Samarkand:8th-13th Centuries

Having conquered Central Asian Interfluves, the Arabs called it Maverannahr – “The land beyond the river” that is “behind the Amu-Darya”. In the middle of the 8th century Omayyad’s yielded the Arabic Caliphate throne to the Abbasids – to the descendants of the Prophet’s uncle al-Abbas. The first Abbasids’ deputy was Abu Muslim. He married a sister of a noble Samarkand citizen and made the town his stronghold in Maverannahr. In 751-753 Abu Muslim built a new wall for Samarkand with loopholes and 360 towers. It embraced an area 30 times larger than the inner town (shahristan) on Afrasiab and included its southern suburbs (rabad) with bazaars, mosques, bathhouses and caravanserais. About 12 thousands households and castles came under protection of that wall.12 new gates were built in the places where the roads cut the walls. In the 9th-10th centuries Samarkand became a cultural center of the Islamic East and the first capital of the Samanids.

Ruins of the Samanids’ palace with carved panels were found by archeologists in the western sector of Afrasiab.  Large scale manufacturing of Chinese paper was developing and along the Siab river there were built lots of workshops using water mill energy. In the 11th-13th centuries Samarkand became the capital of the western Qarakhanid state. The rulers’ palace was erected in the citadel. The tomb of Kusam-ibn-Abbas became a cultic place where there was built a mausoleum. At the beginning of the 13th century Khorezm-shah Muhammad captured Samarkand and built a new palace, decorated with wall paintings instead of the Qarakhanids’. However the state of Khorezm-shahs was soon conquered by the Mongols. Chingiz-khan took Samarkand after a short siege. The city suffered much due to Chingizids’ internal wars in the second half of the 13th century. The ancient settlement of Afrasiab was finally deserted.

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© Marakanda Expedition, 2017 .