Major Events Relevant to Central Asian History

Part 1 (up to 1600)

by Mark Dickens

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c. 1200 BC
The Cimmerians begin to occupy the South Russian Steppe.

c. 700 BC
The Scythians replace the Cimmerians in the Steppe region

6th cent. BC
The Invasion of Transoxiana by the Achaemenids of Persia under Darius I and Cyrus.

4th cent. BC
The Samartians begin to absorb the Scythians.

329-28 BC
The Invasion of Transoxiana and capture of Samarkand by the Greeks under Alexander the Great, resulting in the rule of the Greek Seleucids in both Bactria and Soghdiana.

250 BC
The Parthians take Soghdiana from the Greeks, leaving the latter to rule only in Bactria.

206 BC
The Han dynasty is established in China.

c. 200 BC
The Emergence of the Hsiung-nu (later known as the Huns?) on the western borders of China.

174-161 BC
The Hsiung-nu attack the Yüeh-chih (known in the West as the Tocharians), driving them from Gansu.

141-128 BC
The Yüeh-chih, fleeing from the Hsiung-nu, overrun the Greco-Bactrian kingdom, which is renamed Tocharistan.

138 BC
The first Chinese diplomatic mission to the Ferghana Valley, led by Chang Chien.

121 BC
The Chinese, under General Ho Chu-ping, defeat the Hsiung-nu.

106 BC
Diplomatic ties are established between the Chinese and the Persians.

102 BC
The Chinese capture Kokand.

51 BC
The Hsiung-nu split into two hordes, with the Eastern Horde subject to China.

AD 48
The Hsiung-nu Empire dissolves.

c. AD 50
Kujula Kadphises unites the Yüeh-chih to establish the Kushan Empire, stretching from Persia to Transoxiana to the Upper Indus.

c. AD 78-144
The reign of King Kanishka over the Kushan Empire (territory extended to include the Tarim Basin), with Buddhism as the dominant religion.

AD 97
Chinese armies reach the Caspian Sea.

3rd cent.
The decline of the Kushan and Parthian Empires and the incorporation of Soghd and Bactria into Persia under the Sassanian dynasty.

220
The end of the Han dynasty in China.

226
The Sassanians overthrow the Parthians in Persia.

4th cent.
The Mongolian Juan-juan Empire is formed in Mongolia.

c. 370
The Huns invade Europe from the Central Asian steppe.

440
The Hephthalites (White Huns, later known in the West as the Avars) move south from the Altai region to occupy Transoxiana, Bactria, Khurasan, and eastern Persia.

c. 460
The Hephthalites conquer the Kushans and invade India.

552
The Turks destroy the Juan-juan Empire and establish the Turkic Khaganate, nominally divided into Western and Eastern Khanates.

553-68
The Turks and Sassanians ally to destroy the Hephthalite Empire.

late 6th cent.
The Hephthalites move west to the Russian steppe to form the Avar Khanate.

570
The birth of Muhammad.

572-91
The Turks and the Byzantines ally against the Sassanians.

576
The Turks invade the Caucasus and establish the Khazar Khanate.

582
The Turkic Khaganate officially breaks up into Western and Eastern Khanates.

618
The Tang dynasty is established in China.

630
The Chinese occupy Mongolia (Eastern Turkic Khanate).

630-40
The Chinese subdue the Tarim Basin.

632
The death of Muhammad and beginning of the expansion of the Arab Muslim Empire.

642
The Sassanian Shah Yazdigird is defeated by the Arabs at the Battle of Nahavand.

642-51
The collapse of the Sassanian Empire under the pressure of Arab raids.

c. 650
The Khazars defeat the Alans and Bulgars, resulting in their domination of the Caucasus and the Volga region.

652
The Arabs first capture Khurasan.

659
Chinese forces penetrate into Transoxiana (Western Turkic Khanate).

661
The establishment of the Arabic Umayyad Caliphate in Damascus and the origin of the Sunni-Shi'ite split in Islam.

667
The Arabs defeat Peroz, the last Sassanian shah, and first cross the Oxus River(Amu Darya).

673/74-704
Arab raids across the Oxus in an attempt to capture Bukhara and Soghd.

682/83
The revolt of the Turks against the Chinese and the re-establishment of the Turkic Khanate in Mongolia.

689
The Arab occupation of Termez.

691
The reestablishment of the Eastern Turkic Khanate in the Tarim Basin.

705
The Arabs, under Qutayba ibn Muslim, launch a holy war against Transoxiana from Merv.

709
The Arabs capture Bukhara and Samarkand.

711
The Arabs capture Khiva.

712
The Arabs subdue Khwarezm and recapture Samarkand.

713
The Arabs sack Kashgar.

714
The Chinese, under emperor T'ai-tsong, defeat the Turks at Lake Issuk-kul.

715
The end of the Arab conquest of Transoxiana as a result of the death of Qutaiba.

728
Arab attempt to forcibly convert Transoxiana to Islam, resulting in general revolt.

744/45
The Uighurs defeat the Turks in Mongolia and establish the Uighur Empire.

748
The Chinese invade the Ferghana Valley.

749/50
The Abbasids seize the Caliphate from the Umayyads and subsequently transfer the capital to Baghdad.

751
The Arabs defeat the Chinese at the Battle of the Talas River.

mid-8th cent.
Semirechye and the eastern Syr Darya come under the rule of the Qarluqs while the western Syr Darya comes under the rule of the Oghuz (Ghuzz).

late 8th cent.
The Uighurs convert to Manichaeism under Khan Mei-yu (759-80).

820/21
The rise of the Tahirid Emirate in Khurasan, extending into Transoxiana.

840
The Kirghiz replace the Uighurs in Mongolia, who flee to Turfan to establish the Uighur Kingdom.

867-69
The rise of the Saffarid dynasty (Shi'ite) in Persia.

874/75
The Persian Samanid dynasty (Sunni) obtains the administration of Transoxiana, with its capital in Bukhara, from the Caliph.

900
The Samanids overthrow the Saffarids, thus extending their rule into all of Persia.

906
The end of the Tang dynasty in China.

924
The Mongol Khitans defeat the Kirghiz.

932
The Turkic Qarakhanid dynasty is established, with its initial center in Kashgar.

mid-10th cent.
The conversion of the Qarakhanids and Uighurs from Buddhism to Islam under Satuq Bughra Khan (d.955).

962
The Turkic Ghaznavid dynasty is established in Afghanistan.

965
The Kievan ruler Svyatoslav crushes Khazar political power in the Russian steppe region.

985
The Seljuq Turks, a ruling tribe of the Oghuz, move to the vicinity of Bukhara.

986
The Russians, in search of a religion, contact Muslim missionaries from Khwarezm, but decide not to adopt Islam.

988
The conversion of the Russians to Orthodox Christianity.

late 10th cent.
The pro-Shi'ite Persian Buwayhids end the political power of the Abbasid Caliphate by seizing control of Iraq and much of Iran.

999
The Ghaznavids defeat the Samanids in Khurasan and the Qarakhanids capture Bukhara, the Samanid capital.

early 11th cent.
The extension of Ghaznavid rule from Iraq to the Sind.

mid-11th cent.
The Qarakhanid Empire splits in two: one rules over Western Turkestan (Transoxiana), the other over Eastern Turkestan (the Tarim Basin).

1040
The Seljuqs defeat the Ghaznavids at the Battle of Dandanqan, near Merv.

1055
The Seljuqs, under Tüghral Beg, capture Baghdad, the Abbasid capital, from the Buwayhids, establish the Seljuq Sultanate, and become the official protectors of the Caliphate.

1060
The pagan Oghuz, known to the Byzantines as the Cumans, move into the Russian steppe.

1068
The Cumans defeat the South Russian princes.

1071
The Seljuqs, under Alp-Arslan, defeat the Byzantine emperor Romanus Diogenes at the Battle of Manzikert and establish the Turkish sultanate of Rum in Anatolia.

1073
The Seljuqs defeat the Qarakhanids.

1092
The death of the Seljuq sultan Malik-Shah, resulting in the division of the Sultanate into three parts: Nicaea (Anatolia), Hamadan (Persia), and Merv (Transoxiana and Khurasan).

1122
The Russians defeat the Cumans.

1124
The Tungusic Juchen drive the Mongol Khitans (Liao dynasty: 916-1124) from China, resulting in the creation of the Qarakhitai state in Semirechye.

1137
The Qarakhitai defeat the Qarakhanids (now vassals of the Seljuqs) at Khojent.

1140/41
The Qarakhitais defeat the Seljuq Sultan Sanjar at the Battle of the Qatwan Steppe, thus gaining power in Transoxiana.

1153
The overthrow of the Seljuq Sultanate of Merv by Oghuz mercenaries.

1155 (1162? 1167?)
The birth of Chingiz Khan.

1157
The death of Sultan Sanjar, resulting in the breakup of the remaining Seljuq Sultanate.

1194
The death of Tüghril III, the last Persian Seljuq ruler, resulting in the end of Seljuq power in Iran and the rise of the Turkic Khwarezmians in Transoxiana.

1206
Chingiz Khan becomes khan of the Mongols.

1209
The Mongols defeat the Kirghiz of the Yenisei, forcing them to flee south to the Tien Shan.

1209
The Uighurs, under Barchuq, submit to Mongol rule.

1210
The Khwarezmians defeat the Qarakhitais.

1215
The Mongols invade northern China, besieging and sacking the Jin capital of Yanjing (later known as Beijing).

1218
The Mongols capture Semirechye and the Tarim Basin, occupying Kashgar.

1218
The execution of Mongol envoys by the Khwarezmian Shah Muhammad sets in motion the first Mongol westward thrust.

1219
The Mongols cross the Jaxartes River (Syr Darya) and begin their invasion of Transoxiana.

1220
The Mongols capture Bukhara and Samarkand, defeating the Khwarezmians.

1221
The Mongol conquest of Khurasan and Afghanistan.

1223/24
The Mongols, in pursuit of the Khwarezmian shah, encounter the Russians on the river Kalka, where they defeat them.

1227
The death of Chingiz Khan, resulting in the division of his empire amongst his heirs, including Batu (the Kipchak Khanate, on the Russian steppe) and Chagatai (The Chagatayid Khanate, in Transoxiana, the Tarim Basin, and Semirechye).

1231
The Mongols defeat a resurrected Khwarezmian Shahdom.

1236
The second Mongol westward thrust begins.

1240
Kiev falls to the Mongols and Russia comes under the Mongol yoke.

1242
The Mongols stop their westward advance at the gates of Vienna.

1243
The Mongols defeat the Seljuqs at the Battle of Kösedagh.

1244
A group of Khwarezmians, fleeing from the Mongols, capture Jerusalem from the Crusaders.

1249/50
The establishment of the Kipchak Turkic Mamluke dynasty in Egypt.

1256
The Mongol Il-Khanid dynasty is established in Iran under Hülegü.

1258
The Mongols destroy Baghdad and bring the Abbasid caliphate to an end.

1260
The Mamlukes defeat the Mongols at the Battle of 'Ayn Jalut.

1260
The Kipchak Khanate divides into the White and Golden Hordes.

1260
The Mongol Yüan dynasty is established in China under Kublai Khan.

1270
The Uighur Kingdom is defeated by rebels.

1284
The Uighur Kingdom is absorbed into the Chagatai Khanate.

1294/95
The Il-Khanids convert to Islam under Ghazan Khan.

1299-1300
The Seljuq Sultanate of Anatolia breaks up into smaller principalities, to be succeeded by the Ottoman Turk Emirate, founded by Osman I (ruled 1290-1326).

1303
The Mamlukes stop the last Mongol invasion of Syria.

early 14th cent.
The Chagatai Khanate splits in two parts: Transoxiana (West) and Moghulistan (East).

1313-41/42
The rule of the Golden Horde by Khan Uzbek (1282-1342), under whom the Horde converts to Islam.

1326
The conversion of the Chagatayid Khan Tarmashirin to Islam.

1336
The end of the Il-Khanid dynasty in Iran.

1336
The birth of Timur.

1346-63
The rule of the Chagatai Khan Tughlug Timur in Transoxiana.

1363
Timur expels Khan Tughlug Timur and sets up a puppet Khan under his control.

1368
The end of the Yüan dynasty in China.

1369/70
Timur becomes the sole ruler of Transoxiana.

1377-95
The rule of the Golden Horde by Khan Tokhtamysh.

1380
The Russians defeat Mamay, Khan of the Golden Horde, at the Battle of Kulikova.

1380
The Golden Horde is amalgamated with the White Horde (together called by the former name).

1380-87
Timur conquers Iran.

1382
Tokhtamysh sacks and burns Moscow.

late 14th cent.
The Turfan Uighurs accept Islam.

1395
Timur defeats Tokhtamysh, destroys the Golden Horde capital of Sarai Berke, and briefly occupies Moscow.

1398/99
Timur defeats the Delhi sultanate.

1400
Timur defeats the Mamlukes in Syria.

1401
Timur destroys Baghdad.

1402
Timur defeats the Ottoman sultan Bayezid I at the Battle of Ankara.

1405
The death of Timur.

1407-47
The rule of Timur's son Shah Rukh (1377-1447) in Herat.

1407-49
The rule of Shah Rukh's son Ulugh Beg (1394-1449) in Samarkand.

1408
The emirate of the Black Sheep Turks is established in western Persia.

c. 1430
Part of the Golden Horde splits off to form the Khanate of the Crimea under Hajji Giray Khan.

1434
The rise of the Oyrat (Western) Mongols in Jungaria.

early 15th cent.
The Uzbeks move south to Transoxiana under Abu al-Khayr (1413-69).

1445
Part of the Golden Horde splits off to form the Khanate of Kazan.

1451/52-69
The reign of the Timurid ruler Abu Sa'id (1424-69).

1453
The Ottoman Turks capture Constantinople.

1464-65
The Muscovite Prince Ivan III (the Great, reigned 1462-1505) sends an embassy to Abu Sa'id.

1466
Part of the Golden Horde splits off to form the Khanate of Astrakhan.

1467
The White Sheep Turks defeat the Black Sheep Turks in Persia.

1478-1506The reign of the Timurid ruler Husayn Bayqara (1438-1506) in Herat.

1480
Ivan III throws off the Mongol yoke and proclaims himself Czar of Russia.

1490
Husayn Bayqara sends an embassy to Moscow.

late 15th cent.
The Kazakh Empire is established on the Central Asian steppes.

late 15th cent.
The decline of the overland trade routes, including the Silk Road, due to a new emphasis on trade by sea.

1497
Babur (1483-1530), the ruler of Ferghana, captures Samarkand.

1500
The Uzbeks capture Samarkand under Muhammad Shaybani Khan (1451-1510), thus taking over Transoxiana from the Timurids.

1501-11
Babur and the Uzbeks continuously battle to control Samarkand.

1502
The final collapse of the Golden Horde at the hands of the khan of the Crimean Tatar Khanate.

1502
The beginning of the Safavid dynasty in Persia.

1504
Babur establishes himself in Kabul.

1506
The Uzbeks capture Bukhara.

1507
The Uzbeks capture Herat, bringing to an end the Timurid dynasty.

1510
Muhammad Shaybani Khan is killed in the Battle of Merv against Shah Ismail, the Safavid ruler, resulting in the establishment of the Shaybanid dynasty in Transoxiana, with the capital in Samarkand, but political power increasingly centered in Bukhara.

early 16th cent.
The rise of the Khojas in Kashgar, later split into the Aq-Taghliqs (white-caps) and the Qara-Taghliqs (black-caps).

1514-33
The rule of the Eastern Chagatayid Khan Sayid, under whom the capital moves from Ili to Kashgar.

1517
The Ottomans defeat the Mamlukes, thus adding Egypt to their Empire.

1522
Babur captures Qandahar.

1526
Babur captures Delhi and founds the Moghul Empire in India.

1552
Ivan IV (the Terrible, reigned 1533-84) subjugates the Kazan Khanate.

1556
Ivan IV defeats the Astrakhan Khanate.

1557-98
The reign of the last and greatest Shaybanid ruler in Bukhara, Abdullah Khan II (1533-98).

1558-59
The first Russian commercial contacts with Transoxiana under Anthony Jenkinson.

1563-98
The reign of the last Shaybanid ruler of the Siberian Khanate, Kuchum Khan.

1570
The height of Oyrat Mongol power in Jungaria and Mongolia.

1571
The Crimean Tatars sack Moscow.

late 16th cent.
The Kazakh Empire divides into three hordes: the Great Horde (east), the Middle Horde (center), and the Lesser Horde(west).

1584
Yermak, the Russian Cossack leader, defeats Kuchum Khan at the Battle of Tobol River.

1598/99
The Astrakhanid dynasty, related to the Shaybanids by marriage, inherits power in Transoxiana, with their power base in the Khanate of Bukhara.

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© Mark Dickens 1995
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