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Pre-Islamic in Samarkand

Pre-Islamic in Samarkand

The site of Samarkand was sporadically occupied in the Bronze and Early Iron Ages. A city was founded in pre-Achaemenid times, between 650 and 550 BC. A wall followed the whole circuit of the plateau (5.5 km), complemented by another one which separates the town from the acropolis, situated in the northern part and itself including a citadel raised on an artificial platform. The massive wall, 7 m thick, was made of coarse mud bricks, all of which bear a mark, an indication that labor was strictly organized in groups of workers. Similar building techniques have been noticed at other Sogdian and pre-Sogdian sites during that pre-Achaemenid period. The city was conquered by Alexander the Great in 329 BC. It was named Maracanda by the Greeks. Two phases of Greek occupation can be distinguished, the first lasting from Alexander to the second half of the 3rd cent.BC and a second period of reconquest under the Greco-Bactrian king Eucratides (171-145 BC). The pottery differs markedly between these two phases. The pre-Islamic Sogdian civilization is best documented from excavations at Panjikent. At Samarqand, the major source of evidence for this period is the aristocratic residence with the famous wall paintings which were commissioned for a reception hall ca. 660 AD, probably by King Varkhuman.

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Samarkand Travel Guide from Wikitravel. Many thanks to all Wikitravel contributors. Text is available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0, images are available under various licenses, see each image for details.

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