In a place called Shakhrisabz, about 80 kilometres south of Samarkand, Uzbekistan, a giant monument to the 14th-century Mongol khan Temor (Tamerlane) marks the place he was born. The towering statue of Temor cues what is to come: on a tour of the city of Samarkand itself, even more references to one of the country’s most important historical figures are to be found, including the heavily-restored mausoleum where he was buried.
The Gur-e Amir (which translates to ‘tomb of the king’) is steeped in both rich architecture and legend. Its construction began in 1403 after the death of Temor’s most beloved grandson, who is also buried there. The Persian-style building features a single turquoise copula, ribbed and detailed with ornate rosette pattern. The dome tops an octagonally-shaped building that is also highly detailed with ornamental mosaics and epigraphs.
Is Temur really buried in this mausoleum? In 1941, the tomb was unsealed to verify the remains as Temur’s. The excavation was successful in the sense that the skeleton’s damage matched descriptions of the injuries Temur received in battle that caused his death and confirmed that the remains are indeed his.