Samarqand, Way Station Along The Silk Road
Samarqand, way station along the silk road, is an ancient city in Uzbekistan.
At the present day, the land-locked country of Uzbekistan is surrounded by the countries of Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. (Indeed, Uzbekistan has the distinction of being only one of two “double-landlocked” countries in the world, meaning that someone in Uzbekistan actually has to cross the borders of two countries before reaching the ocean.)
Samarqand, the second-largest city in Uzbekistan after the capital, Tashkent, was founded around 700 BCE. When the Han Dynasy in China came to pwer in 206 BCE, that country began exporting its goods – in particular silk – around the world, using a series of trading routes which eventually came to be called the “Silk Road.”
Traders would place their goods in wagons and set off across such countries as India, Persia (now Iraq), and Arabia, and then via the seas to the various cities of Europe. (Traders did not traverse the entire way, of course, but would sell their goods at waystations (sch as Samarkand), where a new group of traders would then continue on to the next way station to sell the goods there.
European goods would then make their way back along the “road”. In this way, towns grew up along the routes, trade flourished, and the various civilizations involved flourished.
Samarkand is a World Heritage City, not only because of its prominence along the Silk Road but also because of its many ancient mosques and beaituiful Islamic architecture. Marco Polo, in his book “The Travels of Marco Polo,” describes this city with fondness.
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- 12.25.11 / 12am