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The Uzboy (sometimes rendered Uzboj) was a distributary of the Amu Darya which flowed through the northwestern part of the Karakum Desert of Turkmenistan until the 17th century, when it abruptly dried up, eliminating the agricultural population that had thrived along its banks. (It was a part of the ancient region of Dahistan).

Now a dry river channel and a center for archaeological excavations, the Uzboy flowed some 750 kilometres (470 mi), from a branch in the Amu Darya River via Sarykamysh Lake to the Caspian Sea. A riverine civilization existed along the banks of the river from at least the 5th century BC until the 17th century AD, when the water which had fed the Uzboy abruptly stopped flowing out of the main course of the Amudarya. The Uzboy dried up, and the tribes which had inhabited the river’s banks were abruptly dispersed, the survivors becoming nomadic desert dwellers.

In the early 1950s, construction work started to build a major irrigation canal roughly along the river bed of the former Uzboy. However, the project was abandoned soon after the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953; later on, Karakum Canal was constructed along an entirely different, much more southerly, route.


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