• Issue
  • Apr 30, 2024

No Culture in a Dry World: Notes from the Aral Sea

A view of Chilpyk-kala, or the Tower of Silence, a 2,200-year-old Zoroastrian sky burial temple one hour from Nukus, Karakalpakstan. Photo by Kamila Rustambekova. Courtesy ACDF.


“When do we reach the sea?” my companion asks, clinging to the front seat of the car as it lurches in the tracks cut into the desert floor. Our guide, a Russian-speaking local from the Autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan in the northwest of Uzbekistan, gestures to the baked sands outside. “We are already in it.”