Samarkand, alternatively Samarqand, is a city in southeastern Uzbekistan and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Central Asia. There is evidence of human activity in the area of the city from the late Paleolithic Era, though there is no direct evidence of when Samarkand was founded; some theories propose that it was founded between the 8th and 7th centuries BCE. Prospering from its location on the Silk Road between China and the Mediterranean, at times Samarkand was one of the largest cities of Central Asia.
By the time of the Achaemenid Empire of Persia, it was the capital of the Sogdian satrapy. The city was conquered by Alexander the Great in 329 BCE, when it was known by its Sanskrit name of Markanda, which was rendered in Greek as. The city was ruled by a succession of Iranian and Turkic rulers until it was conquered by the Mongols under Genghis Khan in 1220. Today, Samarkand is the capitol of Samarqand Region and one of the largest cities of Uzbekistan.
The city is noted as a centre of Islamic scholarly study and the birthplace of the Timurid Renaissance.