The history of the exploration of Central Asia

The research history of Central Asia

Central Asia: the region and its researchers

For the first time Central Asia (hereafter CA) as a separate region was allocated by the German geographer and traveler, founder of General earth Sciences of Alexander von Humboldt (1841). This term he identified all the internal parts of the Asian continent, stretching between the Caspian sea in the West and a rather undefined border in the East. A more precise definition of CA gave another German geographer Ferdinand Richthofen, in fact, divided the region into two parts. Actually CA, Richthofen, covers the area from Tibet in the South to the Altai in the North and from the Pamir in the West to Khingan in the East. The Aral-Caspian lowland the Richthofen took to the transition zone. In the Soviet geographical tradition was carried out the separation of the whole Central Asian region to Central Asia (Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan) and Central Asia (Mongolia and Western China, including Tibet). The same approach has largely been preserved and in the 1990 – 2000‑ies.

CA studied by Russian expeditions in the nineteenth – early twentieth century, it is, strictly speaking, Chinese Central Asia – Mongolia, Western China (Chinese Turkistan) and Tibet . which was the part of the Chinese Empire. This region in English literature also often referred to as Inland or Mountain Asia ( Inner Asia , High Asia ).

The total area of CA is about 6 million sq. km. and its Surface form numerous gravelly or sandy plains, fringed or intersected by mountain ranges. Its topography CA is divided into three zones, stretching from West to East:

The beginning of a systematic study of CA put two trips in a region of the Tien Shan mountains – “Heavenly mountains– – in 1856 and 1857 P. P. Semyonov, better known as Semenov Tyan-Shansky (1827–1914). Semenov conducted the first comprehensive study of this mountain system, and its method was successfully used later in other Russian travelers.

The opportunity to organize expeditions in Central Asia the Imperial Russian geographical society received only after the conclusion between Russia and China, the Tianjin and Beijing treaties (1858 and 1860). Initially, however, it was a short drive for General acquaintance with the natural features of the areas near the Russian border (Mongolia, Manchuria). The era of big – many years – expeditions in Central Asia, covering their routes the vast territory in the mainland, began in 1870, when the N. M. Przhevalsky set out on their first journey through Mongolia and China.

The period of the most intensive research by Russian expeditions have on the 1870s – 1890-ies. The greatest contribution to the scientific development of the region has made a dazzling array of travellers – N. M. Przhevalsky, M. V. Pevtsov, G. N. On­TA­ning, G. E. Grumm-Grzhimailo, V. A. Obruchev, P. K. Kozlov, the discoverers and pioneers of many hard-to-reach areas of Central Asia. The initiator and organizer of all the expeditions to Central Asia, has always represented the Russian Geographical Society, founded in St. Petersburg in 1845.

N. M. Przewalski – the most outstanding Russian explorers of Central Asia. From 1870 to 1885 he undertook four major expeditions in Mongolia, China and Northern frontiers of Tibet. As a result of these travels were first studied in detail in fact then-unknown areas of the basin of the Tarim and North of Tibet and explored large areas of Central Asia. Przhevalsky was shooting more than 30 thousand km of traveled way and astronomically identified hundreds of heights and locations, giving the exact reference to the maps. In addition, he managed to collect extensive mineralogical, Botanical and Zoological collections.

He discovered and described a wild camel, wild horse – the Dzungarian horse (Przewalski’s horse) and other vertebrate species.

Scientific results of the expeditions of Przhevalsky set out in a number of books that give a vivid picture of the nature and characteristics of relief, climate, rivers, lakes investigated territories. Przhevalsky’s name was given the town on the shore of Issyk-Kul (Karakol), a ridge in the system of the Kunlun, a glacier in Altai, and a number of species of animals and plants opened by the traveler.

As an officer of the Russian army, Przewalski invariably traveled with a military convoy of Cossacks (Russians and Buryats), and the equipment of his expedition, along with the RGS, was also attended by military Department (General Staff), which thus had an opportunity to gather information about neighbouring to Russia countries.

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