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20141001_Uzbekistan_0697 Samarkand | by Dan Lundberg
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20141001_Uzbekistan_0697 Samarkand

Tile work inside the Shodi Mulk Oko Mausoleum built in 1372 in honor of Tamerlane’s sister Turkon Oko and her daughter Shodi Mulk Oko.


Shah-i-Zinda is an avenue of mausoleums at the center of which is the grave of Qusam ibn-Abbas, Shah-i-Zinda (Living King), a cousin of the Prophet Mohammed who brought Islam to Central Asia in the 7th century. Although some of the buildings are from the 11th century or are as recent as the 19th century, the bulk of the necropolis dates back to the 14th and 15th centuries. The site has recently undergone extensive restoration.


Samarkand was probably founded in the 5th century BCE. In 329 BCE it was conquered by 27-year-old Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE). Beginning in the 6th century CE it became a central Silk Road trading point growing even more populous than it is today before its destruction in 1220 by the Mongols led by Ghengis Khan. In 1370 Tamerlane (Timur the Lame; 1336-1405) made Samarkand his capital which blossomed into an economic, cultural, and intellectual center. At the start of the 16th century the Uzbek Shaybanids gained control of the region and moved the capital to Bukhara sending Samarkand into decline, culminating in virtual abandonment after a series of earthquakes in the 18th century. Forced repopulation by the Emir of Bukhara began a recovery that greatly accelerated with the takeover by the Russians in 1868. In 1888 the Trans-Caspian Railway linked Samarkand to the Russian Empire. Samarkand became the capital of the Uzbek SSR in 1925 but was replaced by Tashkent in 1930. In August 1991 Uzbekistan declared its independence.


Samarkand–Crossroads of Cultures became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001.


[The term ‘Silk Road’ was coined in 1877 by German geographer Ferdinand von Richthofen. The Silk Road contributed not only to the exchange of goods and technologies, but also to the mutual enrichment of cultures and traditions of different peoples. Direct maritime trade between Europe and the Far East ultimately supplanted the overland route.]


On Google Earth:

Shah-i-Zinda (avenue of mausoleums) 39°39'42.11"N, 66°59'16.61"E

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Taken on October 1, 2014