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The silk road city of Samarkand
Samarkand (Greek: Marakanda) is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, prospering from its location on the (Silk Road) trade route between China and Europe. At times Samarkand has been the greatest city of Central Asia, and for much of its history it has been under Persian rule. Founded circa 700 BCE it was already the capital of the Sogdian satrapy under the Achaemenid dynasty of Persia when Alexander the Great conquered it in 329 BCE (see Afrasiab, Sogdiana). Under Sassanid Empire of Persia, Samarkand flourished and became one of the most important cities of the Persian empire. Under Abbasid rule, the secret of papermaking was obtained from two Chinese prisoners from the Battle of Talas in 751, which led to the first paper mill in the Islamic world to be founded in Samarkand. The invention then spread to the rest of the Islamic world, and from there to Europe (either through Spain or through crusaders). From the 6th to 13th centuries it grew larger and more populous than modern Samarkand and was controlled by the Western Turks, Arabs (who converted the area to Islam), Persian Samanids, Karakhan Turks, Seljuk Turks, Karakitay, and Khorezmshah before being sacked by the Mongols in 1220. A small part of the population survived, but Samarkand suffered at least another Mongol sack by Khan Baraq to get treasure he needed to pay an army with. The town took many decades to recover from these disasters. In 1370, Timur the Lame (Tamerlane) decided to make Samarkand the capital of his projected world empire, which extended from India to Turkey. For the next 35 years, he built a new city, populating it with artisans and craftsmen from all of the places he had captured. Timur gained a reputation for wisdom and generosity, and Samarkand grew to become the center of the region of Transoxiana. His grandson Ulugh Beg ruled the country for 40 years. In Samarkand, Ulugh Beg created a scientific school that united outstanding astronomers and mathematicians. He also ordered the construction of an observatory; it contained a gigantic but precision-made marble sextant with an arc length of 63 meters. Ulugh Beg is also founder of uzbek language and uzbek nation. In the 16th century,Shaybanids moved their capital to Bukhara, and Samarkand went into decline. After an assault by the Persian warlord Nadir Shah, the city was abandoned in the 18th century. In 1868, the city came under Russian rule, when the citadel was stormed by a force under Colonel A.K. Abramov (1836-1886). Shortly thereafter the small Russian garrison of 500 men were themselves besieged. The assault was led by Abdul Malik Tura, the rebellious elder son of the Bukharan Emir, together with the Bek of Shahrisabz, and the attack was beaten off with heavy losses. Abramov, now a general, became the first Governor of the Military Okrug which the Russians established along the course of the River Zeravshan, of which Samarkand was the administrative centre. It later became the capital of the Samarkand Oblast of Russian Turkestan, and grew in importance still further when the Trans-Caspian railway reached the city in 1888. It became the capital of the Uzbek SSR in 1925 before being replaced by Tashkent in 1930. (wikipedia)