The transcontinental caravan road, which connected East and West during ancient times and the Middle Ages, existed from the 2nd century BC till the end of the 15th century AD. History tells us that the term ‘Great Silk Road’ is closely related to the Chinese silk often transported along this route. Silk cultivation using Chinese silk worms was a closely guarded secret. Betrayers of the secret were sentenced to death, which is why the silk worm technique remained unknown in Europe for such a long time. The Sogden people, who lived in what is today Uzbekistan, played an important role in the discovery of the Eastern part of the Silk Route. The Sogdian language was one of the official trading languages on the Silk Road. Samarkand, the pearl of Uzbekistan, was at one of the main crossroads of the caravan routes and was extremely important for the development of the Silk Road, and the geographical location of the towns Buchara, Poykent, Termez and Taschkent helped to make them commercial centers. In the 11th century, Samarkand was one of the biggest cities in the world with a population of more than 200 000 people. Chinese historians wrote that in Samarkand children learnt to count before they could read and write. In the 5th to the 8th century, the transport of silk was not permitted between Iran and the Byzantine Empire. With the support of Byzantine and Turkish leaders of Sogda and Chorezem, Sogdian traders therefore opened a new road network to Constantinople via the Caspian Sea to North Caucasus and the Black Sea. The ancient city of Khiva, located in the western part of Uzbekistan, enjoyed an unexpected boom as a result. In the West, silk became an extremely precious merchandise, paid for with gold and precious stones, and Byzantine emperors even exchanged silk for European mercenaries. All this just goes to show how valuable silk was. At that time, silk became the main commercial investment in the three great empires: the Byzantine Empire, Sassanids Iran, and Turkish Khanate. During this era, the famous Samarkand paper, embroidery and glass products from Bukhara, bows and arrows from Tashkent, famous swords and daggers from the Ferghana Valley were taken to the West from Uzbekistan along with the silk, and from the West back to the East chinaware, spices from Iran and from India and all sorts of precious stones from Badakhshan. During the second half of the 6th century, China lost its monopoly on silk production, because the Byzantine Empire was producing silk in large quantities, and there was no more need to bring silk from China. Silk manufacture slowly spread through the Byzantine Empire via Transcaucasia to the Mediterranean countries, finishing the long history of the Great Silk Road. Another reason for the end of this commercial road was the discovery of new commercial maritime routes by Christopher Columbus, Vasco de Gama, and Magellan.
In 1994, during an international meeting on the restoration of the Great Silk Road organized by the World Tourism Organization, Uzbekistan was declared the center of this ancient route. On this basis, more than 200 Silk Road routes were defined on Uzbekistan territory, covering the main tourist areas such as Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, Karshi, Termez, Tashkent and the Ferghana Valley cities.
DOCA tours offers various routes according to differing goals and objectives: outdoor adventure, camping and yurt, ethnic, religious, cultural, ecological, archeological and other types of large-scale tourism. Experienced professional guides will accompany you and tell you about the routes and towns, the silk trade and the importance of the Silk Roads.
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