History as Chach
In pre-Islamic and early Islamic times, the town and the province were known as Chach. The Shahnameh of Ferdowsi also refers to the city as Chach. Later the town came to be known as Chachkand/Chashkand, meaning "Chach City".
The principality of Chach had a square citadel built around the 5th to 3rd centuries BC, some 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) south of the Syr Darya River. By the 7th century AD, Chach had more than 30 towns and a network of over 50 canals, forming a trade center between the Sogdians and Turkic nomads. The Buddhist monk Xuánzàng 玄奘 (602/603? – 664 AD), who travelled from China to India through Central Asia, mentioned the name of the city as Zhěshí 赭時. The Chinese chronicles Suí shū 隋書 ("Book of Suí"), Běi shǐ 北史 ("History of Northern Dynasties") and Táng shū 唐書 ("Book of Táng"), mention a possession called Shí 石 or Zhěshí 赭時 with a capital of the same name since the fifth century AD [Bichurin, 1950. v. II].
In the early 8th century, the region was conquered by Muslim Arabs.
The modern Turkic name of Tashkent (City of Stone) comes from Kara-Khanid rule in the 10th century ("Tash" in Turkic languages means stone). After the 16th century, the name evolved from Chachkand/Chashkand to Tashkand. The modern spelling of "Tashkent" reflects Russian orthography and 20th-century Soviet influence.
Mongol conquest and aftermath
The city was destroyed by Genghis Khan in 1219 and lost much of its population as a result of the Mongols' destruction of the Khwarezmid Empire in 1220. Under the Timurid and subsequent Shaybanid dynasties the city's population and culture gradually revived as a prominent strategic center of scholarship, commerce and trade along the Silk Road.
In 1809, Tashkent was annexed to the Khanate of Kokand. At the time, Tashkent had a population of around 100,000 and was considered the richest city in Central Asia. It prospered greatly through trade with Russia, but chafed under Kokand’s high taxes. The Tashkent clergy also favored the clergy of Bukhara over that of Kokand. However, before the Emir of Bukhara could capitalize on this discontent, the Russian army arrived.