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two white tents in a field: yurts

Yurts- the houses of Central Asia

What do nomads live in?

The nomadic people of Central Asia generally lived in yurts, portable houses made of a foldable wood frame with felted wool coverings over it. (This is actually a lot like our houses, which are also wood frame and sometimes use felt for insulation). These are some yurts.

History of wool
What is felting?
All our Central Asia articles

Russian log cabins

Other people, mainly in Russia, lived in small houses built from wood, like American log cabins. Log cabins were originally a Scandinavian idea, and the Vikings may have brought them to Russia.

Who were the Vikings? 
History of Russia

ruins of a big building

Bibi Hanum Mosque, Samarkand (1300s AD)

Stone palaces in Central Asia

By the Early Middle Ages, as Central Asian people got richer and stronger from the Silk Road, they built stone palaces for their leaders. At Kara Balgasun about 700 AD, the Uighurs had a strong mud wall with watch towers around their city.

Who were the Uighurs?
More about mud-brick

The Khitan also built big mud walls around their cities in the 900s, and Buddhist stupas like the earlier ones in India. At Karakorum, the Mongols built a stone palace that resembles Chinese palaces. In the 1200s Karakorum had paved streets, temples, mosques, a church, and walls all around it.

Mosques and churches

a boxy little building with lots of intricate designs all over it and a dome

The tomb of the Samanid rulers. Bukhara, Uzbekistan, about 900 AD.

Other bigger buildings that people built in Central Asia were mosques and churches. People usually built mosques and churches out of stone. The Samanids built large stone buildings in Central Asia, like the tomb of their rulers in what is now Uzbekistan, built about 900 AD.

What is a mosque?

This tomb has some of the earliest pointed arches in the world, probably inspired by Islamic architecture further west. The Seljuk Turks built more mosques in Central Asia about 1000 AD. Soon after that, many people in Russia converted to Christianity and started to build churches like the ones they had seen in Constantinople.

Central Asian architecture after 1500 AD

Bibliography and further reading about Central Asian architecture:

Islamic architecture
Indian Architecture
Medieval Architecture
Chinese Architecture home