When Soviet archaeologists exhumed this tomb in 1941, they allegedly found this inscription inside: “When I rise from the dead, the world shall tremble. Whoever opens my tomb shall unleash an invader more terrible than I.”
In a matter of hours, Hitler’s men invaded Russia resulting in millions of deaths. Stalin ordered the remains to be reinterred in 1942, and soon after, the Germans surrendered at Stalingrad. Coincidence or not, it is a remarkable story.
Two years ago, I listened to a series of podcasts about this man for whom this mausoleum was built. I found him frightening and intriguing! There aren’t enough books written about him, and eurocentric history merely dedicates one or two measly paragraphs to him!
This man, known in the West as Tamerlane, is Amir Timur, “iron” in their language. It was he who freed his people from the yoke of the Mongols and proceeded to establish the Timurid Empire in 1370 and conquered lands spanning parts of Russia, and north western India to Syria.
During his reign, he and his armies decimated 5 percent of the world’s population! On his Persian conquest, they massacred and constructed towers out of the bodies. He was as brutal as the Mongol Khans, but unlike them, he spared the intellectuals, the architects, the writers, the rug makers, the craftsmen, the artistic and the educated, and brought them to Samarkand. And thus began the flourishing of Timurid arts and architecture, well exhibited in this very mausoleum up to this day.
Where I am staying in Samarkand is a wall away from this mausoleum.
The moon was still up when I walked over this morning and the muezzin’s call to prayer accompanied my quiet footfalls.
I sat on the steps with a book thinking it would still be off limits at such an early hour, but the caretaker noticed me and offered to let me in and left me on my own!
Heart pounding and knees slightly trembling, I entered and thought I heard throat singing along with the muezzin’s call…