Merv, Marv-i-hahjaham, Queen of the World

Merv was one of the major cities on the Silk Route from whom many caravans went forth to all four corners of the world therefore its walls witnessed a rich cultural and religious interaction of many ethnic groups.

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Merv003811Alexander the Great conquered it and called it Alexandria Margiana however Parthians conquered the Hellenistic city and thus it was under their control from 250 BC to 226 AD until the Sassanians conquered it.

The Muslims conquered it in the 7th century. Merv achieved its greatest height of power, culture and civilization in the 11th and 12th centuries when it was the Seljuk capiyal. When I stood on the immense Giour Kala which today is an enormous mound of dirt, I closed my eyes and let my mind be caught up in the world of Scheherazade of the Thousand and One Nights because this great city inspired those wonderful tales filled with medieval adventure.

The Mongols devastated the great Merv, the Queen of the World in 1221.

Merv was up to that conquest a great cosmopolitan city whose walls embraced not only 365 hectares but also religious diversity: a quarter was Christian, a quarter Buddhist, a quarter Jewish and then Muslims.

After an long and imaginative day at the ruins at Merv, I went to a Zadekah celebration and helped with the cooking. The locals not only want to share food but also wanted their photo with me.

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