Khiva — including Ichan-kala and Dishan-kala — while the author of Khud al-Alam included Ichan-kala only. Thus, during the second half of the tenth century, Khiva apparently consisted of a citadel, fortified by the walls of Shakhristan (Ichan-kala) and an outlying settlement (Dishan-kala).
The end of the eleventh century marked a new period in the history of Khorezm. In 1077 it was taken over by the Anushteginid dynasty, which established a large Muslim state under Khorezmshahs Ala ad-Din Tekesh (1172-1 200) and Ala ad-Din Mukhammed (1200-1220). At this time the city started to flourish anew. Amongst the ruins are the coins of Khorezmshahs Tekesh and Mukhammed, pieces of gray ceramics: large clay pots, small clay pots, jugs, bowls, pots, and irrigation ceramics. The city began to spread and new settlements outside Ichan-kala began to appear. Many materials of the Khorezmshah period were found on the Sha-Qalandar-bobo site and in the area of hotel Khorezm. The settlement of Shah-i-Mardon appeared to the west, and the materials of its houses have found in the excavations.
A geographical dictionary by Yakut contains information about Khiva for the first half of the thirteenth century: «Kheivyak or Khivak is a fortress city in the region of Khorezm. The distance between Khiva and the capital of Khorezm (Urgench) is about 105 km. The inhabitants of Khorezm call it Khiva. According to Misba it is Khivaki. The inhabitants of this city are shafiits, in contrast to those of all the rest of the cities of Khorezm, whose inhabitants are called khanifits».
There were a few famous Khivans in this period. One of them was Shihab ad-din Abu Sa'd b. Imran al-Khivaki, a jurist, mufti of the ash-Shafi school, a scholar, and an outstanding public figure of the Khorezmshah state. He created a library in Urgench «the likes of which had not been seen before or after.» The Mongols executed Shihab ad-Din Al Khivaki when they seized the city of Flisa; he was buried there in the sepulcher of Ali Jafta.
The famous Sufi, sheikh, imam, and founder of the Order of al-Kubraviya, Abu-1 Jannab Ahmad b. Umar Mukhammed al-Khivaki (better known as Hajim ad-Din Kubra, 1145-1221), died during the capture of Khorezm by the Mongols. A mausoleum in honor of Majim ad-Din Kubra is in Kunya-Urgench.
At the beginning of the thirteenth century, Khiva was almost completely destroyed during the Mongol invasion, as were the other cities and towns of Khorezm. Although there are no references to it in written sources, the fortress wall of Ichan-kala was destroyed, and it was turned into a burial place.
According to the author of Iskandar's Anonyma, Chinghiz-khan gave Khiva to Chigatay and the rest of Khorezm to Juchi, who recorded that 'Amir Khusain Sufi, amir Budagay's son collected taxes from Kyat and Khiva unjustly; they belonged to Chighatay's sultans in ancient times». In the 1360s through 1380s, Khiva belonged to the Kungrad Sufis, until Amir Temur ended their reign.
Muhammad-Amin the inak ruled over them. He began ruling the state on behalf of the king's son, Chinghizids, who gradually lost his influence. At Mukhammad Amin inak's initiative, puppet khans were enthroned and dethroned in majority of cases they were brought from the steppe. The eye-specialist, Blankennagel, who came to Khiva to treat a blind Khiva khan (the treatment was not successful) noted that a puppet khan showed himself to the people only three times a year, and the rest of time he was kept locked away, suffering deprivation of the most necessary things. Yakov Petrov reported the same thing from Orenburg, who served as a slave in Bukhara and Khiva from 1787 to 1819: The khan has only the name of Khan. He is not allowed to take up his duty.
The grandson of Mukhammad Amin inak, Eltuzar (1804-1806), officially accepted the title of khan in 1804 and became the ancestor to the Kungrad dynasty (1763-1920), a dynasty that ruled the Khiva Khanate until 1920. Mukhammad Amin inak led a successful fight against the rulers of small independent territories. He promoted the union of dispersed regions into one state with a capital in Khiva.
Mukhammad Amin inak efficiently used Turkmen tribe leaders of yomuts and choudors in his policy. He led them to Khiva, gave them privileges, and later dealt with them brutally.
The dynastic struggle and feudal wars affected the life of people in Khiva. Many of them had to leave the city. Mukhammad Amin, after defeating his enemies, began strengthening the country. «The state was put into order, and the population began living quietly» under his reign, noted the Firdaus alkbal, «At that time starvation was done away with, the time of low prices came, and one could buy one grown sheep for two yarmaks, and for a dinar one could buy forty batmuns of wheat or sixty batmuns of corn by the Khiva weight». Under his reign many things had been done concerning irrigation. It contributed to the promotion of agriculture and to the settling of nomads and semi-nomads. By order of Mukhammad Amin inak many dilapidated buildings were repaired, and the destroyed city walls of Khiva were reconstructed.
Under Mukhammad Rahim (1806-1825) a further unification of isolated, half-independent principalities into one united state took place. The domestic affairs were also more closely regulated under him. Mukhammad Rakhim organized and headed Supreme Council to discuss important state issues. It consisted of higher dignitaries and representatives of the Uzbek tribes. Mukhammad Rakhim carried out a tax reform and introduced customhouses. Under him gold and silver coins were minted, which contributed to the widening of economic relations between Khiva and other regions. Under Mukhammad Rakhim's son, Alia-Kuli-khan, the Khiva Khanate widened its limits considerably.