the link to this article was obtained from Brooks’ column today
I have always been fascinated with central-asia ever since I read Kilping’s Kim and other books about the Great Game (those written by Peter Hopkirk are particularly nice). With their large centers of Buddhism – I always thought that central-asia was really an aspect of the Indian civilization; but you can say the same thing for how the Persians or Greeks influenced it. Large cities founded on trade (in this case Silk Route trade) are always superlative, but never durable.
I like the Central Asians though– they kept the flame of ancient Greece burning, even as the Christian mobs were butchering the greek civilization. Not to mention that they were the amongst the first victims of Arab imperialism (I have some Uzbeki friends who hate the Arabs and Hans in equal measure)
The one thing the central Asians failed at – they never built large university systems. The best universities in the ancient world were of course in India. Takshasheela was made fully by the Hindu-Buddhist world, and also Nalanda and Odantapuri