by Captain Mikhail TSIPORUKHA, retired
Still in the beginning of his reign (1690s) the Russian czar Peter I, otherwise known as Peter the Great, got down to the job bequeathed by his father, Czar Alexei Mikhailovich: "Build ships and navigate in the Caspian." From this inland sea Peter hoped to reach Central Asia and India.
WHERE IS AMU DARYA FLOWING?
But first, one had to make a map of the Caspian. And so in 1699 Peter I sent Captain Yeremei Meier there to do the job. Four years later, in 1703, the map was ready. But it was never published. As to the captain, he lost his life in 1705 during a mutiny of the streltsi corps at Astrakhan, just where the Volga empties into the northern Caspian. Most likely, the czar was not satisfied with the map as not precise enough and not conforming to the canons of reliable navigation. Still and all. Captain Meter's work became known in Europe and had some effect on the then nascent art of cartography According to Academician Lev Berg (1876-1950), an eminent Russian scientist competent in physical geography and biology in 18th century atlases "the contours of the Caspian Sea were taking more correct and regular forms, and that without prior knowledge of the surveys carried out in 1715 and in 1719-1720".
In May 1714 Peter the Great gave an order to Lieutenant-Captain Alexander Beckovich-Cherkassky of the Preobrazhensky Guards Regiment: make a new map of the Caspian's eastern shore and pinpoint the exact location of the Amu Darya's estuary (believed to be flowing into the Caspian). Now Captain Beckovich-Cherkassky was a Caucasian (Kabarda) prince reared in Russia... And as early as September 1,1714, Peter's envoy reported from Astrakhan: "...I enquired Astrakhan townsfolk about the river Darya - whence it flows, and where its mouth empties. I found people conversant with yond river which they call the Amu Darya. They say it is a no small river rising in India and flowing through the land of Bukhara and the land of Khiv ... Читать далее