Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Monday, April 25th, Samarkand, Uzbekistan


Most westerners know about the rivers which originate in the Himalayas, and descend to the south into the Indian Sea.  When the lowlands of India and Bengaledesh flood, we can imagine the geography and general location.

Have you ever wondered what happens to the water from the snow and glaciers on the other side of the Himalayas?  The flow makes its way north and west and splits into two huge rivers through Central Asia for over a thousand miles, framing a large descending valley in which this civilization flourished, bisected by the Silk Road.

For three thousand years, it was hard to say anyone ruled this part of the world.  Nomadic lifestyles meant that few had anything to gain from fighting to protect or acquire land.  Extended family relationships may reach to another valley, but not much further.

But when Alexander the Great brought his empire east to its edges in 300 BC, he began to introduce the administration of lands and territories.  When Genghis Khan subjugated the area in 1100 AD, his governing strategies continued to define what ruling a large nomadic territory required.  In 1370, Tamarlane became the last of its great rulers, and he brought his own brand of management.

The structures we’re visiting this week mostly were built by Tamarlane, mostly destroyed a hundred years later by his successor leaders, and reconstructed by Russians in WWII and in the 1960s, or by Uzbekistan’s President in the last twenty years.  They have served in each era as calls to cultural greatness and religious dedication, and remind citizens of historical heroes and times of national sacrifice.

We’ve been impressed by the current state of the monuments, and the attendance by local and foreign visitors.  We’re getting a close look at Uzbekistan’s people, as they are of us.  Never have we experienced so many wanting to take their picture with us, or to practice their English-speaking skills.  Traveling to at least four sites a day, we’re amazed at the well-kept parks, city squares, and vibrant and modern businesses we see from the bus.

To see all the photos taken today, click on:
Monday, April 25th

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