Uzbekistan History, History of Uzbek people, History of Uzbekistan

A new type of human being - the Neanderthal man - appeared in Central Asia at the Palaeolithic Age (about 100 - 40 thousands years BC). At that period the human had settled down almost throughout the territory of contemporary Uzbekistan. The ancient Palaeolithic sites had been found in Surkhan-Darya region, in Kashkadarya, Fergana and Tashkent province. The burial of a Neanderthal boy had been discovered in the Teshiktash grotto - a striking illustration of presence of some religious beliefs at that time.

The Early Palaeolithic Age (40 - 12 thousands years BC) was a period of modern human being formation - the Cro-Magnon man. At that time the natural habitat of man extended, community flat sites appeared and the quantity and diversity of tools incereased. Stone had become a main material for manufacturing of tools. People started occasional making fire by means of friction.

Rock paintings found in Zarautsay (Surkhan-Darya province) were done in red mineral paint (ochre) and are attributed to the Mesolithic Age (13 - 5 thousands years BC).

By the Neolithic Age (5 - 2 thousand BC) the process of tribe formation had completed and as a result first human families appeared. Archaeological excavations at the site of Djanbaz Kala (Bukhara region) have revealed the remains of large oval-shape dwellings and brass articles of that time.

The Bronze Age has seen exuberant growth in agriculture production unseen before. This had become possible due to human‘s bringing of irrigation farming into use. 

At the Iron Age the iron metallurgy had become widely spread on the territory of the Southern Uzbekistan and the development of irrigated farming continued. All these factors made for the settlements to become economically stronger.

At the middle of the First Millennium BC the process of class hierarchy formation sped up dramatically resulting in the advent of such ancient states as Khorezm, Sogdiana, Baktriana and Margiana. At the turn of our era first ever transcontinental caravan road (The Great Silk Road) was paved on from China to Mediterranean Sea.

From the middle of the 6th century BC Persian kings of Achaemenid dynasty have spread their rule over a number of states of Central Asia. Their dominance lasted till up to the second half of the 4th century BC when Alexander the Great had conquered the territory of modern Uzbekistan.

The demise of the Great Conqueror happened in 323 BC has resulted in numerous revolts as well as disputes among the Alexander‘s associates. And eventually on the bigger part of the territory of Central Asia the Seleucid Empire had formed than followed by the Greek-Baktrian Empire (Baktria) and the Parthia.

For the period from the end of the 1-st century BC up to the middle of the 4-th century AD Central Asia was a part of Kushan Empire This period is characterized by growth of numerous cities, strengthening of trade communications and development of crafts. The ruins of multiple monuments dated to that time still can be seen. At the archaeological site of Dalverzin-tepe monuments of Buddhists culture had been found to demonstrate a unique syncretic culture of Kushan-Baktrian times incorporating the elements of local ancient Baktrian as well as Hellenic, Saka-Scythian and Indian cultures.

The first written reference to the ancient state of Konguiy dates back to the Chinese chronicles of 2nd century BC. The main areas of this state were situated along the river of Sirdarya.

At the middle of the 5th century AC a mighty Kingdom of Hephtalites had established its rule over Central Asia. The new type cities such as Samarkand, Bukhara, Chach (Tashkent) and alike had started sprawling around the fortresses of local rulers.

The Hephtalite state had collapsed under the onslaught of Turkic tribes (nomads of Altai and Central Asia), which resulted in creation of the vast and amorphous Turkic Khanate. Ancient Turks introduced sophisticated system of taxation and succession of thrown. But interminable feudal strives eventually generated numerous invasions by foreign aggressors attracted with richness of Sogdiana, Bukhara and Khorezm.

In the 7th and especially at the beginning of the 8th centuries the Arabs armies commanded by Kuteiba Ibn Muslim had intruded to the territory of Central Asia. But only in 70 years after Arabs had managed to established their power on all of the territory of contemporary Uzbekistan (called by Arabs as "Mavarounnahr"). The Arabs drastically implanted Islam and eliminated all previous religious cults existed before (Zoroastrism, Manikheism, Buddhism and Nestorian Christianity). The process did not go smoothly causing a number of revolts against Arabs to break up. Most significant rebellion under the command of someone Mukanna had lasted in Sogd for more than 20 years (762-783 AD). Full dominance of Arabs in Mavarounnahr had only been established in the first half of the 9th century AD. 

Local Persian dynasty of Samanids had established its independent of Baghdad sway at the end of the 9th c AD. Strong and efficient centralised political system combined with well-organised powerful mercenary army had led to the stabilization of social, economic and political life in the area. This 120-year period, known under the name of "Muslim Renaissance", is characterised by massive construction of new irrigation canals, water reservoirs, intensive ore mining, smelting and trading development. Trading ties with different countries all over the Muslim world considerably expanded and strengthened at that time, many new urban centres, townships and villages appeared, copper craft, weaving and pottery trades developed. "Zandanechi Silk", "Samarkand paper" and "Shash pottery" had become brand names in all Muslim countries. Such great scientists and philosophers as Farobi, Ar-Razi, Avicenna, Beruni and Narshakhi lived and worked at that period.

By the of 11th century a mighty Turkic Kingdom Karakhanids emerged on the territory of Eastern Turkestan (Kashgar in China), which then expanded to include the adjacent regions such as contemporary Eastern Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan (without Khorezm).

In the 2nd half of the 10th century the Khorezmian State of Mamanids was successfully trading with Iran, Khazariya and Russia and continued to consolidate. Khorezm then was subdued by the Turkmen of Seldjukids (1044), then by Karakitays (middle of the12th century). Yet by the beginning of the 13th century the Khorezm state again had emerged on the political scene under the sway of Khorezmshah dynasty to become one of the largest kingdoms of the in East. Tashkent, Bukhara, Samarkand, Khorasan, Azerbaijan, EasternIrak, Western Iran - all this vast area was under control of Muhammad the Khoresmshah.

In 1219 the Tatar-Mongolian hordes of Genghis Khan invaded Mavarounnahr. In 1221 all territory of Central Asia fell prey to the might of Genghis Khan. "All men - into livestock, all settlements - into pastures" that was the motto of the nomadic khan that no one dared to resist. As a result hundred of towns were razed to ground, irrigation systems destroyed and abandoned, hundred of thousands of people enslaved or slaughtered. The rest had to buy their lives by paying enormous contributions to Mongols.

Central Asia has become part of Chagatay Ulus - the vast kingdom run by Chagatay, the son of Genghis Khan. By the middle of the 14th c AD the Mongol Empire has dissolved to a number of feudal possessions.

Taking the advantage of endless internecine wars, Amir Timur (1336-1405), the Turkified Mongol governor of Kesh area (present day‘s Shakrisabz) came to power in Mavarounnahr. He made Samarkand his capital in 1370. Firstly Timur (Tamerlane) had strengthened his absolute rule. He consolidated all the his territories remorselessly suppressing all the revolts. Having improved the domestic situation, in 1380 Timur started his permanent 25-years‘ military campaigns conquering Iran, Caucasus, Iraq, Syria, Asia Minor (Turkey) and Northern India. Timur`s Empire at that time was regarded as most vast and powerful state in the world. The huge amount of wealth that Timur had managed to accumulate was not wasted but, on the contrary, was used to improve the economic stance of his kingdom. It was at that time that his capital Samarkand was fully restored, renovated and marvellous monuments, orchards, palaces, irrigation canals and bridges built.

In 1405 during the preparation for a military campaign to China Tamerlane died and his huge state dissolved to several parts. The bigger part including Khorasan with its capital city of Great was governed by Shakhruh, the son of Tamerlane. And the smaller part including Mavarounnahr (the territory of the present Uzbekistan) Shakhruh entrusted to his son Ulughbek with the capital in Samarkand.

Under the Ulugbek‘s rule science and art flourished in Mavarounnahr. Best example of this is the construction of a unique astronomical observatory in Samarkand in 1429. However, orthodox Muslim clergy supported by feudal gentry were positioning themselves against Ulugbek`s cultural and scientific undertakings and eventually, skilfully playing on the antagonism and enviousity existed between Ulughbek and his beloved elder son Abdulatif, had organised a coupe and a murder of Ulghbek in 1449.

After the death of Ulugbek the state continued to decay and dissolved into several smaller parts. At the beginning of the 16-th century the Northern nomadic tribes led by Muhammad Sheibanikhan invaded Maverounnahr ousting the last Timurid ruler Babur from Maverounnahr. Bukhara had become the capital of the Sheibanid state. After some period of stability and economic development the Sheibanid state started gradually was coming to decline giving way to the dynasty of Ashtarhanids. By the beginning of the 18th century endless intestine wars resulted in emerging in Mavevarounnahr of three independent rivalling states: Bukhara Emirate, Kokand Khates (in Fergana valley) and Khiva Khanate (Khoresm). 

Three states of Bukhara, Kokand and Khorezm were continuously at war with each other for hegemony in Central Asia. At the 19th century the territory of contemporary Uzbekistan was actually divided between the three.

Each state represented a feudal monarchy with the Khan as king (in Bukhara - Emir). There was an orderly management system in place. All states divided into administrative provinces (viloyats) with local appointed rulers as heads (khakims and beks). The role of Islam had become dominating over all aspects of political, administrative and cultural life as well as everyday behaviour of subjects of the states. Islamic clergy exerted control over each and every sphere of activities of people. International economic ties of that time had become sluggish.

Each of the three state conducted its own isolationistic economic policy based predominantly on agriculture. But pottery making, weaving, arms making as well as handicraft production and primitive mining activities were conducted too. All three states were in brisk trading relations with India, Russia and Kashgar. Such products as hand woven cotton and silks (velvet, brocade), wool carpets, leather goods, cotton fibre and cotton yarn were items of steady demand for export from the countries. Despite endless internecine wars there was no such notion as unemployment as permanent irrigation system improvement and repair provided jobs. At this time the importance of cities in Mavarounnahr increased, towns were growing in number and population and the tendencies of former nomadic tribes to settle to sedentary life became stronger.

In the middle of the 19th century Central Asia has become a focus of two vastly expanding colonial empires: Russia and Great Britain. The strategically advantageous location of Central Asia has made it a bone of contest between the two giants. Central Asia was viewed as a huge commodity market, a source of cheap raw materials and labour. Attracted to this region, Russia has made its first ever attempt of conquering Khiva as early as under the Peter the Great in 1717.

At the beginning of the 1850th Russia started its persistent and systematic advancement deep into Central Asia. In 1847 the mouth of the river Sir-Darya and later in 1853 - the Kokand fortress of Ak-Mechet (nowadays Kizil-Orda in Kazakhstan) were subjugated by Russian troops of general Perovsky. Thus a powerful bridgehead for further advancement had been founded. But the Crimean War (1853-1856) deferred the aggression for some time.

In 1863 Pishpek (nowadays Bishkek) and later in the spring of 1864 the Kokand fortresses of Turkestan and Chimkent had been captured by Russians. Tashkent had been successfully stormed in 1865. One year later in 1866 after seizure of Khodjent, Ura-Tube and Djizzak Russian Tsar Alexander the Second had enacted the Behest to set up the Turkestan General Governoship of Russia in Central Asia. 

In 1873 the troops of all three states were smashed down and the Peace Accord with Russia concluded, under which Russia established its protectorate over the conquered territories. In effect all Central Asia had been colonised by Russia.

Immediately Russia had began implementation of its colonial ends, first of all developing of cotton growing industry for the sake of aggressively expending Russia‘s textile industry. Construction of Trans Caucasus Railway in 1888 as well Orenburg-Tashkent Railway, Fergana Railway had boosted that process up dramatically. By 1900, 171 industrial companies with Russian capital were set up in Central Asia such as ginning plants, creamery, winery and, partly, metal working shops. Most of them were backed up by Russian banking businesses that become flourishing and ludicrous at that time.

After the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia the power in Turkestan had been taken by Bolsheviks. The process of establishing Soviet power in Turkestan was accompanied by bitter strife of local Mujahitdins (Basmachis) led by warlords against Russian Soviet troops.

In 1918 the Independent (Autonomous) Turkestan Soviet Socialist Republic was proclaimed in Tashkent as a member of RSFSR (Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic). Its population at that time was 5.2 million.

By 1923 Soviet power was well established on the whole territory of the present Uzbekistan, but the struggle with the Basmachis (members of anti-Soviet movement in Central Asia) continued till the end of 1920th.

In 1924 the USSR had been constituted in Moscow and consequently the National Delimitation Law enacted to set boundaries for the Republics of Central Asia (the present boundaries of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan). Ever since Uzbekistan had became one of the republics of the Soviet Union.

The Soviet period in history of Uzbekistan continued from 1918 till 1991. For this time Uzbekistan turned into a modern state with well developed industry and agriculture, dozens of new towns, factory and other structures built.

After dissolution of the USSR in 1991 Uzbekistan was proclaimed an independent democratic republic. The first President of independent Uzbekistan has been Mr.Islam Karimov. 

Over the years of independence, Uzbekistan has become a full-bodied member of many important international political, economical and financial organizations and is paving its own way in the strife for economic reforms aimed at better future for its people. Since independence dozens of new business links were established between Uzbekistan and many developed countries all over the world. In 2001 Uzbekistan has become the only former SU country to bring its real GDP level up to the level preceding independence in 1991.

The multinational country of well-developed infrastructure, highly educated population and huge mineral wealth, with optimism, Uzbekistan sees its future in line with most developed industrial countries of the world.