The History of Great Silk Road

“Dear reader!

History resembles a constant flow of life. Its wheel poured light as well as casted a shadow on people’s fate.
Millenniums rewarded Turkmen people – the most ancient nation of the world, with fame, blessed and delightful life, and ever­burning light.
 The Creator endowed Turkmen people with majestic for tune, land of plenty, wisdom and ever­lasting happiness. There is an ancient legend among people.  The life and history of Turkmen people who conquered numerous continents in the Middle Ages and advanced harmony, friendship and prosperity on these lands excited interest of one of the Arabian caliphs. He summoned his confidants, ulemas and wise viziers to whom he said, ‘What is the secret of the Turkmens’ long­lasting governing. They are able to settle right away and find common ground with local people. They have a good luck; their wishes and dreams always come true. The Turkmens have a brave heart of that of a lion. They are cheerful people. I want you to learn their secret. Gather and write down all of the talks about them and bring it to me. I will read, learn and understand.’
Thus, scholars and confidants under the direction of vizier commenced looking for information in the largest libraries of those times. The main vizier ordered wanderer merchants who were able to spread all hearsays to distant lands as well as storytellers and ravis to send what information they have to the court of caliph. Consequently, the assembled information formed tens of books. Scholars selected the ace of aces from piles of books and learned ten reasons that described the particular features of Turkmen people and were ready to present them to the caliph. The caliph in his turn thanked scholars with the words, ‘You have done a good job! If I consider these reasons carefully, then I will be able to understand the particular features of the Turkmens.’ Then he turned to vizier and said, ‘By the way, there is no one who knows these records better than you, as you learned them thoroughly. So, tell me the secret of their success and good luck.
 ‘The great caliph, there are so many reasons and evidences, that the only one will be enough to prove the greatness of the Turkmens. They are the nation that is destined to triumph, conquer, build, create and maintain the peace which is evidenced by hadiths of a prophet and historical narratives. It is said that the wise scholars, ulemas, leaders and military leaders will come of the Turkmens. They are reminded as an all­powerful men of great courage after natural powers such as fire, water and wind. They are destined to conquer and triumph if they save their unity. This is the only secret,’ replied the vizier. The caliph being satisfied with an answer ordered, ‘Get the all assembled records together and write a book so our generations could learn and take as a model the noble fate of Turkmen people.
 Thus, every nation has a historical obligation to the generation of mankind starting with its formation till the foundation of a state. This is the Turkmens’ fate to build, create, develop and promote fellowship among nations, protect prosperity and set human dignity above all else. Therefore, the Turkmens stood at the gates of victorious paths and were in the centre of cultural and ideological development, served as the strength of uniting the continents and took initiatives in universally significant beginnings at all times. The leading role in raising and active functioning of the Great Silk Road, every side of which deserves to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage List belongs to Turkmen people.
 The Great Silk Road occupies an importance place in the history of the Occidental and Oriental nations. Historical records, archeological finds, ethnographical and literary values and the nations’ spiritual heritage heighten interest in this road ever more. It became the golden road that influenced greatly the heroic fate of mankind and immortalized fellowship and friendship among the nations of the world. The whole world is proud with the legacy left by the Great Silk Road at the beginning of the third millennium. Since, the ancestors of many peoples had put their heart into this international trade route, guarded and created all the conditions for its activity.  Today, the feeling of pride for glorious history encourages us to future destinies.
 In the third decade the large­scale reforms are realized in the independent Turkmenistan in all spheres of the socio­economic and social life. The formation of the national model of the developed, socially­oriented market economy is one of the main directions of these radical transformations. When economic reforms are implemented, it is natural that the experience of leading countries of the world is taken into account, however, these methods are not introduced mechanically, but they are creatively processed in the concrete local conditions. The reformation of the Turkmen economy is based on the national peculiarities of the Turkmen people, it is rather original and it proves its value by the high indices of the gross domestic product and per capita incomes.
 Transition from the social economy, which dominated during seven decades of the 20th century, to the free market was not simple for the citizens of our country. But there was a longer period in the history of Turkmenistan, it lasted for many centuries, when the Great Silk Road flourished and rich experience was accumulated in the sphere of the domestic and foreign trade, manufacture of high­quality agricultural products and craft articles which were sold not only in the Turkmen cities and villages, but also brought to the remote countries in the West and East. There are many evidences that in the old days the craft of the weavers achieved great prosperity in the Turkmen land. Brocade woven there was in a great demand in China, India and other countries of the world. Our ancestors could not only produce excellent goods, but they could sell them and bring them to the large distances.
 As it is known, Turkmenistan occupies an extremely favourable geographical position due to its location on the strategically important crossroads of the international communications lines. It is not surprising that we take active steps in the transport and communications sphere in order to realize the existing huge transit potential with a maximum result and achieve new economic levels. For this, we develop a ramified transport and communication infrastructure in Turkmenistan. On the one hand, it gives us an opportunity systematically to develop our national economy and realize social programmes, which promote the improvement of the well­being of the Turkmen people as the final result. And on the other hand, it gives an opportunity to establish and strengthen wide international cooperation in the interests of the universal peace, stability and sustainable development.
 To turn Turkmenistan into the important link of the world communications space, we have initiated the large­scale projects in all branches of the transport sphere, allotting great investments. The formation of the North­South transit­transport corridor and its joining the East­West transcontinental transport route provide a wide access for the countries of Eurasian continent to the markets  of  Europe,  Near  and Middle East, Central, Southern and South­Eastern Asia.
 Thus, the role of Turkmenistan as the largest international logistic centre in the formation of the ramified transcontinental infrastructure of the transport service corresponds to the interests of the global integration and aims of the universal sustainable development. Besides, we continue constructing modern airports, terminals, railway stations, seaports, of engineering and technological objects meeting the highest international standards.
 All this promotes the revival of the Great Silk Road in the modern conditions, and it makes the huge potential of the bilateral and multilateral cooperation with neighbouring countries in the transport and communications sphere needed.
 Natural gas, oil products, inorganic chemical goods, cotton fiber, fabrics and cotton yarn, finished textile goods, licorice extract as well as rawstock and leather, wool, salt, iodine, sulfur, cement and others are considered to be the main kinds of the products exported from Turkmenistan. The list of the imported goods begins with the technological equipment, ferrous metals products, electrical machines and equipment, transport means, railway locomotives, different kinds of devices and optical apparatuses, furniture, aluminium and plastic goods and many other things.
 The Turkmenistan­China lar gest gas pipeline in the world, figuratively saying, has become the Great Silk Road revived in the modern conditions, which strengthened the friendship of our countries and people in trade­economic and cultural­humanitarian cooperation. And, it is important that this largest gas main line in the world, running via the territories of a number of countries, takes into account the interests of all participants of the energetic partnership – producers, transiters and consumers, and this promotes the strengthening of the stability and flourishing of the huge regions.
Deposits of “the Bagtyyarlyk” contractual territory situated on the right bank of the Amyderya River are the raw materials base for the Turkmenistan­China transcontinental gas pipeline. The Chinese National Oil and Gas Corporation (CNPC) carries out the development and exploitation of the fields situated in this territory. At present, due to joint efforts, Turkmen gas is delivered to the many regions of China, up to the coast of the Pacific Ocean. But it is far from being the limit of our possibilities. Relying on the results of the independent international audit, the authoritative experts have repeatedly confirmed the fact that Turkmenistan disposes of the large resources of hydrocarbons. But it concerned only a part of our resources – already explored. The prospectors continue to study the subsoils of Turkmenistan, presenting new data about their practically inexhaustible riches.
 Possessing the richest hydrocarbon resources, we continue the realization of the energetic strategy of increasing the amount of production and oil and gas processing, diversification of export of energy carriers to the different countries of the Eurasian continent. We purposefully and regularly solve large­scale tasks of the development of the new deposits both on the land and in the sea. We develop the innovative production of petrochemical goods which are in great demand in many countries of the world. And it provides opportunities to establish mutually beneficial international cooperation in the strategic oil and gas sphere with all foreign partners.
 These are the scales of future accomplishments, in the Era of Might and Happiness the policy of the historical transformations opens splendid perspectives before our country opens! Fully realizing what a great role our young state can play in the world economy and in expansion of the ties of Europe and Asia, we make all our diplomatic efforts for further strengthening of peace and stability in the entire region, because it is the main condition of the implementation of our large­scale plans and further progress of mankind.
 The years of independence are marked by the growing interest of the society in the remote past of our Motherland and in the contribution which the brave ancestors of the Turkmen people have made to the history of civilization. In ancient and medieval times, the most important international trade routes passed via the territory of Turkmenistan from China to the Near East via Amul, Merv, Serahs, Abiverd, Nisa, from the countries of the Middle East to Russia via Dehistan and Koneurgench, to India via Zemm (modern Atamurat). In the territory of our country there are dozens of the historical towns, large and small, which can reveal the grandeur of the Silk Road. The depth of their memory is an inexhaustible.
 Scientific researches confirm that two branches of the Silk Road that connected China and Mediterranean countries started from the Taklymekan steppes and mainly functioned in two directions.
 First direction heads for north and stretches through the Tien Shan along the Tarim River to Kashgar, then through the Pamirs to Fergana Valley, the territories of Samarkand, the Amur River, through the lower course of Amyderya to the Aral Sea, then through the lower course of the Volga River to the northern parts of the Black Sea, and from there it continues towards distant lands.
 Second direction turns to south, along the northern hillside of the Kunlun Mountains through the territories of Khotan, Yarkant, Bactria, Turkmenistan, then stretches through Hecatompylos, Ecbatana and the territory of Achaemenid Empire and recedes to Syria. One more branch extends from Turkmenistan to North India, and another one continues towards the Caspian Sea and terminates in the Occidental countries.
As you see, at all times, the branches, bright and happy routes of the Great Silk Road from all parts of the world lead to the heart of the Earth – into the arms of Turkmenistan. Taking its rise in our sacred land, the roads of friendship and fellowship as well as economic cooperation and tourism stretches confidently to all continents.
 Here we would like to mention that 2016, which passed under the name “The Year of Reverence for Heritage, Reforms in the Motherland”, was full of many deeply substantial events. That year the great work on the study and propaganda of our national values was carried out, these values can be compared with the glitter of the diamonds radiating their light from the depth of centuries and having a great significance for science, history and culture. That year each citizen of Turkmenistan could realise the essence and meaning of that knowledge and notions revealing the contents of these values. We would like to emphasize that patriotic feelings raise the spirit, give strength, enrich the life experience and revive each person. In the Year of Reverence for Heritage, Reforms in the Motherland I have created the whole cycle of my conclusions and thoughts concerning the stories heard from people in different years and facts read from many books, as well as materials about our rich national cultural heritage and history. I am sure that later this knowledge will be useful for the solution of many vital issues. Archaeological excavations in Paryzdepe located on the outskirts of Ashgabat and in other archaeological sites of our country, and ethnographical research study in neighborhood villages were started in 2016. We are proud of the progress of our Turkmen scholars, journalists and broadcasters made in a short space of time. Examining the priceless samples of spiritual heritage preserved in ancient Turkmen settlements, ethnographers in their scientific researches confirmed their essential role in the development of universal culture.
 That year my books titled ‘Tea – Medicine and Inspiration’, ‘Swift Step of a Racehorse’, ‘Heavenly Beauty’, ‘Music of Friendship and Brotherhood’ that tell of an essential contribution of Turkmen people to the world culture were published.
 I will mention that essence of this conversation has emerged on their basis. At present, the development of many­sided programmes concerning the further development of the independent, permanently neutral Turkmenistan in the complex conditions of the modern world requires thoroughly considered approaches. It demands the concretization of the thoughts about the world economy, history of people, geographical conditions and culture.
 The Great Silk Road has left an indelible trace in our history. The Turkmen culture formed along its way, between the Caspian Sea in the west and Amyderya River in the east, between the Ustyurt Plateau in the north and the range of Kopetdag Mountains in the south spread all over the world by means of these routes and the roots of Oghuz wisdom extended to all continents. Here people from different cultures met and exchanged the accumula ted experience, skills, discoveries, ideas and spiritual values, religious revelations spread. Consequently, the Great Silk Road turned into a power connecting the continents. Turkmenistan occupied an important place in the scene of history as a heart – motive power of this international trade and cultural road.
Today, the history of the Great Silk Road is interesting because it makes all of us to look at the sources of our national culture and comprehend other cultures; it does not allow this treatment to turn into chauvinistic contempt for other cultures, because the essence of the historical process which created and supported the Great Silk Road, lies in the exchange, in the dialogue of cultures.
 The centuries­old experience of the Great Silk Road teaches us the main thing – the dialogue of cultures and the culture of dialogue, this is the important thing, which our ancestors possessed perfectly. It forms the basis of a wisdom. Remembering it, we try to restore the tie of times, to know better and preserve our common past and to strengthen the foundation of good neighbouring relations among all peoples.”

Material is taken from the book of Hero Arkadag Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov “Turkmenistan – the heart of the Great Silk Road”.