The 's Historical Atlas Of Central Asia

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For millennia, civilizations on either side of the Eurasian Continent exchanged both products and ideas through the complex networks of the Silk Route. Central Asia, given its strategic position on this route, long served a critical role at the crossroads between East and West. However, while cultures on both ends of the networks have by and large been extensively researched, Central Asia — despite its centrality — is frequently ignored or marginalized; rather than claiming a separate area of study, it oftentimes retreats to the peripheries of a larger grouping, whether the Islamic world, the Sinosphere, or the Russian Empire. Yuri Bregel, on the other hand, proposes an alternative perception of the region. He contends that Central Asia…show more content…
Climate is a dominant factor in the development of Central Asian civilizations. In the first map, titled “The Principal Geographical Features and Provinces,” Bregel paints the environmental conditions of each locale with rich details (3). Deserts cast a pervasive presence in the map, limiting both human movement and patterns of settlement. Because of Central Asia’s high aridity, most population centers lie on the banks of Amu-Darya and Sir-Darya, the main rivers in the region, as well as their tributaries. These circumstances, together with the ubiquity of mountains in the south, produce a series of sedentary provinces such as Ferghana and Khorezm that are relatively isolated from one another. Furthermore, the deserts act as a natural barrier disjoining the mountain-based farming communities from the vast steppes to their north, where a more temperate climate and flat terrains encourage nomadic ways of life. Conflicts often arise when the two groups intersect, and the struggle between sedentary city-states and nomadic empires comprises a key theme in the history of Central Asia.
Nowhere is the distinction between the two categories more apparent than in the drawing of political boundaries. Bregel explains in the preface that “various Central Asian states knew to protect their
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