The Samarkand State Museum of Cultural History of Uzbekistan
contains a most extensive collection of artistic treasures, and archaeological and ethnographical exhibits encompassing the history of not only Samarkand,
but of the entire region. The history of the museum dates back to the late
19th century. The museum is rich in exhibits: archaeological,
ethnographical, and manuscripts, and it includes a unique collection of coins
from different countries and different ages, articles of jewelry, ancient
objects made from Samarkand glass, and still astonishing in spite of their
often fragmented state by their delicacy and elegance. There are specimens
of skilful alabaster and marble carvings, as well as unique silver bowls
decorated with inscriptions in Sogdian language.
Branches of the Samarkand State Reserve-Museum
Museum of the History of the Founding of Samarkand on Afrasiab
Afrasiab is the site of the ancient ruins of Samarkand, and today is a state
archaeological reservation. Here under the multicentury layers of the earth
rests its first town - "abode of the Sogdians" that is mentioned in the
Avesta. At the foot of the hill of Afrasiab stands Museum of the History of
the Founding of Samarkand that was opened in 1970. Everything here is
precise, carefully thought out and sparingly presented. The exhibits are not
cluttered together as often is the case in the museums. Each object that is
exhibited is expressive in itself and is presented in such a way that one
immediately sees the people, the time and the events connected with it. The
Museum exhibition is presented chronologically and consists of genuine
objects that were found here at Afrasiab during archaeological excavations.
The wall paintings that date back to late 7th - early 8th A.D. are
represented here. They were discovered in 1965 and are believed to be to
have decorated one of the rooms in the palace of the ruler of the country of
Sogdiana, of which Samarkand was the capital.
Address: Tashkent Street 7. Tel: +998 (66) 235 53 36.
Ulugbek (1394-1449) has entered history not as a descendent of Timur the
Great, and even as a ruler of Samarkand, but as one of the great scientists
of his times. The observatory became a center of scientific knowledge. It was founded in 1428-1429, on a hill beside Obi-Rakhmat (which
means "Blessed Waters") irrigation canals. According to testimony of
contemporaries, the observatory was a three-storied round building,
decorated inside with celestial themes and faced with tiles on the outside.
A gigantic astronomical instrument was placed inside the building - a
sextant that served for the visual observation of the stars. The arc of the
sextant was divided into minutes and seconds. With the aid of this
instrument, which was unique for its time, the famous Star Atlas "Ziddji-
Guragoni" was complied by Ulugbek in 1437.
On the territory of the memorial complex of Ulugbek's observatory, there is
a small museum (1970) devoted to the life of Ulugbek and his activities.
Here one can see a model of the observatory building and fragments of its
decorative ornamentation. The museum exhibits show the development of
scientific thought in Central Asia, whose apogee is connected with the names
of the mathematician and astronomer Khorezmi (758-850), the
scientist-encyclopedist Al - Beruni (973- 1039) etc. The scientific activities
of Ulugbek are a logical development of this fruitful tradition.
Address: Tashkent Street 1. Tel: +998 (66) 2350345.
Sadriddin Aini Memorial House-Museum
Not far from the Registan ensemble, on Registan Street, stands a
house-museum unremarkable from the outside but carefully preserved. This
house is connected with the name of a man who is widely known not only in
Uzbekistan, but also in the other countries of the East, Sadriddin Aini
(1878-1954). Aini, whose native tongue was Tajik, also wrote in Uzbek, and
thus made an invaluable contribution to the development of the culture of
two nation Uzbek and Tajik. With his life and creative work, Aini continued
the best traditions of the centuries - old culture of the Orient. The
house-museum of Aini speaks of a man of high culture, modest and hard
working. The abundance of books, the simplicity of the furnishings, even
certain sternness, which was somewhat, softened by the trimness of the
mekhmonkhona, that is, the living room. A grapevine has wound itself around
the awning in the inner courtyard. This grapevine, just as the personal
effects of the master, his writing desk and his books, may also be viewed as
being in the category of a memorial exhibits: it is more that seventy years
old. This means that Aini himself looked after it :
Address: Registan Street. Tel: +998 (66) 2355153.
Khodja Doniyor Mausoleum
Khodja Doniyor Mausoleum is one of the most-well known cult places in
Samarkand. With identical respect the Christians, the Jews and the Muslims
are responsible for it. Doniyor, Daniil, Daniel are the names of one the
same Saint in Muslim, Christian and Judaism literature. The six-domed
mausoleum was constructed above Khodja Doniyor's grave in Samarkand (at the
present moment only five domes have been preserved) in the beginning of XX
century by the Samarkand artisans - soap boilers on the head of which was
Makmud-aksakal. However, due to the engravings of the middle of XIX century
and photos of the late XIX century it is known, that originally tomb was
covered with the river stone, and on the part of the head there stood
several sacred poles - called tug. Inside the mausoleum one can see 18
meters long tomb. There are some versions concerning its length. According
to one of the versions, the transported remains were sacred, the people with
bad intentions could find and dig out them and carry away. That's why the
long tomb was made, and the remains of the Prophet are buried somewhere in
Address: Tashkent Street 5.
Samarkand Museum of Regional Studies
The Samarkand Museum of Regional Studies was opened on the 21st of December
1981. The museum is an educational base for the students of the
universities, colleges and for schoolchildren of the city.
The exhibitions of the museum are arranged in one of the pictorial corners
of the city of Samarkand in the building of the old detached house that
belonged to Abram Kalontarov, a merchant of the first guild.
At a depth of the shady yard there is a two- story building, made of baked
bricks in the style of eclectic that is typical for the colonial
architecture of the early XX cent. The author of the house design is E.O.
Nelle. There are 5 house-buildings in the territory of the courtyard
altogether. The construction works carried out from 1902 till 1916 here.
Today the house is considered to be the architecture of the early XX century
and is under the protection of the state. As Abram Kalontarov reminisces, in
the time of construction of the house the well-known artisans took part,
among them there were usto Kamol, usto Sadi, usto Khafiz and others.
According to the memories of the former owner, for the construction of the
mekhmonkhona (living room) 1600 rubles in gold were spent. This living
room has preserved its earlier decoration, like some other halls of the
house. All the halls of the building are located in a row forming the suit.
Here is also a permanent exhibition about the life and culture of local jews.
Address: Jomi Street 51. Tel: +998 (66) 2330352.