The city is noted for being an Islamic centre for scholarly study.In the 14th century it became the capital of the empire of Timur (Tamerlane) and is the site of his mausoleum (the Gur-e Amir).During the next two hundred years, Samarkand would be ruled by a succession of Turkic tribes, including the Seljuqs and the Khwarazm-Shahs. It is the most fruitful of all the countries of Allah; in it are the best trees and fruits, in every home are gardens, cisterns and flowing water. Although Genghis Khan "did not disturb the inhabitants [of the city] in any way", according to Juvaini he killed all who took refuge in the citadel and the mosque, pillaged the city completely and conscripted 30,000 young men along with 30,000 craftsmen.
In 1370 the conqueror Timur (Tamerlane), the founder and ruler of the Timurid Empire, made Samarkand his capital.
During the next 35 years, he rebuilt most of the city and populated it with the great artisans and craftsmen from across the empire.
By the time of the Achaemenid dynasty of Persia it had become the capital of the Sogdian satrapy. There were also major new construction techniques; oblong bricks were replaced with square ones and superior methods of masonry and plastering were introduced.
Alexander's conquests introduced classical Greek culture into Central Asia; at least for a time the Greek models were followed closely by the local artisans.
After the Arab conquest of Iran, the Turks conquered Samarkand and held it until the Turkic khaganate collapsed due to wars with the Chinese Tang Dynasty.
During this time the city became a protectorate and paid tribute to the ruling Tang.
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 exactly Samarkand was founded; some theories propose that it was founded between the 8th and 7th centuries BC.
Prospering from its location on the Silk Road between China and the Mediterranean, at times Samarkand was one of the greatest cities of Central Asia.
It remained part of the Chagatai Khanate (one of four Mongol successor realms) until 1370.