IN SEARCH FOR AL-ANDALUS, Part III. - Uzbekistan and the Silk Road


The contribution shows the close relationship between the Silk Road, the ancient Uzbekistan and al-Andalus, the Medieval Muslim Spain. From 10th to 15th century al-Andalus was the country with the highest cultural, technical and scientific level in the Western World. From al-Andalus, all innovations and scientific discoveries and knowledge spread out to Medieval Europe.
So, the question was: "What had the Silk Road and the old Uzbekistan to do with al-Andalus, the Muslim Spain?"


in Morocco – Syria – Uzbekistan – Jordan – Iran

Part III. – Uzbekistan and the Silk Road

©Isabel Blanco del Piñal



in Morocco – Siria –Uzbekistan – Jordan – Iran

©Isabel Blanco del Piñal

Content of series by chapters

Part I. Marokko und Al-Andalus (published, German language only)

Part II. Syrien und Al-Andalus (published, German language only)

Part III. Die Seidenstraße, Usbekistan und Al-Andalus (published, German language only)

Part III. The Silk Road, Uzbekistan and al-Andalus (English, published)

Part IV. Jordanien und Al-Andalus (published, German language only)

Part V. Persien und Al-Andalus (published, German language only)


Cover picture: Mosque Holo Bauz, Bukhara/Uzbekistan

Remark: All other chapters of “In Search of al-Andalus” are only available in German language

Contact: RoseNoire, Gisela Fischer and Isabel Blanco del Piñal

D-81827 München/Germany – Tel. +49(89) 439 53 21 – Fax +49(89) 439 75 89

Email : all books and publications on our website:

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Uzbekistan, the Silk Road and al-Andalus

Famous traditional Uzbek fabric pattern. It is

used with cotton and also silk fabrics

This part of my journeys "In search for al-

Andalus" shows the indirect but crucial

importance of the Silk Road and Old

Uzbekistan as to the economic, scientific and

cultural splendour of al-Andalus, the Medieval

Muslim Spain.

The legendary trade route started in China and

contributed significantly to the so-called

"Golden Age of Islam" (8.-13.Jh.) in all

countries which were crossed by the Silk Road:

historic Bactria and Sogdia (todays Northern

Afghanistan, the southern parts of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan), Iran, Irak, Siria and

Istanbul. But Silk Road was not only a simple trade route for transportation of all kinds of goods.

Other, rather more valuable „merchandise“ was transported along its course: breakthrough scientific

inventions, trailblazing discoveries, advanced technical innovations and even religions were spread

out from the Far East to the West and East thanks to the Silk Road: Buddhism came to Europe and

Christianism reached China.

It is undisputed that the most important discoveries and innovations came mainly from China, but

also from Choresmia, part of today’s Northern Uzbekistan. Thanks to the excellent trade relations

maintained with Arab countries all these innovations were also transmitted without a major delay to

the Muslim Spain, a land in the extreme West of the -at that time- known world. That was how al-

Andalus became the country with the highest cultural, economic, technical and scientific level in the

Western World. Any innovation and achievement was spread from Spain over all other countries of

the Europe of those days. For all my journeys I had the same questions:

From 8th to mid of 13th century the whole Arab world had an exceptional cultural splendor which is known

as “The Golden Age of Islam”. How did al-Andalus 1 , a country located at the extreme West of the earth 2 ,

reach that extraordinary level of scientific knowledge which even spread to the medieval Europe enriching

and inspiring the occidental culture?

During eight centuries a big part of the Peninsula had been the home country of the Hispanic Arabs. Even

today the religious tolerance of al-Andalus is still famous. In fact, this tolerance only existed for few centuries

in al-Andalus. In which country could I find parallels where this tolerance came from?

And what about the legendary richness of al-Andalus? Until the Arab conquest 3 , the inhabitants of the

Iberian Peninsula grew crops, raised animals and cultivated fruits. There was a moderate textile industry

based upon wool and cotton as well as mineral resources which all served to cover the personal needs.

In which country would I be able to find traces of the enjoyment of life of the Umayyads, the first Muslim

dynasty 4 after the death of the Prophet, in those days when Islam was young. Under the reign of the Spanish

Umayyads an exotic oriental refinement was unfolded in al-Andalus, too. And last but not least: Did the

Muslim ban on images exist since the very first times of Islam?

The Moorish Spain was famous for water works, hydraulic systems and beautiful gardens. From where did

the muslim Arabs get the technical knowledge on this field?

1 the Moorish Spain

2 before the discovery of America

3 reign of Visigoths until 711

4 their rule lasted from 661 to 750


What had the Silk Road and the old Uzbekistan to do with al-Andalus,

the Medieval Muslim Spain?

First of all let us have a look at the history of Medieval Arab Spain:

Map of Muslim Spain 711-1031

(dark brown=Muslim territories,

light brown: Christian Kingdoms)

Under the name of “Hispaniae”, Spain was part of the

Roman Empire from the year 201 BC until approx.

415 AD. Around the beginning of 5th century the

Roman Empire began to decline. During their long

history in the Near and Middle East, Romans had

discovered on the riverside of Euphrates and Tigris

the simple but effective Arabic water management,

such as agricultural irrigation systems or how to

guarantee the water supply for the cities.

In those times, Spain was an extremely fertile country

with moderate climatic conditions and when the

Arab sons of the desert concluded the conquest of

Spain in 711 AD, they believed having arrived at


Once the Arab conquest concluded, only few

Christian Kingdoms had survived in the extreme

North of Spain. So, from 711-1031 AD most of

Spanish territory was governed by Arab Emirs and Caliphs. In the beginning of 11 th century all al-Andalus was

affected substantially by a civil war. After that al-Andalus disintegrated into several small kingdoms, called Taifa-

Kingdoms. In 1095 until mid of 13th century, Muslim Berber dynasties from Morocco (Almoravids, Almohads)

reigned over Spain.

The Mosque-Cathedral in Cordoba (Andalousia)

During Muslim centuries the name of Spain was “al-

Andalus” and the inhabitants were called

Andalusians. Today we call the Spanish Arabs

commonly the “Moors” and their culture, “Moorish”.

Until 1031 AD all rulers of al-Andalus belonged to the

Umayyad dynasty. The origin and former capital of

Umayyad dynasties has been Damascus. In 8 th

century the Umayyad government was overthrown

by the Abbasids whose capital was Baghdad.

During 11 th century, Christians tried many times to

reconquer the Muslim territories. But it was a hard

and complicated task which required nearly

unlimited resources of money and manpower.

Christian rulers were always lacking both, meanwhile

Andalusians had more than enough of both. Why

they had so much money and manpower – we will

see that later. Most of inhabitants of al-Andalus were Muslim because also many Christians accepted to follow the

rules of Islam. That made life far easier. In addition, among intellectuals and young people, it became a kind of

fashion to be Muslim and to wear long, flowing white garments. Today we would say it was “cool” to be Muslim.

Jews had already come to Spain during Roman times, they did not convert to Islam but all those citizens who wanted

to keep their religious customs were allowed to do.


The School of Translaters in Toledo/Spain (14th century)

From 711 until nearly end of 11th century Arabs, Christians and Jews

lived peacefully together. Muslim rulers gave an utmost importance to

the education of all subjects living in al-Andalus, to all kinds of Sciences,

they strongly supported the Fine Arts, the craft and weaving industries.

Especially among Arabs and Jews there were excellent craftsmen and

artisans for all areas. Thousands of immigrants, craftsmen, artisans,

stone masons, master builders and scientists from Mediterranean

countries came to al-Andalus. The Muslim Spain was considered to be

the "land of boundless opportunities". Import and Export from and to

Mediterranean countries, such as North Africa, Italy, Turkey and Arabia

were strongly promoted, increasing considerably not only the richness of

the rulers but at the same time, also the economic and social well-being

of all citizens. One of the most important issues for the rulers were the

hygienic conditions and the safety in the streets of big cities: A wide

network for fresh water supply same as for the discharge of dirty water

was continuously amplified and improved. Just one example: In the 10 th

century Córdoba was the first City in Europe to have street lamps.

Since mid of 8 th century also a great part of Moroccans converted to

Islam. From Morocco thousands and thousands Berbers were recruited

to increase the Andalusian Caliphs troops. They had to defend the borders of the wide Islamic territory and were

constantly on the alert. In the European and in the Arab world al-Andalus became not only the epitome for

incredible richness of the rulers, for technical and scientific progressiveness in all areas, but also for religious


In the period from 12th to 13th century, most of scientific Arabic treatises were translated into Latin language at the

so-called School of Translaters in Toledo/Spain (in Spanish: Escuela de Traductores de Toledo).

The famous courtyard of the Lions of the Moorish castle “La Alhambra”

in Granada/Spain, built in 13th and 14th century.

This was possible thanks to few progressive Christian scholars (among

them a French clergyman) but mainly, thanks to the Christian Spanish

King Alfonso X., also called “The Wise” or “The Learned” (13th century).

At that moment of history Christians had succeeded to conquer Toledo.

King Alfonso X. was himself an acknowledged scientist with a huge

knowledge on many fields and he had soon recognized the priceless

value of the Arabic achievements. At the beginning of 12 th century,

highly qualified translaters Arabs, Jews and Christians started with their

difficult and huge task. Working hand in hand they succeeded to transfer

to Latin language all available scientific and philosophic handwritten

books and manuscripts containing all the knowledge of classical Arabic,

Hebrew (Jewish) and also of Greek antiquity. Until that moment, all

other European countries still had a poor cultural, technical and

scientific level. We can say that these translations literally enlightened

the cultural and technological “darkness” of the Medieval Europe.



The last Moorish Kingdom in al-Andalus was the vast territory of Granada. The city itself was taken by Christian

troops in January 1492. Christian kings had needed 3,5 centuries to reach their aim of reconquest. Granada and the

Moorish palace “Alhambra” will always be the symbol for the splendor and, at the same time, for the dramatic end

of a sophisticated high culture. But from the end of 9th/beginning of 10th century al-Andalus was the richest

European country, the country with the highest technological, cultural and scientific level in the western world. But

how Andalusians did succeed to reach such a high economic and cultural level? From geographic point of view, al-

Andalus was a country at the most outer end of the Western World.

From where did Andalusians get the input, the impulses for all innovations and for the development of huge

scientific knowledge, especially in medicine, astronomy and mathematics?

On Spice Bazaar, Aleppo/Syria

The period from 8 th to mid of 13 th century is

commonly called The Golden Age of Islam.

Arabic culture experienced an extraordinary

dynamic development and a cultural

splendor. Its origin was in Orient and

fertilized also al-Andalus. Until the decline of

Umayyad Caliphate (mid 8th century) in

Arabia, the muslim Spain got most of

commercial, scientific and intellectual input

from Damascus (Syria) and after that, the

informations were transmitted from

Baghdad (Abbasid dynastiy). All news and/or

innovations reached Arabia through the Silk


When caravans coming from the East arrived

to the Syrian city Palmyra the hardest part of

the trail was done. Palmyra was the turntable of all commerce coming and going to the West or to the East. Here the

Silk Road splitted up in two parts: one to the South (via Damascus along the Incense Road to Egypt and from there to

North-Africa) the other one to the West (via Aleppo to Turkey, then by ship to Greece and Italy). From there the

goods could be transported by land to other Western countries.

World map made by the Ancient Greek

historian Herodot (on the right side you may

see the words Sogdians and Bactra(also

Bactria) 5

Since the period of Sassanid dynasty

(around 540 AD) transport by sea to other

Mediterranean countries was also carried

out from the Syrian port “Seleucia Pieria”

(founded by a successor of Alexander the

Great). From mid 8th century not only trade

products, but also all kinds of scientific

knowledge and technical development were

transmitted from Baghdad (time of Abbasid

Caliphate) to al-Andalus. Favored by its

geographic location near Mediterranean

countries, the Syrian cities Damascus and

Aleppo continued during all centuries to be the commercial hub, the marketplace for the most important oriental

and Central Asian trade roads, even after the Ottoman invasion of Arabia and North Africa (Ottoman Empire: from

1299 until beginning of 20th century).

5 Author&source of picture: Bibi Saint-Pol,


The Silk Road and the Role of the Ancient Uzbekistan

Main Track of Silk Road from China through Central-Asia.

In ancient times Uzbekistan was a part of Sogdiana (also Sogdia) 6 . Sogdiana mainly consisted in the autonomous

provinces Bukhara, Samarqand and Panjakent in the Tajik province Sugd. Maybe the earliest information we have

about Sogdiana comes from the ancient Greek historian Herodot (also Herodotus, approx. 484-425BC). He included

Sogdiana in his (assumed) world map and in some of his works he already mentions a trade route from Far East to

the Western world. Many pioneering discoveries and innovations came from the ancient China. In fact, the ancient

Chinese had discovered some of the most important and progressive innovations the world had ever seen: they

discovered the papermaking, the art of silk manufacturing and how to weave precious and luxurious fabrics from the

threads of such noble material.

The naming Silk Road is relatively young: It was the German researcher von Richthofen who, in the 19th century gave

that name to one of the oldest trade routes which ever existed. But Silk Road is indeed a proper name because when

trade started along that trade route, Chinese merchants paid all kind of products which they highly appreciated

(among them, horses from Fergana Valley) with enormous quantities of silk.

The Silk Road worked in both directions. Together with green jade, spices from India, furs and porcelain, silk became

one of the most precious merchandise for Western civilizations, such as the ancient Greeks or Romans. Among many

other valuable goods, Mediterranean and Arab countries provided China and India with precious stones, with

incense from the Arabian Peninsula 7 , with gold, iron and glassware. The Silk Road was not at all a natural trail. From

China to Fergana Valley it was an extremely hard way and the track changed according to seasons and weather

conditions. At this point starts the role of the ancient Uzbekistan as one of the most important countries, maybe

even the most important one, not only for the Far East (China, India) but for all countries located westwards from

Central-Asia: Persia/Iran, Turkey, Syria as well as for the countries and cities mainly depending on medieval

Mediterranean Sea trade such as North Africa, Venice in Italy and (in the extreme West) al-Andalus, the Moorish

Spain. As 90% of Tajikistan consists in mountainous terrain, today’s Fergana Valley in Uzbekistan was the first fertile

and flat landscape which caravans reached after having overcome the hardest part of Silk Road: from China along

the border of the desert Taklamakan crossing the pass between the mountain ranges Tien Shan and Alai. Going to or

coming from India, the caravans had to cross the Khyber Pass, one of the world’s oldest mountain pass, a terribly

hard trail. It was already used for their conquests by Alexander the Great and his troops. Also Genghis Khan, same as

all Muslim invasions of South Asia and the Turkic-Mongols came through that pass 8 .

6 Please see Herodotus’ map of the World on page 6

7 Incense Road: from today’s Oman to Alexandria/Egypt and Damascus/Syria

8 Source&author: user Captain Blood),!Seidenstrasse_GMT.jpg


Courtyard of a caravanserai in Damascus. In

Syria a caravanserai was called “Khan”.

After having had a rest at Fergana Valley and

after having concluded their first deals,

caravans continued to the more than 2.500

years old Oasis-cities Samarkand / Afrosiyob

(also Afrasiab) and Bukhara. From Fergana

Valley on, the road was easier for men and

their pack animals. Approx. each 30-40

kilometers caravanserais were waiting for

them, this was the distance a caravan was

supposed to cover in one day. Along the

complete trail, caravanserais acted as a hub

for trade. The caravan leaders sold or

exchanged products, people from the

surroundings came to buy or to offer their

products. But caravanserais were the most

important centers for the exchange of all kind

of informations and/or news.

Expansion of the original trade road in Sogdian

times 9

After Alexander the Greats conquest (327 BC)

of Sogdiana (see map Herodotus), the

provinces Samarqand/Afrosiyob and Bukhara

organized the traffic along the Silk Road.

Sogdiana was not only a province it was also a

kind of commercial union of cooperation

between different more or less autonomous


We can compare that union somehow to the

very beginning of today’s European Union.

That cooperation was of utmost importance

because Sogdians enlarged considerably the

original Silk Road, creating a wide network of

different trade routes from Sogdiana to the

East, the South and the Western World. We

can say that from 2nd century BC until 10th

AD, Sogdians controlled the traffic on Silk

Road with only few interruptions.

Tthat kind of Joint venture was extraordinarily fruitful for all partners along the Silk Road. Regardless any political

situation of whether Sogdiana belonged to Transoxiania, to Persian, Sassanid or Samanid Empires, the Sogdian Union

of cooperation continued handling all the trade from West to Far East and back. Samarqand/Afrosiyob (Afrasiab) and

Bukhara became the market places for buying, selling and exchanging the most beautiful and valuable products.

These cities were the gateway, a kind of open corridor to all Western countries as well as to the Far East.

9 Picture: Map source+author: Liftarn, Feb. 2006) and


Wall painting from the archeological site Afrosiyob (Samarqand).

More picture information: Details of a copy of mural called The

Ambassadors' Painting, found in the hall of the ruin of an

aristocratic house in Afrosiyob, commissioned by King Varkhuman

of Samarqand (ca. 650 AD) 10 .

The archeological site Afrosiyob located on a hill just beside today’s city of Samarqand can give us an idea of the

radiance of that town which was inhabited at least since 250 BC. Other sources affirm that the origin of Afrosiyob

dates back to 6 th century BC. Afrosiyob was the splendorous centre of Sogdian culture, a kind of seigneurial district

with manorial residences. Around 1220 Dschenghis Khan conquered that part of Samarqand and Afrosiyob was

completely destroyed. However, some beautiful wall paintings survived and report from an intensive diplomatic

court life. Wall paintings in that area were extremely rare.

Only in the archeological site of ancient Panjakent (Tadschikistan), similar wall paintings have been discovered.

Historians therefore also refer to Samarqand and Panjakent as to the Central-Asiatic Pompeii. Samarqand and

Bukhara were not only two of the oldest and richest cities along the SilkRoad, but also the places of highest

intellectual and cultural level in Central-Asia. Their splendor sparkled until the decline of land trade due to rapidly

growing development of commercial maritime trade (mainly England, Portugal) between approx. 15th and 18th



10 Picture: Wikimedia Commons, Scan, Author unkown


The Silk Road – Instrument for Transfer of Knowledge and Innovations

But Silk Road was not only the most important trade road from Far East to the West. At those times neither letters

and post offices, nor telephone or Internet did exist. Thus, before the discovery of paper and book printing, all over

the world all kinds of news or events were transmitted from country to country through oral traditions.

Fabric merchant, Samarkand. Merchants

display includes silk, cotton, and wool

fabrics, as well as few carpets. Picture was

taken between 1905 and 1915 by Sergei

Prokudin-Gorsky (1863-1944) 11

The Silk Road turned to be theRoad of

cultural and scientific exchange”, an

instrument for the transport of ideas and

innovations, for the transfer of scientific

discoveries and new technologies. Even

religions took that trail: Christian

missionaries came along the Silk Road to

China and Buddhist monks went from India

to China and to Europe.

So we can say that the Old Uzbekistan was a

melting pot for all kind of cultures, a

turntable not only for trade of products, but

also for transfer of knowledge and technical

progress from Eastern countries to the

Western World and back.

The secret of silk production

Wooden weaving- loom still in use in

Morocco. In the village Bzou women

continue weaving fabrics for high priced men

clothing following the old Andalusian

tradition of mixing silk and cotton

Production of silk started in China probably

5.000 years ago in the 3rd or 2nd

millennium AD. It was forbidden under pain

of death to takeout from China silk worms

and eggs of the silk-spinner butterfly. During

2.000 years the secret could be kept.

According to an ancient legend, two monks

were successful in “exporting” eggs and silk

worms in their hollow walking sticks. Once

the secret of silk production and the very

first silk worms had succeeded to cross the

Chinese border towards the West,

Uzbekistan was one of the very first

countries to start cultivating and producing silk. Thanks to the excellent soil composition in Fergana Valley Area, the

mulberry trees grew nearly better here than in China.



Thanks to oral transmissions from traders travelling along the Silk Road to the West, the precious knowledge about

silk producing and the first silk worms were brought also to Arabia. Due to its hot and dry climate, Arabia was not the

best place to cultivate mulberry trees, but al-Andalus was an excellent country for that purpose. Andalusian Arabs

quickly learned how to produce silk and how to weave precious carpets, beautiful tapestries for the walls, pillow

covers, textiles as well as all kind of robes and dresses.

On the Southern flank of the Andalusian mountain range Sierra Nevada, the Spanish region Alpujarra offered the

best climatic conditions for planting and cultivating mulberry trees. All valleys and hills in that area were covered

with mulberry trees. In the Alpujarra area and around the Andalusian city of Granada there existed thousands of

small weaving-looms, we can say that nearly even the smallest house had a weaving-loom.

The Mediterranean town of Almeria (Andalusia) was the home port of the Caliphs large fleet of commercial ships.

We can read in historical chronicles that in the 11th century, around 5.000 wooden-looms were counted in Almería

and every week dozens of ships to all Mediterranean ports were loaded with all kinds of silkware.

Even though Venice (Italy) also had a silk weaving tradition at that time, the typical Arabic oriental patterns and

colors were highly demanded not only in Arabia or North Africa but even by Christian rulers, noblemen and feudal

lords. Among several other lucrative essential merchandises the trade based upon silk production and weaving

industry was one the main income of all rulers of al-Andalus.

The Art of papermaking …

Arab handwritten prayer book, 18th/19th century.

… also came from Far East. Traces were found that China used paper since the 2nd century BC. Before that, Chinese

chroniclers wrote and even painted on silk or on tablets of bamboo. For valuable and precious manuscripts Arabs

used gazelle (gazal) skin/leather. But that new Chinese invention marked a new era in the history of human

evolution. Papermaking spread from Far East across the Western World. First it reached those countries and cities

located along the Silk Road which displayed a high intellectual level, as it was the case of Uzbekistan during the socalled

Golden Age of Islam in Central Asia same as in Arabic countries (9th century to 13th).

Papermaking started in Samarqand and Bukhara mid 8th A.D. and end of 8th century in Baghdad. By the end of 10th

beginning of 11th century it was transmitted to al-Andalus. From Spain the art of papermaking was transmitted to

the rest of Europe in 13th century. A new industry was born contributing not only to a dynamic economic

development but representing one of the strongest impulses to the development of Commerce and Sciences, of Fine

Arts and Literature the World had ever seen.



The Sciences: Medicine and Mathematics

Avicenna/Ibn Sina explaining human body to some students.

Picture taken at Avicenna Museum, Afshona (Bukhara)

Without any doubt two more sensational contributions to the

worldwide intellectual, technical and industrial developments are

due to scientists who were born and/or partially lived in Old


The first personality is the scientist Ibn Sina (in Europe: Avicenna)

on the field of Medicine. Ibn Sina was born arnd. 980 AD in

Afshona/Afshana (near Bukhara), he died 1037 in Hamadan

(today: in Iran). In the Eastern as well as in the Western world,

Ibn Sina is considered to be the father of medicine. When he was

born, Bukhara was the capital town of Samanid Empire. Due to

the high number of scholars living and teaching in Bukhara at

that time, the city was also known as Bukhara the learned or

Bukhara the erudite.

Ibn Sina was an exceptional allround-scientist: He wrote treatises

about medicine, philosophy, astronomy, psychology, physics etc.

However, his most famous works are about medicine, such as the

Book of Healing (philosophical and medical encyclopedia) or his

Canon of Medicine (only medicine). Since the 10th century his

discoveries and exact instructions about diagnosis, about use of

(mainly natural) medicines, surgical techniques and healing of all

kind of diseases (even cancer and eye diseases such as cataract), were applied not only in Central-Asia and Arabia,

but also in al-Andalus. He was also the first to point out how important the music can be for the process of healing.

In 12th century, in the Spanish town of Toledo, the Canon was also translated from Arabic into Latin language. Since

then, and until the mid of 17th century that most famous work of Ibn Sina /Avicenna in Latin language was the basic

standard book for medicine students at all universities in Europe.

Monument to al-Chuarizmi, Khiwa, 2013,


The second world-wide famous scientist is

al-Chuarizmi (also: al-Khwarizmi, al-

Chwarizmi, al-Khorezmi), whose discoveries

also travelled along the Silk Road until they

came to Europe.

He was born around 780 AD in some

(unknown) city in the wide Kingdom

Khorezm (Khoresm, Khorasan), which at

that time expanded from the counties in

the North of Uzbekistan to Iran in the

South. He died somewhere between 835

and 850 (probably near Baghdad). Very few

details are known about his life. But we

know that he was a scholar at the House of

Wisdom (Bait/Bayt al-Hikma) in Baghdad

(during Abbasid Empire).


Page from a Latin translation of al-Chuarizmis second most

important work. (Cambridge, University Library, Ii. 6.5.).

Document begins with: “Dixit algorizmi…” (Thus said al-


Generally speaking, without his exceptional contribution on the

field of mathematics, no technical or technological development

could have been possible. Similar to Avicenna who can be

considered as the father of modern medicine, al-Chuarizmi’s

scientific work was later on considered as the base of algebra

and logarithms, although the basis for his studies and the

knowledge about the use of Arabic numbers had its origin in


Thanks to his work the Arabic numerals from 1-10 were

introduced in the Eastern and Western World. The word Algebra

has its origin in the Arabic word al-dschabre, word included in

the title of one of his most famous books: al-Kitāb al-mukhtaṣar

fī ḥisāb) al-dschabre wa-l-muqābala. The word logarithm has its

origin in the Latin version of his name al-gorism.

Content was about arithmetics and the arabic title was probably:

The Book of Addition and Substraction according to the Hindu

Calculation. The first Latin translation of al-Chuarizmis

mathematic treatises was written in the School of Translaters in

Toledo/Spain, probably in 12th century. These works also

marked a turning point in the Western civilization. Until that

moment, Roman numerals were still in use in the Western part

of the World, except in al-Andalus, (Spain). The introduction of Arabic numerals in Europe was similar to a cultural

revolution. The Roman Catholic Church fought a long and fierce battle against the introduction of calculation with

Arabic numerals. The basis of Christian views on the world seemed to be severely shakened 12 .


12 Page from Latin manuscript (Cambridge, University Library, Ii. 6.5.),

beginning with 'DIXIT algorizmi', Baldassarre Boncompagni invented the title 'Algoritmi de numero Indorum' in 1857" Scanned

from facsimile (1963). Translation probably 12th century by Adelard of Bath. PD Old.

(Uploaded by user U3001, 14th June 2006, 22:39)


And last but not at all at least, tales and Legends

Storyteller on a oriental market place

The Silk Road contributed not only to the richness of cities and

countries and to the development of technical and scientific

knowledge. Since most ancient times the trade road served as a

means of transportation to bring news from one edge of the

world to the other. During the evenings in the caravanserais,

merchants and caravan leaders (cameleers) sat together eating or

having some tea and talking about what they had seen and heard

in the different cities along the trail. So, since the very first

beginning of Silk Road history, the traders also transmitted tales

and legends.

One of the best examples for oral transmission is the marvelous

collection of the Tales of the 1001 nights.

Most scholars agree that the very first tales date from 3rd century

and came by oral transmission probably from India. In Persia, they

became known around the year 500 AD, during Sassanid Empire.


Below: 2 pages from the so-called Galland manuscript, one of the oldest handwritten edition

of the 1001 Nights. Arabic manuscript dating back to the 14th century from Syria, kept at

Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris 13

13 / Author unknown.



Nowadays the Tales are considered to be one of the most famous fairytale books and belong to classic literature. In

ancient times, the city of Samarqand must have been so famous all over Central-Asia and Far East, that the cities

name is eternalized in the Tales, quite at the beginning of the Tales: One of the key persons of the frame story is

Shah Zaman or Schazzenan, “Sultan (King) of Samarkand” (Samarcand). He is the brother of Shahryar (also Shariyar,

Shaharyar etc.), a fictional Persian Sassanid King who is told stories by his wife Sheherazade (also Šahrzad or


Upon the discovery of papermaking the Persian version was probably written down in the 9th century and was

translated into Arabic language in 10th century. A book titled Fihrist of the Muslim scholar Muhammad bin Is'hāq al-

Nadim is a huge Index of the books in all nations, Arabs and non-Arabs, existing in Arabic language and/or script, in

every field of knowledge (appeared in 936 AD). The Tales of 1001 nights are mentioned in that Index.

The earliest edition titled Arabian nights did not contain all the stories included in today’s editions. Over the

centuries the number of tales grew considerably, being enriched by folk tales and/or legends from different

countries, mostly of Persian and Arabic origin, such as the Tale of Caliph Harun al-Rashid. Other stories came from

Egypt. Even the French author Antoine Galland added some oriental stories at the moment when translating the

Tales for the first time, such as Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. That first European edition was published 1704 in

France. The Tales were translated into every global language and continue to delight all generations.

Part of an Uzbek Suzani, a traditional handicraft product. The pomegranate is symbol

of good luck and fertility, same as in al-Andalus, the Moorish Spain. The name of the

city of Granada (Andalusia/South of Spain) comes from the Spanish word for




Madrasa Nadir Devonbegi, Square Lyabi Hauz, Bukhara


A direct connection between Silk Road, Uzbekistan and al-Andalus

cannot be denied. Without the Silk Road’s function as a means of

transport for knowledge and discoveries, without Sogdians

dynamic cooperation to strongly promote the trade on Silk Road

in ancient times, the cultural development of the World would

have been considerably delayed.

Even today, the Uzbek part of the Silk Road still fullfills part of its

original purpose of transmitting and expanding knowledge. The

Golden Age of caravan trade by Road is long past, but travelers

who follow that legendary route are deeply impressed by all they

learn about its history and the splendorous cultural past of the

cities located along that ancient trading route. Visitors also see

that the cultural, architectural and artistic heritage of the Golden

Past of Silk Road was carefully restored and preserved. So I can

really affirm that I found answers to some of my questions about

the origins of richness and high technical and scientific level of the

Moorish Spain.

The very first beginnings were in Central-Asia, more exactly in the

splendorous Uzbek cities along the Silk Road and their very

dynamic development. In addition I found something even more precious: Through all centuries of its eventful and

sometimes difficult millenary history, Uzbekistan was influenced by many different civilizations. It was a melting-pot

of different cultures, from Far East same as from the West. Today’s Uzbek nation, however, seems to have kept the

best from each and upon that base its own and very individual culture was born. I sincerely hope that even with

growing tourism, Uzbekistan may keep this very own and special personality which has its roots in the countries

millenary history. The irresistible flair of the country is not only due to beautiful historic buildings or to the special

charm of cities like Samarqand, Bukhara or Khiva. It is the whole which makes Uzbekistan so fascinating: the

medieval architecture of the legendary Silk Road Cities, the millenary history of the country, to preserve religious

and pious customs and showing respect for old cultural values and traditions even among young people. All that

contributes that Uzbekistan continues to be a “mythical land”, a country where visitors are enchanted by feeling the

magic of long past centuries, appreciating at the same time the careful approach to modern times.

“Ming Rahmat O’zbekistan! – Thank you so much Uzbekistan …!”



GESCHICHTEN AUS AL-ANDALUS (3. Auflage/3rd edition)

Die Königreiche Taifas, ein andalusischer Traum

Isabel Blanco del Piñal

Vorwort von Frau Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Annemarie Schimmel

Geschichten, Geschichte und Gedichte: Die Autorin schreibt lebendig und

abwechslungsreich über Glanz und Untergang der maurischen Kultur in

Spanien. Viele Jahrhunderte lang pflegten arabische Literaten und Chronisten

die Tradition der, jede auch noch so winzige Kleinigkeit erfassenden,

Überlieferungen. Sie verknüpften historische Fakten mit dramatischen

Geschichten, mit Lyrik und Prosa jener Zeiten, mit amüsanten oder tragischen

Anekdoten aus dem Leben von Königen, Dichtern, Wesiren, Philosophen oder

Prinzessinnen. Ihre Chroniken bieten eine Überfülle an Informationen und

enthalten auch Palastgeflüster, bösartige Intrigen, bewegende Liebesgeschichten

oder Eifersuchtsdramen – zuweilen lesen sich diese Schriften wie

orientalische Märchen.

Isabel Blanco del Piñal hat diesen Schreibstil übernommen und lässt nicht nur die Blütezeit der maurischen

Hochkultur noch einmal aufleben, die auch die abendländische Philosophie, Wissenschaft und Religion inspiriert und

bereichert hat. Sie erzählt auch von dem dramatischen Untergang der spanischen Araber. Die Geschichten aus al-

Andalus sind ursprünglich in drei Bänden erschienen. Bei der ersten überarbeiteten und erweiterten Neuauflage

wurden sie in einem Sammelband zusammengefasst. Die liebevoll gestaltete hochwertige Veröffentlichung erschien

als Hardcover.

64 Bilder in nostalgisch-braunem Duplex-Druck, 224 S. – 16x21cm, ISBN 978-3-933653-07-9

Inhaltsverzeichnis und Leseprobe finden Sie auf unserer Website



Isabel Blanco del Piñal

Bereits im 4. Jahrhundert n.Chr. verließen die alten Araber ihre Halbinsel, um die

angrenzenden Kontinente zu erkunden. Im äußersten Westen gebot ein Furcht

einflößendes und legendenumwobenes Meer ihrem Entdeckungsdrang Einhalt.

„(...) Dort im Okzident beginnt das westliche Meer, das man auch das Meer der

Dunkelheit nennt. Weiter darüber hinaus weiß niemand, was dort existiert (...)“

schrieb der Geograph al-Idrisi im 12. Jahrhundert. Dort, am Ende des

afrikanischen Erdteils, lag ein Land, das die Araber al-Maghrib al-aqsa nannten,

„den äußersten Westen“ - ein Land am Rande des Sonnenuntergangs.

Isabel Blanco schöpft wieder aus der reichen Fülle der überlieferten Literatur und

verleiht der bewegten Geschichte des Königreichs Marokko menschliche Züge:

Im Land der Berber erwachen Sultane und Poeten zu neuem Leben, heilige

Männer und Geistwesen sind der Ursprung für faszinierende Legenden. Daneben

lässt die Autorin auch eigene Reiseeindrücke einfließen. Große Bedeutung

kommt der Epoche vom 11. bis zum 14. Jahrhundert zu in der die Schicksale von al-Maghrib und al-Andalus, dem

arabischen Spanien, besonders eng miteinander verbunden waren. Dicht an dicht sind die andalusischen Ornamente

in den farbenprächtigen Teppich der marokkanischen Geschichte eingewoben.

Es ist ein lebendig geschriebenes Portrait eines Landes in dem historische Zusammenhänge aufgedeckt werden und

sich Vergangenheit, Traditionen und Gegenwart zu einem schillernden Mosaik zusammenfügen.

Hardcover, 304 S. – 38, ganzseitige Bilder (S/W), 17x21cm

ISBN 378-3-933653-06-2 – Inhaltsverzeichnis auf


ROSEN DER WÜSTE – Die Architektur in der arabischen Literatur

von María Jesús Rubiera – Übersetzung aus dem Spanischen von Isabel Blanco

del Piñal

ROSEN DER WÜSTE – ein poetisches Symbol für die prunkvollen, märchenhaften

Bauwerke der arabischen Architektur. Ihre Paläste und Gartenanlagen wurden

aus der Wüste geboren. In der Fantasie der Beduinen verwandelten sich Hitze

flimmernde Trugbilder in Türme und Kuppeln, die vor Gold und Edelsteinen

glitzern, und dem erlösenden Wohlgefühl bei der Ankunft in schattigen, grünen

Oasen sind üppig blühende Gärten mit leise plätschernden Wasserläufen

nachempfunden. Die arabische Architektur inszenierte ein dynamisches

Schauspiel, erfüllt von Licht, Farben, Klängen und Düften. Sie erschuf Bauwerke

als Lustobjekte und Orte der Lust zugleich.

Die Autorin gibt in diesem Band mittelalterliche Texte von arabischen Chronisten,

Hofpoeten und Reisenden wieder. Sie beschreiben bis ins kleinste Detail die

ehemalige Pracht von Städten, Palästen, Moscheen, Bädern und Gärten im alten

Arabien und im islamischen Spanien. María Jesús Rubiera interpretiert Fakten und Legenden, jedoch ist dies keine

Abhandlung über Kunst oder Archäologie. Es ist eine lange Reise durch die arabische Architektur mit weit geöffneten

und verträumten Augen – ein Buch verführerischer ferner und fremder Visionen.

Paperback, 256 Seiten, 20 x15cm, ISBN 978-3-93365305-5

Inhaltsverzeichnis und Leseprobe auf



Eine Auswahl der schönsten Verse und Gedichte

Aus der spanischen Maurenzeit

Die überlieferte Lyrik in diesem Band lässt den verführerischen Zauber von al-

Andalus, dem maurischen Spanien, wieder auferstehen. Sie beflügelt unsere

Fantasie und erfüllt uns mit einer unbestimmten Sehnsucht, die unsere Seele

wie eine sanft gezupfte Saite vibrieren lässt. Ist es unser Verlangen nach

märchenhafter, schwärmerischer Romantik, nach einer heilen Welt die heute

mehr denn je in fast unerreichbare Ferne gerückt scheint? Doch die Zeiten, die

uns hier bewegen, waren keineswegs nur paradiesisch. Die Anthologie spiegelt

auch ein Gesellschaftsbild wieder und am Ende erwartet uns, wie eine historisch

logische Folge, die raue Wirklichkeit, denn der Zauber von al-Andalus zerbrach

an der christlichen Rückeroberung.

Isabel Blanco del Piñal führt mit Versen und Gedichten durch die Glanzzeit der

maurischen Kultur bis hin zu ihrem dramatischen Untergang. Abschließend lässt sie auch zeitgenössische arabische

Dichter mit ihren Klagen über den Verlust vom Paradies al-Andalus zu Wort kommen. Die Verse und Gedichte sind

chronologisch nach Jahrhunderten geordnet und mit zahlreichen Erläuterungen zum Hintergrund ihrer Entstehung

versehen. Hardcover, 144 S., 21x17cm, ISBN 978-3-933653-08-6

Leseprobe auf

Vorwort kostenlos als PDF lesen unter:

Unter dem Titel: Historische Arabesken – Die hispano-arabische-Dichtkunst



Ein Ritter, ein König und ein Poet: Drei Jahrhunderte spanische Reconquista

Isabel Blanco del Piñal

Nach den „Geschichten aus al-Andalus“, in denen Isabel Blanco del Piñal die

Geschichte Spaniens von der arabischen Eroberung der Iberischen Halbinsel im

Jahre 711 bis zum Untergang der maurischen Kultur im Abendland mit der

Stimme und aus der Sicht der spanischen Mauren erzählte, widmet sie in diesem

Band ihre Aufmerksamkeit der Gegenseite, der spanischen Christenwelt. Drei

berühmte Persönlichkeiten führen durch die drei wichtigsten Jahrhunderte

zähen Ringens um die Reconquista, die christliche Rückeroberung des

muslimischen Spaniens: der Ritter Rodrigo Díaz aus Vivar (11. Jh.) kurz "der Cid"

genannt, König Alfons X. von Kastilien und Leon (13. Jh.), dem die Nachwelt den

Beinamen „der Gelehrte“ verlieh und Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (16./17. Jh.),

der Autor des Don Quijote von der Mancha.

Alle drei waren sie Grenzgänger zwischen den Religionen und Kulturen, ihr Leben

und ihr Vermächtnis führen anschaulich vor Augen, wie facettenreich das Verhältnis von Christen und Mauren im

damaligen Spanien bis über das Mittelalter hinaus war. Sie zeigen uns Welten politischer Grauzonen und innerer

Zerrissenheit, und es wird in jedem Fall offenbar, dass nichts so war, wie es auf den ersten Blick scheint. So

unterschiedlich sie von ihrem Stand her waren, haben sie doch etwas gemeinsam: Mit Leidenschaft lebten sie ihre

Visionen, sie verfolgten unbeirrt ihre Ziele und vollbrachten Außergewöhnliches. Und wenn auch das Leben jedes

Einzelnen, aller Berühmtheit zum Trotz, nicht einer gewissen Tragik entbehrt, haben ihre Werke und Taten sie doch

unsterblich gemacht.

Hardcover, 21x16cm, 100 Bilder in Farbe, 440 S.,ISBN 978-3-933653-09-3

Inhaltsverzeichnis auf

The last critics (14. Juni 2014) for the title (in German) …:


you find under:

Mrs. Birgit Agada is a well-known travel journalist and also writer of own travel literature. She is specialized

in Arabic and Northafrican countries and cultures.


RoseNoire - Gisela Fischer – Isabel Blanco del Piñal

Günderodestraße 20, D-81827 München (Germany)

Tel. +49 (0)89 439 53 21 – Fax +49 (0)89 439 75 89




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