This is going to be my journey through Uzbekistan : Samarkand, Boukhara, Khiva, the Aral Sea, four spots that have been, at what time or another, important to the country.
As usual, let me go through the main national milestones, so that we both know better what we are talking about…
Name of this land : upper Amu-Darya and Syr-Darya. Different from the rest of Central Asia : more settled than nomadic, with patterns of land use and communality.
-1500 : Occupied by Scythes
-545 : Domination of the Achaemenid Empire (Persian, Cyrius the Great leads)
-330 : Alexander the Great wants to conquest the world: Suse and Persepolis (nowadays Iran), Babylone (Irak). He settles a new Alexandrie next to Kaboul (Afghanistan), walks on Samarkand and Boukhara… We will stop in the Indus Valley, finally understanding this wasn’t the end of the world. When he dies the empire is split in between his sons. Asia is given to the Seleucides dynasty.
-250 : Domination of Kouchans (from Afghanistan, Pakistan), vier Parthes (Iranians) and Huns (West of China)
+226 : The Sassanides Persians come back, eliminating Parthes.
+712 : As the byzantine (Turkey) and Sassanide empire have weakened, Islam can reach Central Asia more easily, coming from Arabia. Samarkand falls. Though, even though the Arabs bring Islam and a written alphabet to Central Asia but find the region too big and restless to govern.
1200 : Gengis Khan (Mongolia, Karakorum), conquers the continent
1370 : ONe of his descendants, Timur (Tamerlan) becomes an Emir and Samarkand becomes the capital city of his Empire. The city becomes a legend and Timur will become, until now, the national hero of Uzbekistan.
1500 : Fall of the empire. The silk road is jeopardized by sea roads. The region gets feudal. Khiva, Bukhara and Kokand are the three uzbek “khamats”.
1847 : Russia invades Uzbekistan. Later, russification will turn into sovietization, in spite of a revolution attempt lead by Amir Pacha in the 1920′.
Staline designs new boarders for the Central Asia Republics. We favorizes turc speaking countries overs iran speaking countries, Uzbekistan over Tatjikistan, creating ongoing tensions (Above : Hotel Oubekistan, in pure soviet style)
1991 : The 5 Central Asia Republics get independant
On Independence square, in Tashkent, you will find a statue of Timur and another of her, Mother of the Independence. Storks (cigognes) are another symbol of the country.
They symbolize peace. You can imagine how surprised I’ve been when, getting out of a mosque, a met four of them on the square !