The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Turkic) (1) An ancient valley in the deserts of northwestern Turkmenia, with a chain of solonchak depressions and lakes. Stretching from the Sarykamysh Basin to the Caspian Sea, the Uzboi is bounded by the Karakum on the northwest. The valley itself is about 550 km long, but the river channel, with all its meanders, measures 775 km in length. Most of the Uzboi is at elevations of less than 50 m; the western part is below sea level. The channel drops 75 m between the Sarykamysh Depression and the Caspian Sea. The Uzboi has the typical features of the bypass of an ancient stream, along which during ancient times the waters of the Amu Darya that fed Lake Sarykamysh would periodically run off into the Caspian. The shallow stretches of the dried-up stream are occupied primarily by solonchaks and salt lakes; fresh bodies of water, fed by groundwaters, are also encountered. The riverbed has scarps, remnants of former rapids. Terraces (four) typical of a river valley stretch along the channel. Saxaul thickets are found in the Uzboi, and tamarisk and reeds grow near the lakes. A major basin of subterranean freshwaters was discovered in the Lake Iaskhan region, and a water pipeline was built from there to Nebit-Dag. Deposits of various salts are found in the Uzboi riverbed.

Ancient authors (Herodotus) and medieval authors (Mukad-dasi, Hamdallah, Qazvini, Hafiz-i Abru, and Abul Gazi) considered the Uzboi River a branch of the Amud Darya that flowed into the Caspian. In the 19th and early 20th centuries many geographers and geologists, as well as the historian V. V. Bartold, studied the origin of the Uzboi River and the times during which it flowed. The Soviet scientists A. S. Kes’, S. P. Tolstov, and others have also studied the region. Archaeological studies were conducted in 1947,1950–54, and 1956. It was established that the runoff from Lake Sarykamysh flowed along the Uzboi to the Caspian Sea from about 4,000 to 1500 B.C. Numerous Neolithic sites, Bronze Age pottery, and sites dating from 700–500 B.C. have been found along its banks. The Uzboi dried up in the middle of the first millennium B.C. The caravansaries of the tenth to 13th centuries that have been found on the banks of the Uzboi along the caravan route from Khwarazm to Khorasan were supplied with rainwater collected in large man-made reservoirs.

(2) The name given to river channels in the deserts of Middle Asia that have no flow or flow only for short periods.


Tolstov, S. P. Po drevnim del’tam Oksa i Iaksarta. Moscow, 1962.
“Nizov’ia Amudar’i, Sarykamysh, Uzboi: Istoriia formirovaniia i zaseleniia.” Materialy Khorezmskoi ekspeditsü, fase. 3. Moscow, 1960.
Kes’, A. S. Rush Uzboi i ego genezis. Moscow-Leningrad, 1939. (Tr. in-ta geografii AN SSSR, fasc. 30)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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