Settlements > Maracanda



Maracanda, also known as Marakanda or Maracand, was an ancient city located in Central Asia, historically associated with the Achaemenid Empire. Maracanda was situated in the fertile valley of the Zeravshan River, in what is now modern-day Uzbekistan. It occupied a strategic position along the Silk Road, connecting the regions of Central Asia with Persia and beyond. Maracanda was an ancient settlement with a long history dating back to prehistoric times. During the Achaemenid period, Maracanda became part of the Persian Empire and served as an important regional center.

Role in the Achaemenid Empire:

Maracanda played a significant role in the Achaemenid Empire as a key administrative and commercial hub in Central Asia. It served as a center for trade, commerce, and cultural exchange between the Persian heartland and the various regions of Central Asia.

Cultural and Economic Importance:

Maracanda was a culturally diverse city, inhabited by various ethnic groups including Persians, Greeks, and indigenous Central Asian peoples. The city thrived economically due to its strategic location along trade routes, benefiting from the exchange of goods, ideas, and cultures.

Archaeological Significance:

Maracanda is known for its archaeological remains, including ancient fortifications, palaces, and religious structures. Excavations at Maracanda have revealed insights into Achaemenid urban planning, architecture, and material culture in Central Asia.


Maracanda's historical significance extends beyond the Achaemenid period, encompassing its role in subsequent Persian, Hellenistic, and Islamic periods. The city remained an important urban center throughout antiquity, reflecting the enduring influence of Persian culture and civilization in Central Asia. In summary, Achaemenid Maracanda was a significant city in ancient Central Asia, serving as a vital link between the Persian Empire and the various regions of the Silk Road. Its strategic location, cultural diversity, and economic prosperity contributed to its prominence in the Achaemenid world and its lasting legacy in the history of Central Asia.

Prospering from its location on the Silk Road between China and the Mediterranean, at times Samarkand was one of the greatest cities of Central Asia. By the time of the Achaemenid Empire of Persia, it was the capital of the Sogdian satrapy. The city was taken by Alexander the Great in 329 BC, when it was known by its Greek name of Marakanda. Along with Bukhara, Samarkand is one of the oldest inhabited cities in Central Asia, prospering from its location on the trade route between China and the Mediterranean (Silk Road).

Alexander the Great conquered Samarkand in 329 BC. The city was known as Maracanda by the Greeks. Written sources offer small clues as to the subsequent system of government. They tell of an Orepius who became ruler "not from ancestors, but as a gift of Alexander". While Samarkand suffered significant damage during Alexander's initial conquest, the city recovered rapidly and under the new Hellenic influence flourished.

There were also major new construction techniques; oblong bricks were replaced with square ones and superior methods of masonry and plastering were introduced. Alexander's conquests introduced into Central Asia classical Greek culture; at least for a time the Greek models were followed closely by the local artisans. This Greek legacy continued as the city became part of the various Greek successor states that emerged following Alexander's death: it would become part of the Seleucid Empire, Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, and Kushan Empire, successively. After the Kushan era the city declined; it did not really revive until the 5th century.

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