Bukhara, one of the oldest cities in Central Asia, was already a town in the first millennium BC, it became important historically in the eigth century, when it was conquered by the Arab Abbasid Caliphate (709 AD/90 AH). Bukhara flourished both intellectually and commercially, and by the tenth century, under the powerful Samanid Dynasty, it became a renowned center of the arts and learning, especially the sciences and mathematics. The city's rich cultural heritage, commissioned by the patronage of its rulers, includes many architectural landmarks of the Islamic world. Recent excavations by the Uzbek Academy of Sciences have revealed that present day Bukhara is built up on layers of past settlements. By dating some of the discovered remnants that have been excavated, it is quite likely that Bukhara can be considered at least 2,500 years old.
Bukhara lies on a flat plain and is surrounded by semi-desert lands. It is situated on the edge of the Kizilkum desert and has a dry and arid climate. In the past, the Bukhara oasis formed part of a vast region of Central Asia which had been conquered by Alexander of Macedon. These events led to the forming of feudalism in the Bukharan oasis.
The new social system introduced a social hierarchy: the individual principalities were ruled by kings supported by armed nobility. The process of town formation became very active and the ancient settlements surrounding Bukhara developed into the towns of Varakhsha, Vardanzi, Ramish, and Kermine. All these towns followed a similar structural pattern, they all were made up of: the Ark (citadel), the Shakhristan -well planned residential; core, and a necropolis on the outskirts of the city.
Bukhara in this period followed the same layout and pattern of development. It sprawled over an area of forty hectares. The Shakhristan which was rectangular was cut into four sections by two crossing main streets which led to gates opening out on all four sides of the city. At the turn of the tenth century, Bukhara had developed into a major cultural and religious center. Bukhara was almost leveled by Gengis Khan in 1226/623 AH; few monuments survived the destructiveness of the Mongol hordes. Bukhara revived under the Shaybanid Dynasty in the sixteenth century, but it's importance decreased with the decline in traffic along the Silk Road. In 1753/1166 AH, Bukhara became an independent emirate and remained so until 1868/1285 AH, when it was incorporated as a vassal state under Tsarist Russia. Bukhara was forcefully taken by the Bolshevik forces after WWI; a number of monuments suffered great destruction during the bombardment.
Tim Abdullah Khan is a covered marketplace (tim) built in 1577, along Bukhara's primary commercial spine between Taq-i Zargaron and Maghak-i 'Attari Mosque. Once known as the Tim-i Kalyan, or Great Market, this bazaar lies southwest of the Abdul Aziz Khan and Ulugh Beg madrasa ensemble. Shaybanid ruler Iskandar (1561-83) most probably commissioned this bazaar, although his son, 'Abdalah II (1583-98) is popularly believed to have built it. It was a center of Central Asia's famed silk trade through the centuries, and is the sole survivor of erstwhile Bukhara's six covered markets.
Tim Abdullah Khan is a self-contained, introverted market space, distinct from the famed crossroad markets (taqs) of Bukhara. Its square and symmetric plan features three grand entrances along the street façade facing west and three, relatively modest openings in the other cardinal directions. A large domed octagonal hall forms the building's center; it has four ancillary rooms built into its walls at the corners. Four passageways, one in each direction, lead out from the central hall to an octagonal gallery lined with small and large alcoves for merchant stalls. The vaulting of Tim Abdullah Khan is a multi-cupola composition, with nineteen domes built around the high central dome. This honeycomb-like composition rests on cross arches and shield-shaped pendentives. Eight clerestory windows admit light into the central hall, while lantern-shaped towers flood light into the main entrance vestibule.
Typical of Bukhara's commercial structures, Tim Abdullah Khan was constructed in a highly utilitarian manner, with little decoration. The simplicity of its design combined with the structural tour de force of its vaulting and its elaborate street façade substantiate greater scholarly attention for this market, which had a pivotal role in medieval Bukhara's economy. Tim Abdullah Khan was once part of an extensive commercial and institutional network consisting of traveler inns (caravanserais), public baths (hammams), crossroad markets (taqs), theological colleges (madrasas) and mosques. These urban connections are no longer perceptible after the mindless demolitions and insensitive preservation attempts of the twentieth century. The building's eastern bay of domes show extensive structural damage that require immediate structural repairs.
Azizkhodjayev, Alisher. Bukhara: An Oriental Gem, 94. Tashkent: Chief Editorial Office of Publishing & Printing, 1997.
Herdeg, Klaus. "Bukhara." In Formal Structure in Islamic Architecture of Iran and Turkistan, 59, 61. New York: Rizzoli, 1990. http://archnet.org/library/documents/one-document.jsp?document_id=6205