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Notes on the Geography of Uzbekistan: Samarkand: Bibi Khanum Mosque: Photo 5

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A closer view.  Tamerlane had 150,000 people working on his construction projects in Samarkand in 1404.  In the Zafarnama of Sharaf ad-Din 'Ali Yazdi, we read: "Five hundred stonemasons from Azerbaijan, Fars, Hindustan, and elsewhere had been summoned to work on this mosque, not to mention the laborers who quarried the stones in the mountains and transported them to the city.... Ninety-five elephants had to be brought from India to Samarkand to roll the huge blocks...  The dome would rank supreme were it not for the sky itself; and so would the arch of the iwan were it not for the Milky Way." Of Timur's involvement, Sharaf continues: "He would arrange for much meat to be cooked and brought, and then he would order them to throw portions of the same down to the workmen in the foundations, as though one should cast bones to dogs in a pit, and a wonder to all he even with his own hands did this."

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