Khorezm was an ancient civilization that thrived along the delta of the Amu Darya river from the 5th century BC through the Middle Ages. With Urgench its capital, Khorezm managed to keep its independence throughout Alexander the Great’s campaign and continued to thrive until the 13th century when it became part of the Golden Horde. Since then, a number of important monuments have been discovered throughout Karakalpakstan by various archaeological expeditions such as that of the well known led by Sergei P. Tolstov in the late 1930s.
These expeditions as well as contemporary small-scale archeological investigations sponsored by the Karakalpakstan Academy of Sciences and Australia’s University of Sydney have enabled a more thorough understanding of Khorezm’s civilization, explaining how it adapted and survived through the centuries. Today, Karakalpakstan hosts approximately 300 archaeological sites, including a number of desert castles, each in varying states of decay. In addition to the fortresses, the fortified town of Gul’dursun-kala and the royal residence of Toprak Qala are extremely significant historical and architectural structures created during the 2nd and 12th centuries A.D.