TRANSOXANIA. The Land Between the Rivers. Tartary. Turkistan. Many names have been used for the region that now includes Uzbekistan, the “Land of Uzbeks.” From as early as the 15th century, Uzbekistan’s cities were useful to merchants traveling on the Silk Road, a network of roads that once connected China to the Mediterranean. Cotton now dominates the Uzbek textile market. Beautiful carpets made of cotton, wool, or silk are also sold here.
Uzbek culture has been influenced by many peoples throughout history. Famous conquerors and their powerful armies marched through the mountains and deserts of Uzbekistan. These include Alexander the Great, who met his beloved Roxane here; Genghis Khan, from Mongolia; and Timur (also known as Tamerlane), a native of the region, who ruled over one of the vastest empires in history.
Magnificent, colorful monuments having domes covered with blue tiles shape the modern urban landscape in Uzbekistan. Many of these buildings function as schools.
The Silk Road. Already in use before our common era and thriving until the opening of the sea route to India at the end of the 15th century C.E., this trade-road network, part of which passed through what is now Uzbekistan, had a central place in world commerce.
The Aral Sea. As a result of water diversion for irrigation purposes, the Aral Sea
Uzbekistan’s changing alphabet. Various languages were spoken here, and after Islamic conquest in the eighth century, Arabic was adopted. After the country entered the Soviet Union, the Latin alphabet was first used and then replaced with Cyrillic at the end of the 1930’s. In 1993 a new law introduced the Uzbek alphabet, which is based on the Latin script.