ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan (09 / 13) Just hearing the phrase Silk Road conjures up images of mystical sights, intrigue, and romance. For centuries the Silk Road held great global economic significance, and today travelers can go with Steppes Discovery and famed archaeologist Iain Shearer along part of this fabled route in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
The trip’s superb 16-day itinerary includes several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and begins in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. While in Turkmenistan travelers can step back in time and see spectacular ruins in places like Nisa, which is believed to have been one of the first capitals of the Parthian empire, and Merv, one of the most well-preserved cities from the early days of the Silk Route. Iain will also take adventurers to see Kunya-Ugrench, another UNESCO site, and the former capital of Khorezmshah Empire.
After spending the first half of the trip soaking in these beautiful ancient sites in Turkmenistan, travelers will cross the border and enter Uzbekistan. The first few days will be spent basking in the splendor of Khiva’s many grand palaces and mosques, and even relaxing in a traditional hammam. Next Iain will lead the group to Bukhara, the former capital that boasts more than 300 mosques, with superb features like the Kalon Minaret. From there the group travels to Samarkand where they will explore the region’s highlights like the remains of the ‘White Palace,’ the ancient city of Afrosiab, Registan Square, and the Mausoleum of the Prophet Daniel. The trip concludes in the 2,000 year old city of Tashkent, which is also the nation’s capital. The city boasts stunning historical quarters from the 16th century and an excellent art museum.
The Silk Road’s name was initially derived from the lucrative silk trade that was the genesis for this ‘Road’ during the Han Dynasty. However other goods as well as ideas, religions, and even diseases, like the Black Plague, traveled along this fabled route. This trail also was responsible for economic and cultural development throughout China, the Indian subcontinent, Persia, Europe, and Arabia.
Shearer’s critically acclaimed work focuses on development and conflict archaeology, and he has overseen excavations in Nishapur, Iran and in the Ferghana Valley in Uzbekistan. He currently holds a Research Affiliate Position at the Centre for Applied Archaeology at University College London and is the British Museum’s Sackler Scholar for Iran and Afghanistan. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society.
The trip is from May 1-16, 2014 and September 11-26, 2014 and costs $5,592 including international flights, and $4,072 excluding international flights.
For more information please contact http://www.steppesdiscovery.co.uk/ or call 1 855 2527606 (toll free)