The role of Сentral Asia in world civilization

This article examines the concept of the nomadic civilization of the peoples of Central Asia. In the article, the authors consider the issue that the nomads of Central Asia had a triad of signs of civilization, including monumental architecture, writing and cities.The civilizational status of traditional nomadic societies should be associated with the existence in them of a special type of culture - the culture of pastoralists. The authors prove that a nomadic civilization existed in the Central Asian region, defining it as a socio-cultural formation, a "supersystem" that has taken a fairly strong place in human history. Central Asia is a point of the world connecting North and South, West and East, through which not only trade routes, like the Great Silk Road, diplomatic, research, and confessional missions passed from ancient times, but also from it the great conquests of the world began (Attila, Tamerlane, Babur). Tnis point stopped the historical campaign to the East of Alexander the Great, who founded the city of Iskenderabad (present-day Khujand in Tajikistan). Genghis Khan whose offspring played a great role in the history and culture of the region left a deep mark. All these interconnections have given rise to many cross-cultural values of the Central Asian civilization, giving it a special flavor of receptivity and openness.


Central Asia has been at the crossroads between Europe and East Asia for a century. For a long time, the region was also a religious, scientific and cultural center of the Islamic world.

The history of Central Asia has been largely determined by the geography and climate of the region. The arid climate created difficulties in agriculture, and the considerable distance from the sea did not make it possible to trade by sea. The influence of the Steppe nomads was great in this area for thousands of years. However, the first proto-cities appeared in Central Asia more than 4000 years ago.From the 2nd century BC to the 16th century, important routes of the Great Silk Road passed here, international trade and cultural exchange between the civilizations of Europe and the East took place. More than 2400 years ago, the most ancient Khorezm writing arose in Central Asia. Central Asia was the birthplace of the world religion of Zoroastrianism. Ethnic and religious tolerance has been a feature of the peoples of Central Asia for thousands of years.

Methodology and research methods

The article used materials of theoretical and practical research by both domestic and foreign scientists. The methodological basis of the study is the principle of historicism, which involves the history of the emergence of civilization in Central Asia and its place and role in world civilizations. This method was chosen for the purpose of a comprehensive study of the development of civilization of the Central Asian states, revealing their interdependence and interdependence with internal and external processes.The inclusion of five states in the research object is due to the active use of corporate methods.In the proposed article, in addition to the theoretical and methodological substantiation of the existence of the civilization of the Turkic-Mongol peoples, an analysis of the religious, mythological and ideological mechanisms of its organization and selforganization is presented.


For the short historical period that has passed since the collapse of the USSR, the new independent states of Central Asia went through a certain stage in their development and revealed some development trends in the economic, political, and cultural fields of these countries. These factors make it possible to assert that Central Asia is beginning to form as a separate independent region [1]. In this connection, the general world interest in this region is growing. Central Asia has always been a strategically important region and it has attracted the attention of the world community. The more Central Asia develops as an independent region, the more urgent becomes the study of the history of this region. One of the important points is the role of this region in the development of world civilization.

Central Asia has always been a fairly integral and unique cultural and historical space, formed due to the common historical destinies of the peoples inhabiting it, geographical conditions and the action of common cultural laws. Moreover, a special role in this phenomenon was played not only by the unity of ethnocultural processes, but also by the absence of internal borders, which determine constant large-scale contacts within the region. Central Asia was a kind of "meeting place" of world religions: Christianity, Islam and Buddhism, the mutual influence of the cultures of the Turkic-Mongolian, Indo-European, Finno-Ugric, Sino-Tibetan peoples. Ultimately, this determined a special mentality, cultural stereotypes and traditions of ethnic groups, as well as the multi-ethnicity and multi-confessional nature of the region. Ethnocultural processes played an extremely important role in the general continental processes of ethnogenesis, in the formation of the languages of many ancient, medieval and modern peoples of Eurasia. Thus, being an ethnocontact zone, Central Asia largely determined the fate of the peoples of the entire Eurasian continent. The commonality of historical destinies, which has developed over the course of three to four millennia, can be traced in numerous written sources, attested in well-known historical facts, and confirmed by archaeological discoveries. This commonality is an obvious constant throughout the entire historical time of our region.

For centuries, Central Asia has been linked by ethnic, cultural, economic ties, and from time to time has been united politically. For the Central Asian (Turkestan) intelligentsia of the early 20th century, the historical and cultural unity of the region was obvious. However, during the period of delimitation and after it, most of the efforts of the intelligentsia were channeled to the nation building in the framework of the Soviet state, which took place through the separation in principle of the indivisible historical and cultural heritage. The reason that national construction took place by emphasizing, and at times artificially finding differences, lies precisely in the historical, ethnic and cultural proximity of the peoples of Central Asia [2].

The lands of modern Central Asia were inhabited by humans back in the Stone Age, by the 6th-5th millennia BC, settlements of early farmers appeared in the south of Turkmenistan, living on the periphery of the area of the most advanced Middle Eastern civilizations at that time. Starting from the 2nd millennium BC Central Asian oases are becoming centers of agriculture, but on the whole, the transition to agriculture and cattle breeding, producing forms of economy, in the vastness of the CAR was completed approximately by the 3rd millennium BC.Since the Bronze Age, the correlation and interdependence of different economic and cultural types, namely, nomadic and semi-nomadic cattle breeding with sedentary agriculture, has been determined. If on the lands of Central Asia, South and Southeastern Kazakhstan, East Turkestan, the ratio of nomadic and sedentary agricultural cultures was in favor of the latter, then in most of the steppes of Kazakhstan, the deserts of Turkmenistan and Karakalpakia, the opposite picture was observed, which left an indelible imprint on the history of the region in the next millennia.

As early as 4500 BC, some small communities in the region settled and began to engage in agriculture and cattle breeding. During the same period, some of these communities began to domesticate the horse. At a time when nomadic tribes dominated the arid plains, small city-states and agricultural communities were still developing in the wetter parts of Central Asia.

The strongest of the Sogdian cities in the Fergana Valley occupied an advantageous position on the way from Asia to Europe. These cities were enriched by the Great Silk Road after the 1st century [3].

Later, the steppes of Central Asia were inhabited by the Turks, Scythians, Mongols and a number of other peoples. Despite ethnic and linguistic differences, the nomadic way of life made the peoples similar to each other.

Researchers S.P. Tolstov and V.A. Shishkin in their works established that the mostancient states of Central Asia in the VIII-VII centuries BC were Khorezm and Bactria [4].

Another center was the area in the basins of the Zeravshan and Kashkadarya rivers, called Sogd (Sogdiana). In the 8th century BC, the capital of the state, Marakanda (Samarkand), was founded here.

The ancient state association - the Ancient Bactrian kingdom had connections with Assyria, New Babylon, Media and the Indian principalities.

The Hunnish state became the first power of the nomadic peoples of the world, setting an example of the Mongol Empire. After the success in the Hunno-Chinese wars, the Chinese states will try to expand their power to the west, but, despite their military might, the Chinese powers have not been able to conquer the entire region.

The Persian Empire managed to capture part of Central Asia up to the mouth of the Syr Darya River, and the Macedonian Empire that replaced it spread the Hellenistic culture there. After the death of Alexander the Great and the wars of the Diadochi, Central Asia was taken over by the Seleucid Empire.

A nomadic civilization was formed simultaneously with others. In East Asia, the "liberation struggle" against the "barbarians" (Huns, Khitan, Jurchen, Mongols, Manchus) ended only at the beginning of the last century. Thus, the “medieval period” can also be designated as the time of direct interaction of two civilizational zones (in Europe, “Romanesque” and “Germanic” principles, in East Asia, the Han by origin of China and “nomadic empires” of the Turkic-Mongolian area).

This classical era of the existence of a nomadic civilization can be divided into three periods:

  1. Hunnic (3rd century BC - 5th century AD) - the era of the great migration of peoples, when the political map of the Great Steppe and adjacent territories (China, India, Europe) changes, and new ethnocultural communities are formed.
  2. Turkic (VI - XII centuries AD) - Turkization of Central Asia, Steppe, Southern Siberia.
  3. Mongolian (XII - XIV centuries). The apogee will be the existence of the state of Genghis Khan. As a result, a new ethnic and political map will be formed [5].

The cultural processes that took place in steppe Asia were no less important for world history than those that took place in the settled zone. All large regions (Europe, Islam, India, China and the Golden Horde), largely thanks to the nomads, were integrated into a single geocultural and macroeconomic space. Nomads actively participated in the creation of common Eurasian cultural values, social institutions, active development of new lands, influenced the pace and direction of development of many peoples and states, participated in the emergence of international communications and relaying of information created in cultural centers. One of the most important results of the convergence of nomadic and sedentary societies will be the feeding of Islam to one of the most ancient Asian cultures - the Turkic [6].

XIII - XIV centuries became a special "seam" in Eurasian history, and it was the nomads who played a key role in creating a new geopolitical structure in Asia. This especially tangible contribution of nomads is practically still assessed extremely negatively, as destructive. Meanwhile, the movements of the nomads are just a part of the huge Eurasian, in fact, "the second great migration of peoples." This first phase of the formation of a new world order is characterized by traditional methods of solving urgent problems (external expansion, resettlement). It was necessary to remove the old "feudal" structure of society, which was already outliving itself. This is evidenced by the wide spread throughout Eurasia of cities that are becoming not only political or military centers, but also centers of craft and trade. In Europe, the so-called "Catholic" zone is being distinguished, characterized by an emphasis on the development of the urban economy, foreign trade, "socially useful" scientific knowledge and rationalist philosophy. Asian civilizations begin an economic reorientation towards the oceans. The movement of nomads turned out to be the most effective means of the final removal of the remnants of tribal reinforcement. As a result, a new ethnic map of Eurasia has come down to us. In Europe, a similar picture is observed, when the French, Germans, British, Russians finally come to replace the old Franks, Goths, Celts, etc. The “heroic” feudal elite, focused on the agrarian economy and robbery, was also removed by force. New transcontinental connections have been established. A new cultural map has also appeared. In all these processes, nomads played not only the role of “street sweepers”, but also participated in the ethnic, political and cultural structuring of space.

Since the XIII century. throughout Eurasia, a new cultural revolution in the form of "rebirth" is unfolding and a certain anti-nomadic component will be present everywhere. This is not surprising, because the powerful surge of the “dumb” nomadic mass that flooded the whole of Asia became a “challenge” for almost all sedentary civilizations. It was necessary to "put things in order" after this flood, and in this activity one can clearly see the enormous and hard work of filtering not so much a different ethnic mass as of organizing rather haphazardly thrown ideological and cultural information [7].

The ethnic stage of the formation of the civilizational space of the future Russia begins with the Mongols. At first, Southern Siberia and the Steppe were difficult to connect and a kind of "Genghis Khan zone" was formed, where the community was traced through him and his deeds. Religiously and culturally, there is great diversity here (Islam, Buddhism, shamanism), but the connecting factors are following the “path of the fathers” and “the spirit of Qenghis”.

A. Toynbee compared the civilization of nomads with the civilizations of agricultural peoples, he believed that the former have some advantages over the latter. Toynbee, in particular, attributed to them the domestication of animals. He believed that this is a higher art compared to the domestication of plants, since here we see the victory of the human mind over less obedient material. Nomads, according to Toynbee, would not have been able to win a victory over the steppe, to survive in a harsh natural environment, if they had not developed intuition, self-control, physical and moral endurance [8].

N.V. Abaev drew attention to the essential role of self-organization in the formation of traditional societies in Central Asia, their subsequent transition to the level of civilization. He is convinced that a high level of self-organization in nomadic societies persisted during the transition to imperial forms of statehood, in which the desire for a rigid centralization of power in the hands of the supreme ruler was dialectically combined and combined with the tendencies of self-organization at the "lower" levels of power relations, where communal forms of self-government [9].


Central Asia is more than just a link, it is a place of historical action, the consequences of which have been felt far beyond its borders - both in Asia and in Europe. The Central Asian region is a meeting place for Christian, Islamic, Buddhist civilizations, the mutual influence of the Turkic-Mongolian, Indo-European, Ugro-Finnish Sino-Tibetan, which was reflected in the processes of ethnogenesis, the formation of the languages of many peoples of Eurasia. The absence of internal borders led to constant contacts. The roots of the emergence of the statehood of the peoples of Central Asia and Kazakhstan go back to ancient times. As a result of the movements of ethnic groups, as well as endless wars for a long time, the Central Asia regions were part of various states, such as the state of the Achaemenids, Macedonian and Seleucids, the Greco- Bactrian, Parthian and Kushan kingdoms, the Hephthalite state, etc.

Since ancient times, Central Asia has been a single cultural and historical zone, where a single political space existed for many centuries.



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  2. Uskembayeva, A.A. (2019). Formation of national identity in Central Asia. Bulletin of the Karaganda University. Philosophy History Series, 3(95). 80–85. Retrieved from–95–3/11.pdf.
  3. Suhareva, О.А. (1976). Ocherki po istorii sredneaziatskikh horodov. Istoriia i kultura narodov Srednei Azii [Essays on the history of Central Asian cities. History and culture of the peoples of Central Asia]. Moscow [in Russian].
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  6. Sagdullaev, A. (2000). Sredniaia Aziia i Indiia — formirovanie rannikh putei istoriko-kulturnykh sviazei. Indiia i Tsentralnaia Aziia (doislamskii period) [Central Asia and India — the formation of early paths of historical and cultural ties. India and Central Asia (pre-Islamic period)]. Tashkent [in Russian].
  7. Staviskii, B.Ya. (1974). Iskusstvo Srednei Azii. Drevnii period [Art of Central Asia. Ancientperiod]. Мoscow: Iskusstvo [in Russian].
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  9. Abaev, N.V. (2006). Tsivilizatsionnaia heopolitika narodov Altai-Baikalskoho rehiona i Tsentralnoi Azii [Civilizational geopolitics of the peoples of the Altai-Baikal region and Central Asia]. Kyzyl: Publishing house of the Tuva state university [in Russia].
Year: 2021
City: Karaganda
Category: History