Afrosiab - the heart of Ancient Samarkand

 The ancient core of Samarkand is located on the Afrasiab hill, named after the legendary Turanian king. The settlement aroused in the 8th - early 7th centuries B.C. and occupied more than 200 hectares. River bluffs in the north and east and deep ravines in the south and west protected it. At the Achaemenids the city was encircled with a massive wall having internal corridor and towers. Scholars identify Afrasiab with ancient Sogdian capital- Marakanda destroyed in the 4th century B.C. at Alexander the Great.

Samarkand revived again in the 4th-8th centuries when the Great Silk Road became the most significant Euroasian trade route. Samarkand had become the strongest of Sogdian principalities. In the 5th-7th centuries it was under the power of the Hephthalites and Turks. In the 7th-8th centuries Samarkand recognized supremacy of Chinese Tang dynasty. Four lines of new walls were built around Samarkand in that period. Zoroas-trian, Buddhist and Christian temples were constructed. The wall paintings in the royal palace survive to this day. In the 8th century the Arabs headed by Quteiba conquered Samarkand.

Since the 9th-10th centuries, Samarkand became a cultural center of the Islamic East and the first capital of the Samanids. Ruins of the Samanid palace with carved panels were found in the western sector of Afrasiab. In the 9th-10th centuries the inner city occupied 220 hectares. The suburb with markets, mosques, baths and caravansaries adjoined it in the south. The city had lead water supply. Manufacturing of Chinese paper was developing. Numerous workshops using water mills aroused on the banks of the Siab.

At the 11th-13th centuries Samarkand became a capital of the western Qarakhanid state. It was newly walled. A palace of the Qarakhanids was built in the citadel. The tomb of Kusam ibn Abbas became a cultic place where mausoleum was built. At the beginning of the 13th century Khorezmshah ad took Samarkand and built a new palace instead of the Qarakhanids'. However, the state of Khorezmshahs was soon conquered by the Mongols. Chinggis-khan took Samarkand after short siege. The city suffered much due to Chinggisid internal wars in the second half of the 13th century. Afrasiab has been finally deserted.