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Samarkand Area


"Central Asia is a place where the veils between the spiritual and material worlds are thin."
Memories of SamarklandÓ
The Gold Mosque Samarkand - Photo  Lisa Sacksen

This fact can be demonstrated clearly by two events which happened in June 1942. Tamerlane a 14 Century Naqshbandi leader who is buried in a lavish mausoleum in Samarkhand is the main character in this story for which the second world war might have been the plot. Tamerlane, or Timur the lame as he was known to Europeans in the Middle Ages, was a Ruler and Military Leader who established an Asian Empire which he conducted from Samarkhand, and which was second only in size and ferocity to that of the infamous Ancestor Chinggis Khan.

His tomb made of jade is an object which inspires myth and is apparently engraved with the ominous words, "if this grave is disturbed the earth will rumble". During the night of 22nd June 1941 a Russian Archaeologist, Mikhael Gerasimov, intent on discovering whether Tamerlane was in fact lame or not, took it upon himself to open the tomb for experiments. He did this at night so as not to raise local curiosity, and whilst he was in the Gur Emir, one of his assistants came rushing in to tell him that the Hitler had invaded Russia.

Seemingly oblivious to this ominous coincidence the Archeologist continued with his excavations, as the war began between Germany and Russia in earnest. Gerasimov continued his experiments on Tamerlames body for a further 2 years and when he was satisfied that Tamerlane had in fact been lame he returned the body to its casket. Within two weeks of him doing so the Germans had surrendered at Stalingrad and the second world war had turned in the favour of the Allies, which of course included the Russians. Truth or myth, the veils are thin in Central Asia, as they have always been, it seems.

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Samarkand City
Hoja Ismail
Penjikent (Tajikistan)
Fan Mountains (Tajikistan)
© 2001-2010 STANtours last modified April 23, 2002