The beautiful Central Asian country of Uzbekistan is really old stretching back multiple millennia. The history of this country is the history of bloody conquest and rebellions, rise and fall of numerous dynasties, and lastly the history of iconic cities and individuals who left their markings on world map and history.
The first inhabitants of Uzbekistan were the Iranian nomads. They settled in the fertile river basin along the rivers of this region and build an extensive irrigation system. During this, cities like Bukhara and Samarkand started to emerge as centers of government and culture. This epoch also saw the emergence of states like Bactrian, Sogdian, and Tokharian. The cities also grew in prominence after the opening of the Silk Road route that facilitated trade between China and the West. This led to the conquest of this region by multiple rulers including Alexander The Great who brought this region under his Macedonian Empire for a brief period of time.
During the eighth century AD, the regions of Uzbekistan got invaded by Muslim rulers who were primarily Arabs. They brought with them the Islamic religion which quickly spread in the region. Notwithstanding that, Central Asia successfully retained the Iranian characteristics and remained an important center of culture and trade for centuries following the invasion.
Turkification of Uzbekistan
The region saw steady influx of Turkic population into it in the ninth century. They lived in the grasslands stretching from Mongolia to the Caspian Sea and were brought in as slaves and soldiers to the Samanid Dynasty. Later these Turkic groups formed their own empires which saw the immigration of more number of Turks.
The turning point in the history of this region was the Mongol invasion headed by Genghis Khan. The conquest took place from 1291 to 1225 and the armies caused havoc in many of the cities. During his reign, he passed a law that only direct descendant of Chaghatai, his second son, can become emperors and control the area.
After the death of Genghis Khan, the dynasty remained firm for few generations but began to break up into constituent parts. One of the tribal chief, Amir Timur or Tamerlane, who was not a descendant of Chaghatai took advantage of this and formed his own empire that had a significant and lasting impact on Uzbekistan history. Tamerlane and his successors were responsible for creating much of the religious and palatial constructions in the region that you see today.
The gradual decline of Timurid dynasty after the death of Amir Timursaw the emergence of Uzbek nomads who were settled in the northern part of Aral Sea. By 1510, they were prevalent in Uzbekistan. They established the powerful Khanate of Bukhoro and Khanate of Khiva. These Khanates were continually raided by Mongols and Kazakh nomads which weakened its significance in the region.
After the rise and fall of various empires, Russians made their mark on Central Asia when they first appeared on scene at the beginning of the 18th Century. During the 19th Century, the Russian conquest of Central Asia started and powerful kingdoms like the Khanates came under their rule. Major population centers like Tashkent, Bukhoro, and Samarqand were captured too which made them more powerful. Even though the daily activity and religions of Central Asians remained unchanged, Russian culture grew significantly as the cities got industrialized and there was an influx of Russian and Ukrainian population. By 20th Century, the Russian Empire was in complete control of Central Asia and they formed the Soviet Socialist Republics (SSR), where the government of Uzbekistan was called Uzbek SSR.
Soviet leader Joseph V. Stalin was responsible for the division of Central Asia states of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan and continuous revolt and disruption.
Uzbekistan gained independence from the Russians on 1st of September, 1991under the leadership of President Islam Karimov and Uzbek SSR was subsequently renamed as Republic of Uzbekistan.
Today Uzbekistan is an underdeveloped, yet prospering, Central Asian country and is leading the way in terms of tourism. Kindly contact Minzifa Travels to book an Uzbekistan holiday tour today.