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Notes on the Geography of Uzbekistan: Samarkand: Gur Emir: Photo 1

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Photographs from 1900 show the dome intact but the pishtaq rising only to the arch; the right minaret is gone, and the left one is truncated at the muqarnas, those honeycomb brackets near the top. The pishtaq is surprisingly modest, given Tamerlane's inclination toward gigantism, but that may be because it was added later, at the order of Ulug Beg in 1434.  The dome, however, is structurally sophisticated.  There's an inner dome, relatively flat.  Then there's the envelope of the outer dome, so thinly walled that it cannot support itself.  Instead, it is supported by a network of iron bars connecting it to the lower dome.

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