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Museum of History of Uzbekistan

In 1970, the centenary of Lenin's birth, Tashkent lauded the opening of this white marble shrine to the life of Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov. For two decades Young Pioneers gazed at over 3,000 exhibits: carpets, statues, even a copy of blood-stained clothes from a 1920 assassination attempt. Independence has killed the cult in favour of a post-Soviet version. Besides contemporary propaganda, the core collection is from the now defunct Aiybek Museum, founded in 1876 as Central Asia's first and strong on archaeological explanation of the Uzbek heritage. The collection, which began as Uzbekistan's аirst public museum in 1876, includes some 60,000 archaeological finds, 80,000 coins and 35,000 remarkable negatives, black-and-white photos and reports from early archaeological digs. It is the largest repository of historical artefacts in central Asia.

The museum contains a unique collection of over 250,000 archeological, numismatic and ethnographic exhibits and archival materials. Most interesting are the archaeological remains from Bactria, now southeast Uzbekistan, including a photo of the famous ivory scabbard found in Takht-i-Sangin on Uzbek-Tajik border and copies of the Oxus Treasure, currently stored in the British Museum. Painted reconstructions of Kampyr Tepe and Khalchayan put into context sculpture from Airtam and the hand and feet of Buddhas from Fayaz Tepe, both on the border with Afghanistan border.

There are 4 floors in the museum. The museum's lower floor displays ancient history, from skeletal human remains uncovered in the Selangor grotto thought to be 1.5 million years old, to a 4th-century bc bronze cauldron carved with writhing animals. Uzbekistan's only complete Buddha figure (1st to 2nd century ad), from Surkhandarya in eastern Uzbekistan where ancient Silk Road monasteries flourished, is here. There are also scale models of the Bibi Khanym Mosque in Samarkand, Ulug Begs observatory, and the Khorezm fortress of Koi Krylgan. A small gift shop on the ground floor sells the usual selection of souvenirs as well as a few books in English. Guided tours are available.

The first floor hosts an exhibition gallery for modern exhibitions of various themes held periodically. The exhibits on the second floor tell the history of Uzbekistan from the ancient times up to the Timurid era.

The exhibits dating from the Temurid period are of special interest. They illustrate the extraordinary flourishing of a medieval civilization of science, poetry, architecture, crafts and miniature painting. There's also some fine 'Iron Man'- style Timurid armour.

Unique museum exhibits include stone sculpture of two snakes found on the territory of the Fergana valley (2nd millennium B.C.); decor of the Bukhara governors' palace of 6th - 8th centuries; fragments of 7th - 8th century mural painting found in Afrosiab settlement; 10th century carved wooden column from Oburdon village.

Special place of the exposition is taken by the artifacts related to Buddhist period the Uzbek history. The "Triad" - an ancient statue of Buddha with two monks (1-4th centuries BC) and other findings discovered in 1969 in Fayaz-Tepa Buddhist temple complex stand in.

Museum numismatic collections are extremely valuable. They include money coined as far back as in 5th century BC to the 19th century. Coins of the Akhaemenids, Alexander the Great, Selevkids, Greek-Bactrian kings, Kushan, Khoresm, Sogd, Chach are presented in the collection. Besides there are coins of mediaeval dynasties: Takhirids, Samanids, Karakhanids, Chingizids, Genghis khan clan, Timurids, etc.

The upper floor focuses on Central Asia's struggles against Tsarist Russian occupation, highlighting rebellions in Andijan (1898), Tashkent (1916) and Kokand (1918). The most fascinating documents are copies of a 1735 Dutch map of Central Asia and the 7th century Sogdian documents discovered at Mt Mug near Penjikent in Tajikistan. Look also for the huge clock with its hands frozen at 5:22am, the exact time when a devastating earthquake hit Tashkent in 1966.

A later section on terrorism details ethnic violence in Fergana and Osh in 1989/90. The obligatory Presidential Gifts section is as boring as you'd imagine, though there are some surprises including the Uzbekistan flag held atop Mt Everest and the Olympic gold medal won by Uzbek boxer Muhammadqodir Abdullayev in the Sydney games.

Address: 3, Rashidov Avenue, Tashkent
Phone: (+998 71) 239-17-79, 239-17-78, 239-10-83
Working hours: from 10:00 a.m. to 05:00 p.m. (w/o lunch)
Closed: on Monday
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