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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the site of an ancient fortified town located 40 km west of Bukhara, in the Uzbek SSR. The site covers an area of 100 hectares; artifacts have been found in a layer with dimensions of up to 10 m. Archaeological excavations at Varakhsha began in 1937 and were continued from 1947 to 1953 by V. A. Shishkin. A settlement arose there in ancient times; it reached its highest point in the seventh and eighth centuries and continued to exist until the 11th century. In the southern part of Varakhsha rise the fluted walls of a citadel and to the west is a palace made from sun-dried brick. The walls of some of the rooms in this palace are covered with murals from the seventh century showing battle scenes, hunting scenes, and so forth. Particularly striking are colorfill scenes of kings or heroes seated on white elephants and fighting against fabulous beasts (white and yellow griffins). Parts of the palace, erected in the eighth century, are decorated with patterns and with human and animal figures that have been carved in the alabaster plaster. The finds at Varakhsha attest to the great artistic abilities of the ancient Sogdians, in whose art local elements are combined with ancient classical traditions and with traits of the Buddhist art of eastern Turkestan, Bamian, and Gandhara.


Shishkin, V. A. Varakhsha. Moscow, 1963.


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