Toprak-kala (I–VI centuries A.D.) is located several kilometres south of the Sultan Uvays Dag mountain range. Scientists suggest that it was used as the residence of an Ancient Khorezm monarch during the antiquity period before the Afrigids dynasty came to power. The current location and shape of the monument give it its present name. The word toprak can be translated as a “big earth hill.”
The Toprak-kala Complex consists of the Settlement, the High Palace and the Northern Complex.
The Settlement has an area of 175,000 square metres (500 × 350 metres). Rectangular in shape, it is surrounded by fortified walls 8 to 9 metres high with a number of quadrangular towers. The settlement entrance is a complex structure situated before fortress gates. A central street (9 metres wide) that went through the whole city connected the entrance with the citadel. A hearth niche found in the fire worshippers» temple was full of pure cinder and ash. During excavations, various adornments, including bracelets with curls shaped like ram horns, glass vessels, fragments of gypsum statues and gold leaf pieces were found in another building.
The High Palace. The main part of the palace is in the form of a truncated pyramid and is built of earth bricks. Its facades were decorated with a number of vertical setbacks and niches. Approximately 100 rooms were partially preserved through the centuries. They were used as places for ablution, chancery and armoury. Upstairs there were sanctuaries with altars and niches for funeral worship.
The major part of the palace contained a complex of ceremonial rooms and sanctuaries. Some walls were decorated with paintings, while the others in five halls were adorned with clay bas-reliefs with polychromic colouring. Only a small part of the former decorations have reached our time. In the sanctuary of the King's Hall a flame burned behind big sculptures of 23 Khorezm Shahs. The “Victory Hall” was adorned with bas-reliefs of shahs who sat solemnly on the throne, and a pair of soaring goddesses. They depicted a moment when rulers were presented with an insignia of imperial dignity. A “Hall of Black Warriors” had a bas-relief of shahs in niches. Small figures of black warriors were trumpeting and praising the kings» deeds. A “Deer Hall” was decorated with figures of these gracious animals and a ledgement of gryphons above them. The ornament is believed to have conveyed a cycle of life in the kingdom of plants and animals. A “Hall of Dancing Masks” designed to perform mysteries has partially-preserved images of dancing men and women on its walls. The main niche apparently had a depiction of the great goddess with a predatory beast. The other two large niches may have contained the god companions. In the centre of the hall was an altar’s podium.
The most important findings were ancient Khorezmian documents. Receipts of various items and food products were written on leather rolls. Some of them had precise dates, the latest are 188 and 252 years of the Khorezmian era (the beginning of the I century A.D.). Documents on wooden plates listed bodied (or able-bodied) men (both free and slave) who were part of several Khorezm families.
The Northern Complex is a group of buildings located outside Toprak-kala settlement, approximately 100 metres north of the Palace. The Complex area is about 12 hectares. One of its buildings consists of 50 rooms with multicoloured paintings in a form of ornaments on a black and white background, big and small rosette images, flowers, as well as the remnants of sculptures depicting the lower legs and the hem of a dress. A number of Kushan coins dating back to the rule of Vima-Kadfiz and Khuvishka and a golden head of a lion and an alabaster form for manufacuturing bas-relief, were found here.