Genghis Khan was here. Broken bones and pottery. Afrosiab, Uzbekistan
One of the best sites in Samarkand is away from the main tourist trail of Minarets, Madrasah and tombs,
the remains of Afrosiab. This was the original city that pre-dates modern
Samarkand. Described as ‘the most beautiful city in the world’ by a
contemporary, it was a major trading station on the Silk road. Once
occupied by Alexander the Great, it was destroyed by the violent Mongol
invasion force in March 1220, with over 100,000 inhabitants being put to
Afrosiab is located about 3KM east of the Samarkand Bazaar, in the parched hills surrounding the city, alongside the Tashkent kochasi road. There is a museum on site, which has some interesting remains uncovered in the Russian archaeological digs of the last century, as well as some good scale models to show the size of the city.
Walking out of the museum and turning right is where the adventure begins. Pass through a small gate, and then you are walking over the grass, mud and sand remains of the city. It must be an archaeologists dream to wander around the site. So little has
been excavated, and you are literally crunching pottery and sparkling
glass underfoot, which i tried to avoid, but there was so much it was
hard not to. This area pictured had recently been unveiled by rain and
storm flow, and in the layers can be seen different types of pottery
shards, coloured glass, and human bones. You can visualize the sudden
and dramatic end to a rich and colourful city established for over a
thousand years, by the Mongol hordes.
With a bit of investment so much could be uncovered and exhibited, yet being able to freely walk and explore Afrosiab, picking up and examining ancient artifacts, was one of my favourite experiences in Uzbekistan.
I spent hours wandering through the ancient city and I had it to myself. Long
may it remain off the beaten track.