Central Asia

/Central Asia

Central Asia was once a very rich part of the world. Because Central Asia was in the middle of Asia, they could sell things west on the Silk Road to Mesopotamia, south to India, and east to China.

First, Central Asia was the home of herders. People rode horses and herded cattle across huge grasslands. They ate yogurt and cheese and steak. They hunted and fought with bows and arrows. Sometimes people left Central Asia and moved to other places: first the Yamnaya, the Indo-Europeans, then in the Middle Ages the Turks and the Mongols. But by that time, many of them were farmers. They grew peaches and melons and apples, and sold them to their neighbors. They invented bowed instruments like violins. They built big cities – Samarkand and Merv and Tashkent and Kandahar. They manufactured and exported high quality steel and carpets. They were very rich.

But then things changed. New kinds of ships, compasses and clocks made it safer to travel on the oceans than it had been before. Ships moved steel and cotton and sugar much cheaper than camels and donkeys did, so more and more trade went by ship. Central Asia’s position in the middle of the land was a disadvantage now. And they were much poorer than they had been before.

14 09, 2017

Who were the Scythians? Central Asian history

By |2019-09-05T05:39:15-07:00September 14th, 2017|Central Asia|0 Comments

Scythian history: A Scythian milking a sheep (Tolstaja Mogila kurgan, Ukraine, 400 BC) Scythians lived in Central Asia The Scythians were a large group of loosely connected people who lived in Russia. They also lived further south around the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.  Like the Hittites, the Greeks and the Germans, they were Indo-Europeans. Powerful in the Iron Age We [...]

11 09, 2017

Scythian art history – Central Asian art

By |2019-09-05T06:00:05-07:00September 11th, 2017|Central Asia|0 Comments

Scythian deer from about 700-500 B.C. It is made out of gold, and it's now in St. Petersburg. The Scythians were horse-riding nomads, who traveled around the western part of Central Asia taking care of their big herds of cattle and hunting wild animals like this deer. Scythian art was mostly small, so people could carry it around conveniently. For [...]

10 09, 2017

Late Middle Ages timeline – 1100-1500 AD

By |2018-04-09T10:31:17-07:00September 10th, 2017|Central Asia, History, When|0 Comments

The Mongol court (1200s AD) After the warming trend of 1000 AD came a colder period around 1300 AD called the Little Ice Age. Again, people felt the effects around the world. In Central Asia, the Mongols rose to power in the late 1200s AD. They conquered China, Russia, northern India, and most of the Islamic Empire and united them into one huge [...]

10 09, 2017

Late Bronze Age timeline: 2000 – 1000 BC

By |2017-09-10T17:55:52-07:00September 10th, 2017|Central Asia, History|0 Comments

Earliest known spoked wheels, from a grave in western Siberia When about 2000 BC the Central Asians invented better wheels with spokes, so you could fight from your chariot, a new wave of Indo-Europeans moved from Central Asia west to Greece, and Italy, or south into Egypt and Iran, and from Iran about 1500 BC to India. Some of [...]

10 09, 2017

Bronze Age timeline: 4000-2000 BC

By |2019-02-24T07:17:10-07:00September 10th, 2017|Central Asia, History|0 Comments

A Bronze Age clay pot with a drawing of a wheeled cart from what is now Poland, about 3500 BC Cities, kings and empires Around 4000 BC, there were enough people in West Asia, Egypt, China, and Peru for them to live in small cities (about 10,000-50,000 people). These places began to choose kings to govern them. Then they formed the [...]

7 09, 2017

Steel history – medieval to modern steel

By |2018-09-10T06:07:42-07:00September 7th, 2017|Central Asia, Science|0 Comments

Steel history: a Safavid steel helmet (Iran, 1500s AD) Medieval steel from India and Iran The wars after the collapse of the Mongol Empire in the 1300s stopped steel production in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. But metal-workers kept on making high quality crucible steel in India and Iran under the Pandyas, the Mughals, and the Safavid Empire. The wars also made it hard [...]

7 09, 2017

What was smallpox? History of disease

By |2018-04-15T17:01:43-07:00September 7th, 2017|Central Asia, Science|0 Comments

A baby with smallpox (from the CDC) Smallpox was a very serious disease caused by a virus. Many people died of it. Smallpox caused little bumps on your skin, like chickenpox but much more serious. About two to five of every ten people who got smallpox died of it. There was (and is still) [...]

7 09, 2017

What is opium? World history of medicine and drugs

By |2017-09-07T09:33:48-07:00September 7th, 2017|Central Asia, Science|1 Comment

Opium poppy flower Opium comes from a kind of poppy flower. It evolved around 100 million years ago in West Asia and Central Asia. People probably realized as soon as they got to West Asia, about 60,000 years ago, that you could use opium as a medicine. By 6000 BC, in the Stone Age, West Asian farmers were already growing opium in their [...]

27 07, 2017

The Yamnaya and the Indo-European language family

By |2018-04-21T13:20:00-07:00July 27th, 2017|Central Asia, History|3 Comments

Yamnaya get around: Map of the spread of Indo-European languages Who were the Yamnaya? People we call the Yamnaya (Ukrainian for "People who lived in pits") seem to have been speaking an early version of the Indo-European language at least as early as 5000 BC in the area between the Black Sea and the Caspian [...]

7 07, 2017

Alexander the Great and the Silk Road

By |2019-01-22T05:41:36-07:00July 7th, 2017|Central Asia, Greeks, History|0 Comments

Alexander in the east: Darius' palace at Persepolis Alexander reaches Afghanistan When Alexander finished conquering Persia (modern Iran), he burned Darius' great palace at Persepolis: only ruins are left today. Then he marched further east with his army up into the mountains of Bactria (modern Afghanistan). Who was Alexander of Macedon? The Persian [...]