The capital of Uzbekistan is Tashkent, the largest industrial, scientific and cultural centre in Central Asia. In written sources the history of Tashkent goes back to ancient times. The name “Tashkent” was first mentioned in written sources in the early 11th century. According to Abu Rayhan Beruni, the history of Tashkent goes back to the Turkish “Tash” – stone and “kent” – city, i.e. the word Tashkent itself is translated as “stone city”. There is, however, reason to believe that the first component of the name is older and goes back to the word “Chach”, which was later redesigned by the Arabs because the letter Ch – in “shash” – is missing in their language and script, and by the Turks because of the correspondence of individual letters – in “Tash” – stone.
The earliest mention of the name Chach, which is today uncovered by science, refers to the year 262 A.D. It is about the mountains of Chach, which together with other regions of Central Asia are mentioned in the inscription of King Shapur I. (241-272) on the Zoroaster. Chach is thought to be a shortened form from a more complete name – Chachan or Chachani. In this form, it is indicated on the oldest coins minted in the area, whose date of issue dates back to the middle of the III century AD. The inscription on them reads: “Chach people (or community) ruler Vanvan” or Vanun.
The silver bowl from the village of Kerchevo (Western Siberia) with a Sogdian inscription says that this bowl belongs to the owner of Chach (inscription – a community or people of Chach). Apparently the name of Chach from the same period is also found on another silver bowl found in a grave near the Chinese border with Vietnam.
The name Chach, in the truncated form of Chachani, Chachan is found on bronze coins found in this area in the VI – first half of the VIII century. It is also mentioned in the famous letter of the ambassador of the Sogdian ruler Devashtich Fatufarn. From the second half of the VIII. Instead, the equivalent shash was introduced, which the Arabs applied more to the area than to any other city at the same time.
Tashkent, like many other ancient cities in Central Asia, is characterised by urban movements in space and time. Its original core (Shashtepa) has its origin in one place – on the southern outskirts of Tashkent. Ancient and early medieval city (Ming Urik) in another – in the area of the present railway station. Medieval city Binkat, in third place – on the territory of the Old Town. This is the very place where, due to favourable climatic conditions, the water sources of Tashkent and their subsequent growth in all directions were formed. 30 – 40 thousand years ago, on the banks of the Bozsu and Karakamysh channels there were sites of primitive communities of the upper Paleolithic period (40 – 10 thousand years B.C.), and 10 thousand years ago there were also people of the Mesolithic period.
The wide development of the oasis of Tashkent in ancient times is also known from written sources (Herodotus – VI century BC, Bekhistun inscription of Darius I. VI century B.C.), who called their population “the Sakas who were behind Sogd”, “the Zayaksart Sakas (behind Syrdarya)” and “the Sakas who cooked Haoma (or Soma)”, in “Avesta” they are called the inhabitants of the legendary land of Turan – warrior-Turen. It is possible that the holy Kanha Avesta Kangdiz was located here, which is confirmed by the name of the settlement Kanka near Akkurgan.
Towards the end of the 2nd, beginning of the 1st century BC, Chinese chronicles mention that there is a town in the Chirchik valley in the Yuni region. Scientists believe that the city of Yun was located on the territory of today’s Tashkent.
In VI-VII century A.D. the territory of Tashkent was part of the Chach state, Turkish assemblies lived here. In 713 the first Arab troops invaded Shash. The conquest was weak and after that Shash was ruled by the Maliks for decades. Only in the year 751, after the great battle of the Arabs with the Chinese, who also tried to conquer Shash, the Arabs could finally secure their victory. A unique building from this period has been preserved in Tashkent – the Hazrat Imam Mausoleum.
Until the IX-X century the city became a centre of trade and craftsmen. Here were built a citadel and the city centre – Shahristan, built on the hills, is today the centre of the old bazaar “Chorču”. Behind the walls of the citadel there was a palace and a prison. A part of the tower of the old walls of the citadel could be seen until recently near the circus of Tashkent. Some of the gates of the citadel led to the suburbs – Rabad, others – towards Shahristan. The latter was discovered by an independent wall and had three gates.
In 1220 the Mongols led by Genghis Khan conquered Central Asia. During the Mongol conquest, Mongols and other Turkish normads mixed with the local population.
At the end of the 14th and beginning of the 15th century, Tashkent was very often mentioned in the description of the struggle that led first to the formation of the state of Amir Temur and then to its disintegration. Some of the preserved monuments are linked to this period in Tashkent, such as the building complex near the Sheikhontaur mazar. One of them is the Yunus Khan mausoleum, which is interesting because of its stone half-columns inside.
At the beginning of the XVI century Tashkent became part of the state founded by Shaibanikhan. In the second half of the XVI century, Emir of Bukhara Abdullah Khan started the siege of Tashkent and took it. In 1723 Tashkent was placed under the control of the Kalmyks.
In the second half of the XVIII century the city was taken by the Kalmyks. In the second half of the XVIII century the city began again to recognize the rule of Bukhara. During this period Tashkent was divided into four parts. One of the Hakims (Mayor) of the city of Yunus joined the fight against other Hakims and took power into his hands. Under Yunus, Tashkent was enclosed by the city wall because the city had to constantly withstand the struggle against the Khanate Kokand. But in 1810 Tashkent was nevertheless taken, first by the Khanate Kokand and finally in 1865 by Russian invaders.
At the beginning of the XX century the city began to change – the so-called “New City” was built. Tashkent was divided into two parts – the Old Town and the New Town. However, in 1940 a planning project was elaborated, according to which the two parts of the city were to be united. The reconstruction created a compact area with developed infrastructure. The town was landscaped, impressive architectural structures, squares, parks were created, which can still be visited today.
In recent years Tashkent has been renovated and rebuilt. Today’s Tashkent is a modern industrial and economic metropolis, but with elements of an ancient and rich history.