Modern history of Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan is unique.

It is situated in the heart of Central Asia, in the crossroad of cultures, languages, traditions and historical migrations. Uzbekistan is situated in the area which was once occupied by Great Kingdoms of Sogdiana, Bactria and Khorezm. These kingdoms were founded by migrating indo-iranian tribes in the 2nd millennium BC who spoke languages related to modern Persian and Tadjik languages.

The earliest settlements (proto-cities) on the territory of Uzbekistan date back to the Bronze Age when due to historical processes settled farmers started splitting from nomadic stockbreeders and protective walls were constructed to ward off the offences by nomads.

Later in the 1st millennium BC, Central Asia was subdued by Persian Kings of Akhemenid Dynasty and their rule lasted for nearly 200 years. Persian chronicles preserved the data and even the images of defeated kings were carved on the rocks in the area known as Pasargadae in modern Iran. For nearly 200 years Sogdiana, Bactria and Khorezm were part of the great empire stretching from India in the east to Mediterranean Sea in the west.

In 329 BC the last king of Akhemenid Dynasty – Darius was defeated by Alexander the Great. Following him Alexander crossed Amudarya and invaded Bactria and Sogdiana. Though he was welcomed in the beginning as a hero soon he started aggressive policy of conquest and changed the role of a savior to the one of a conqueror. The resistance was tough and it took him two years to secure his rule in Sogdiana and Bactria. His conquest started the Hellenistic Period in Central Asia which lasted for 300 years as Greco-Bactrian period and later influenced Kushana Kingdom with their majestic Gandhara Culture. For nearly 300 years Greek remained as court language and cities of Hellenistic order were built on the territory of modern Uzbekistan and Afghanistan.

The following period was marked by invasions of by nomadic Huns followed by first waves of Turkic speaking migrants from South Siberia and Altai region of modern Russia and Mongolia. These migrations on the turn of millenniums brought the first Turkic speaking elements into territory of modern Uzbekistan, creating a base for modern Uzbek nation and language by ways of intermarriages and fusion. Following waves of Turks in the 4th century resulted in the formation bilingual, multiethnic society which inherited the best features of both ethnic elements – mobility of the Sun worshipping Turks and business acumen of Zoroastrian Sogdians.

By the 7th century AD the Sogdians were the most active traders on the Great Silk Road. Their trading colonies were built along the trade route from Xian to Constantinople. The Chinese chronicles of Tang Period give us very precise info about Sogdians, their merchandise and the wonders like Golden peaches from Samarkand, acrobats, musicians and famous Heavenly Horses presented to Tang court by Sogdian merchants. The same trade routes transported Buddhism and Nestorian Christianity to the East.

In 674 AD for the first time the Arab army crossed Amudarya River and invaded the oasis of Bukhara. In the following fifty years Arabs defeated the locals Kingdoms Sogdiana, Bactria and Khorezm and subdued Central Asia to Arab Khalifat establishing their power and Islam. The new territory they called Mowarounnahr and it was one of the richest provinces. Islam became the dominating religion, fire worshipping was banned and local priesthood was eliminated.

The centralized power of Arab Khalifat which stretched from Spain to India and Africa to China, made possible the cultural, economic and scientific contacts between all nations of Islamic state. In the following centuries some of the most important and known scholars of Islamic world were born in Mowarounnahr, namely Abu Rayhan Beruny, Al Khorazmy (Algorithmy), Ibn Sino(Avicenna) and many others. They had the opportunity to travel to Baghdad, Damascus, Cairo, Cordoba, Dehli and study the scientific heritage of ancient Indian, Greek and Roman scholars and philosophers. As a result of it the best Academies of Sciences of Medieval World were open in Samarkand, Bukhara and Urgench. Politically the period was turbulent.

In 888 AD Ismail Samani, the governor of Mowarounnahr, managed to acquire independence from Bagdad, establishing Samanids Dynasty. In 999 the last Samanid ruler lost to invading Turkic speaking Karakhanids who ruled from Bukhara until 1212 AD and lost to Khorezmshah Mukhammed.

The Mongol attack in 1219 AD happened due to arrogant policy of Khorezmshah who slaughtered the Mongol envoys and Mongol caravan.

Chinghiz Khan – the Ruler of Mongol State, had no mercy to population and flourishing cities of Mowarounnahr. Cities were robbed, plundered and burnt to ashes. Artisans, women and children were taken for slavery and the rest were killed. The Mongol conquest was disastrous and left only a quarter of former population alive.

During the Mongol period the territory of modern Uzbekistan was part of domains of Chagatai – the son of Chingiz Khan. The revival of the country started after 1370, during the rule of Timur (Tamerlane) and his descendants. This charismatic leader of Barlas tribe rose to prominence after defeating the Mongol Khans and announcing himself the ruler of Mowarounnahr. In the following 35 years Amir Timur held victorious campaigns against Ottoman Turkey, Golden Horde, India, Egypt and managed to create one of the biggest Empires in the history. All the wealth and the best artisan from countries conquered he brought to Samarkand – his grand capital. During his rule Samarkand acquired the title of the best city on the earth and some of the former grandeur - mausoleums, mosques - one still can see in Samarkand.

In the 16th century Timurids lost the throne to Shaybanid clan from the northern steppes and Shaybanids shifted the capital to Bukhara. Their period of rule was the last sample of grandiose construction work and extensive trade of Central Asia with Russia, India and China, when famous Abdulla Khan II built up his capital Bukhara with covered bazaars, madrassahs and caravan sarays for merchants.

The following period of more than 200 years was marked by decline in all aspects of life due to diminishing international trade by land and internecine struggles of local khans of Kokand, Bukhara and Khiva.

It ended up by defeat and conquest of Tashkent by Russians in 1865 for Khan of Kokand and defeat of Khan of Bukhara in Zirabulak in 1867. Khiva was subdued in 1873. They all had to recognize Russian protectorate and became vassal states. Kokand Khanate was dissolved in Turkestan General Governorship in 1876.

In 1918 as a result of Bolshevik plot Turkestan became Peoples Republic until 1924.

Finally in 1924 there was held delimitation of Soviet Republics and Uzbekistan Soviet Republic was established on the territories of former Turkestan Republic, Bukhara, Kokand and Khiva Khanates. In 1991, on 31st of August Supreme Council of Uzbekistan declared Independence.

Since then Uzbekistan is independent and part of CIS.

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