The republic of Karakalpakstan is the northwest territory of Uzbekistan that includes a great number of monuments of history and culture. In antiquity and in the middle ages Karakalpakstan was a part of the ancient country of Khoresm, which is known under the names of Khwarizem and Chorasmia in ancient sources. The name of Khoresm remained as the name of the area and now it is considered as the Khoresm region of the republic of Uzbekistan. In addition to Karakalpakastan and the Khoresm region, ancient Chorasmia included the territory of the modern Tashauz region of Turkmenistan.
First inhabitants in Karakalpakstan appeared in the late Paleolithic abpout 160,000 years ago. Archeological evidence of this was found in the Ustyurt Pleateau in Barsakelmes. First archeologically recorded settlements of people in Karakalpakstan are known from the third and fourth milleniums BC, from Neolithic times. The first information about Chorasmia belong to the sixth century BC, the sources of which are ancient Greek authors and Persian inscription on rocks by kings of Iran from the Achaemenids dynasty. To fifth and sixth centuries BC belong the inscriptions on the rocks of Bekhistun and Naksh I Rustem, as well as the ones which ornamented the walls of the palaces of Achaemenid kings in Persepolis and they tell us about invasion of Chorasmia by the Achaemenids
In fourth and fifth centuries BC Chorasmia becomes an independent country. Urbanization , irrigation and handicraft began sustainably developing from that period in Khoresm. The First cities in Karakalpakstan appeared in the third through fifth centuries BC.
The Greek Macedonian invasion of central asia didn’t influence Khoresm, it remained independent. The evidence of diplomatic contacts between Alexander the great and Khoresm still exist. The work of Greek historian Arrian, the author of Anabasy (historical novel about Alexander’s wars) tells us when Alexander was in winter pasture in Baqtria 329-328 BC, Chorasmian king Farasman came to him accompanied by 1500 horsemen. Farasman offered Alexander military help in case the latter went to campaign against Amazon warriors. According to other sources, Farasman was an ambassador who was sent with a diplomatic mission to Alexander by Chorasmian king Fratafern. After Alexander’s death his empire became a place of numerous internecine wars and battles for government among his apprentices, however these collisions didn’t impact on Khoresm and the country went on prospering.
Meanwhile the nomadic tribes from the East began their movement to the west. A new and powerful Kushan Empire came into being from those tribes which completely settled in northern Afghanistan till the 1st century AD. Kushan kings began ruling the territories from Central Asia to India. It was the period of prosperity when trade developed and merchants travelled through Central Asia selling their goods brought from different parts of the world- from China to Rome and from the Baltic Sea to India.
After the collapse of the Kushan empire and its surrender to the Sasanids in Persia, Central Asia again faced invasions from the northern steppes. This time it faced the attack of Huns in the 4th century AD.
In the 6th century Turks replaced the Huns. From the beginning of Huns period till the end of the 10th century Khwarizem was under the rule of Afrigids which ceased to be after the Arab invasion in the 8th century, when Muslims army brought to the region a new and powerful religion – Islam.
Chinghiskhan’s troops accomplished mass killing of population, burnt the cities, ruined canals, destroyed villages and emptied the fields. The whole region turned into a deserted area again.
However, the places in on the western shore of the Amudarya were restored and during the Golden Horde government they turned into important centers of international trading.
In the 17th century several old irrigation canals were restored, and consequently new irrigation systems began to develop.
In 1924 the Karakalpak Autonomous region was formed in Kazakhstan SSR and then in 1932 it was changed into the Karakalpak autonomous republic in USSR. In 1936 the Karakalpak autonomous republic was merged with Uzbekistan and it keeps this status today.