Guri Amir Mausoleum, Samarkand, Uzbekistan
Gur-e Amir is Persian for "Tomb of the King". This architectural complex with its azure dome contains the tombs of Tamerlane, his sons Shah Rukh and Miran Shah and grandsons Ulugh Beg and Muhammad Sultan. Also honoured with a place in the tomb is Timur's teacher Sayyid Baraka.
The earliest part of the complex was built at the end of the 14th century by the orders of Muhammad Sultan. Now only the foundations of the madrasah and khanaka, the entrance portal and a part of one of four minarets remains.
The construction of the mausoleum itself began in 1403 after the sudden death of Muhammad Sultan, Tamerlane's heir apparent and his beloved grandson, for whom it was intended. Timur had built himself a smaller tomb in Shahrisabz near his Ak-Saray palace. However, when Timur died in 1405 on campaign on his military expedition to China, the passes to Shahrisabz were snowed in, so he was buried here instead. Ulugh Beg, another grandson of Tamerlane, completed the work. During his reign the mausoleum became the family crypt of the Timurid Dynasty.
In 1740, Nadir Shah tried to carry off Tamerlanes sarcophagus, Nader idolized Timur, the most sucsessful conqueror from Central Asia. He imitated his military prowess and especially later in his reign cruelty, but it broke in two. This was interpreted as a bad omen. His advisers urged him to leave the stone to its rightful place.
The second time the stone was disturbed was on June 19, 1941 when Soviet archaeologists opened the crypt. The anthropologist Mikhail Mikhaylovich Gerasimov was able to reconstruct Tamerlane's facial features from his skull, and it was also confirmed that he was 172 cm in height, a giant for his day, and would have walked with a pronounced limp. Further historical information about the assassination of Ulugh Beg and the authenticity of the other graves was also confirmed. Timur's skeleton and that of Ulugh Beg, his grandson, were re-interred with full Islamic burial rites in November 1942, at the beginning of the Battle of Stalingrad.
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