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The golden times of Central Asia during the Timurid era

Central Asia

The main topic of the lectures this week was the Timurid era, known as one of the golden ages of Central Asia. Amir Timur; historically known as Timur or Tamerlane, was born in Akbarnama in the 16th century. He wanted to be in power and claimed to be a descendant of Genghis Khan. Not only did he claim to be a descendant of Genghis Khan, but he also married one of his daughters to emphasize further a definite relation to the Great Khan’s lineage. Knowing the cultural and political values of Islam, he also claimed to be a descendant of Ali; the fourth Caliph of Islam. Thus, he not only had the political background and legitimacy to be a ruler; relating himself to Genghis Khan, but also gained high power from the religious aspect of being Ali’s descendant.

One of the reasons why the Timurid era is recognized by many, as a golden age in Central Asia is the massive construction of buildings and a significant advancement in science. An example of such renovations is the Madrasa; which became a dominant scientific institution. As mentioned in the lecture, many famous poets and scientists were recognized during this era, and their work is still appreciated today. For instance, Ali-Ibn Sina was a mathematician and a scientist, and his work in medicine has significantly impacted modern medicine. As we discussed in class, one of the leading characteristics of the Timurid era was making everything bigger, better, and brighter. Although creating such wealthy communities was Timur’s goal as a ruler, his primary intention was to build his reputation worldwide. He wanted to glorify himself as an emperor and show the European countries his ability to build a vast empire. To create a more critical image of him, Timur made Afrasiab from scratch. Afrasiab was wrecked when the Mongols were in power. Timur sought this opportunity to create a picture of himself as a powerful and resourceful king. One of the most exciting segments of the subject, regarding the Timurid era, was the role of women and their presence in glorifying the emperor. Timur’s decision to marry a descendant of Genghis Khan shows that he did not exclude the influence of a woman in nation-building. Marrying a descendant of Genghis Khan and granting her powers to engage in the renovations of the mosques showed Timur himself valued women as a high pillar in the society.

The Timurid campaigns added more territories to the vast empire and brought money through taxes. The more or less regular inflow of taxes from the captured lands, which Timur’s deputies governed, and the loot from the various conquests, all gave Timur enough money to spend on building a beautiful and magnificent capital; the city of Samarkand. Timur had artisans, scholars, poets, and painters relocated to Samarkand, turning it into a center for arts and science (Timurid Empire). It is known Timur himself was nothing more than a plunderer. He looted more advanced and prosperous cities; like Delhi, Baghdad, Khiva, etc., and brought the looted money back to his capital. And, instead of building a government, through which he could establish a strong and well-established empire, he merely made a magnificent city, fit to be a museum. Timur built Samarkand to be a tourist attraction and a center for learning for students from all walks of life. Timur used his looted wealth freely to cover every expense required. These measures helped the city of Uzbek become renowned, but they also turned the Timurid empire into a vast piece of land with ruined cities and a destroyed economy.

Overall, Timur’s reign is considered the golden age of Central Asia. He expanded his empire and brought back riches from mysterious and far-off lands such as India and the Ottoman Empire. He built links of Central Asia with the rest of the world. During Timur’s rule, Central Asia was at its peak and enjoyed great success, something it would never again witness.


Timurid Empire. (n.d.). Retrieved from Empire History:



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