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The Great Silk Road: from the Depths of History to the Present



The branched networks of caravan roads of the Great Silk Road crossed Europe and Asia from the Mediterranean to China providing commercial relations and dialogue of cultures of the West and the East the in ancient times and the Middle Ages. The most lengthy and main sector of The Great Silk Road ran through Central Asia including the territory of Turkmenistan.

Caravans loaded with silk from China, spices and semi-precious stones from India, silver from Iran, cloths from Byzantine, ceramics from Afro-Siab and many other goods went across the Karakum desert through Merv and Khoresm oases and crossed the Murgab and Amudarya Rivers. On the caravans’ way rich towns, trade-and-workmanship settlements, caravansaries, mosques and madrasseh blossomed out.

 The numerous historical monuments - pearls of ancient and medieval architecture included in the list of the World Cultural Heritage - Ancient Nisa, Kunyayrgench and Ancient Merv among them remained the witnesses of those times. Thanks to researches the ancient history is reconstructed; economy, way of life and culture, education and development of ethnic communities, formation of traditions as well as cultural mutual influence and international cooperation are studied. For provision of monuments’ preservation a network of historical and cultural reserves has been created, which cover the whole territory of the country.

 As it is known, Turkmenistan has put forward for consideration to the Coordination Council for Nomination of The Great Silk Road in the UNESCO List of World Cultural Heritage about twenty five monuments concentrated at the main directions between such large ancient towns as Dekhistan, Nisa, Merv, Sarakhs, Amul and Kunyayrgench. First of all, they are caravansaries, palaces, mosques and holy places, where travelers have stopped for worship and pray.

 The Great Silk way, which route passed through the large towns, promoted development of trade and crafts. In the historical sources Merv, Sarakhs and Nisa are mentioned as the places of developed trading-monetary relations. In the large towns markets were the centers of trade and handicraft manufacture, where weaving was one of the most widespread. Fabrics were made of wool, flax, cotton and silk. Fabrics made in Merv, Nisa and Abiverd were considered as the luxury goods. In addition to weaving, the glasswork, ceramic, tannery and jeweler’s were also concentrated in the towns, which provided with all necessary things not only an internal market but a foreign market as well.

 The medieval towns of Turkmenistan played a huge role in support and development of trade relations, which promoted an exchange not only the goods but traditions, technologies, ideas and knowledge feeding the developing Turkmen culture as well.