History-maker Part 15: Timur - The art lover who destroyed cities

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 December, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 December, 2009, 12:00am

Nickname: Timur the Lame, which later became Tamerlan
Profession: conqueror and empire builder
Famous for: destroying cities and helping artists
Born: 1336
Died: February 19, 1405
Married: lots of wives and concubines

The deadly warrior who loved art

Find words that means: reached, violent, took control of, savage

Timur was a member of a fierce tribe called the Turkic Barlas. He lived in a country called Transoxania, which is now Uzbekistan.

He worked in the king's palace and became prime minister of Transoxania. But he wanted more. He ran away, gathered an army and went back to conquer Transoxania.

He was a brilliant soldier. After becoming king of Transoxania, he conquered an empire that stretched from Turkey to India.

He was a fierce warrior. In the city of Aleppo in Syria, he killed 20,000 people and made a pyramid of human skulls. In the city of Isfahan in Iran, he made a pyramid of 40,000 skulls. In Tikrit in Iraq he had 70,000 people beheaded. Historians think Timur had 17 million people killed in his lifetime.

But Timur also loved art. He brought hundreds of artists to beautiful mosques and palaces. They filled them with books, paintings, statues and mosaics.

In Uzbekistan, Timur is a hero. But in many other places he is remembered as a barbarian.

Fill in the gaps: wife, historians, tempt, mosque

Legend says that Timur had a beautiful Chinese ____________ called Bibi Khanym. One day Bibi Khanym decided she would give Timur a present. She ordered a famous architect to build a big _________.

But the architect fell in love with the queen. He refused to finish the work - unless he could give Bibi Khanym a kiss. When the architect kissed her, his lips left a mark on her cheek. When Timur saw the mark, he killed the architect and ordered all women to wear veils so that their beauty would not ___________ men.

But ______________ have proved this famous story is untrue. Timur didn't have a wife called Bibi Khanym. Timur ordered the building of the mosque himself to celebrate his victory over India. And women were wearing veils centuries before Timur was born!

Amazing Samarkand

Find words that mean the opposite of: separated, insignifi-cant, hated, created

Samarkand city was built about 2,400 years ago. It lay on the Silk Road, the trade route that connected China to Europe.

Samarkand became the most important city in Central Asia.

It was destroyed by Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan in 1220. But by the time Timur was born, Samarkand was rebuilt.

Although Timur was born in the city of Kesh, about 80km away, Timur loved Samarkand so much that he made it his capital.

Because of its history, Samarkand is now a Unesco World Heritage site.

True or false?

To test your memory, try answering without referring to the text. If you can't remember the details, read the piece again

1 Timur lived about 600 years ago.

2 Timur was Prime Minister of Transoxania until he rebelled and became king.

3 Timur created an empire that included most of Europe.

4 Timur made pyramids with thousands of human skulls.

5 Timur hated artists and killed every artist he could find.