Sogdians

Sogdiana

Sogdiana, ca. 300 BCE.
LanguagesSogdian language
ReligionsBuddhism, Zoroastrianism
CapitalsSamarkand, Bukhara, Khujand, Kesh
AreaBetween the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya
Existed
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Sogdians, depicted on a Chinese Northern Qi stela, circa 550 CE.
Sogdiana or Sogdia (Tajik: Суғд - Old Persian: Sughuda; Persian: سغد; Chinese: 粟特 - Sùtè) was the ancient civilization of an Iranian people and a province of the Achaemenid Persian Empire, the eighteenth in the list in the Behistun Inscription of Darius the Great (i. 16). Sogdiana is "listed" as the second 'good lands and countries' that Ahura Mazda created. This region is listed after the first, Airyana Vaeja, Land of the Aryans, in the Zoroastrian book of Vendidad, hence one can see how ancient this region is considered.[1] Sogdiana, at different periods of time, included territories around Samarkand, Bukhara, Khujand and Kesh in modern Uzbekistan.

The Sogdian states, although never politically united, were centred around their main city of Samarkand. It lay north of Bactria, east of Khwarezm, and southeast of Kangju between the Oxus (Amu Darya) and the Jaxartes (Syr Darya), embracing the fertile valley of the Zarafshan (ancient Polytimetus). Sogdian territory corresponds to the modern provinces of Samarkand and Bokhara in modern Uzbekistan as well as the Sughd province of modern Tajikistan.

History

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Gold coin of Diodotus c. 250 BC.
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Barbaric copy of a coin of Euthydemus I, from the region of Sogdiana. The legend on the reverse is in aramaic script.

Hellenistic period

The Sogdian Rock or Rock of Ariamazes, a fortress in Sogdiana, was captured in 327 BC by the forces of Alexander the Great, who united Sogdiana with Bactria into one satrapy. Subsequently it formed part of the Hellenistic Greco-Bactrian kingdom, founded in 248 BCE by Diodotus, for about a century. Euthydemus I seems to have held the Sogdian territory, and his coins were later copied locally. Eucratides apparently recovered sovereignty on Sogdia temporarily. Finally the area was occupied by nomads when the Scythians and Yuezhis overran it around 150 BCE.

Contacts with China

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Sogdiana was "Sùtè" for the Chinese.
The Sogdians occupied a key position along the ancient Silk Road, and played a major role in facilitating trade between China and Central Asia. Their contacts with China were triggered by the embassy of the Chinese explorer Zhang Qian during the reign of Wudi in the former Han Dynasty, 141-87 BCE. He wrote a report of his visit in Central Asia, and named the area of Sogdiana, "Kangju".

Following Zhang Qian's embassy and report, commercial Chinese relations with Central Asia and Sogdiana flourished, as many Chinese missions were sent throughout the 1st century BC: "The largest of these embassies to foreign states numbered several hundred persons, while even the smaller parties included over 100 members... In the course of one year anywhere from five to six to over ten parties would be sent out." (Shiji, trans. Burton Watson). However the Sogdian traders were then still less important in the Silk Road trade than their Southern neighbours, Indian and Bactrian.

Central Asian role

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Sogdian coin, 6th century CE. British Museum.
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Chinese-shaped Sogdian coin, Kelpin, 8th century CE. British Museum.
The Sogdians dominated the East-West trade after the 4th century CE up to the 8th century CE, with Suyab and Talas ranking among their main centres in the north. They were the main caravan merchants of Central Asia. Their commercial interests were protected by the resurgent military power of the Göktürks, whose empire has been described as "the joint enterprise of the Ashina clan and the Soghdians" [1] [2]. Their trades with some interruptions continued in 9th century. It is occurred in 10th century within the framework of the Uighur Empire, which until 840 extended all over northern Central Asia and obtained from China enormous deliveries of silk in exchange for horses. At this time caravans of Sogdians traveling to Upper Mongolia are mentioned in Chinese sources.

They played an equally important religious and cultural role. Part of the data about eastern Asia provided by Muslim geographers of the 10th century actually goes back to Sogdian data of the period 750-840 and thus shows the survival of links between east and west. However, after the end of the Uighur Empire, Sogdian trade went through a crisis. What mainly issued from Muslim Central Asia was the trade of the Samanids, which resumed the northwestern road leading to the Khazars and the Urals and the northeastern one toward the nearby Turkic tribes [2].

Language and culture

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Sogdian in Sassanid style dresses donors to the Buddha (fresco, with detail), Bezeklik, eastern Tarim Basin, China, 8th century.
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Sogdian musicians, Northern Qi stela, 550 CE.
The Sogdians were noted for their tolerance of different religious beliefs. Buddhism, Manichaeism, Nestorian Christianity, and Zoroastrianism all had significant followings. Sogdians were actors in the Silk Road transmission of Buddhism, until the period of Muslim invasion in the 8th century. Much of our knowledge of the Sogdians and their language comes from the numerous religious texts that they have left behind.

The Sogdians spoke an Eastern Iranian language called Sogdian, closely related to Bactrian, another major language of the region in ancient times. Sogdian was written in a variety of scripts, all of them derived from the Aramaic alphabet.

The valley of the Zarafshan about Samarkand retained even in the Middle Ages the name of the Soghd O Samarkand. Arabic geographers reckon it as one of the four fairest districts in the world. The Yaghnobis living in the Sughd province of Tajikistan still speak a dialect of the Soghdian language.

The great majority of the Sogdian people gradually mixed with other local groups such as the Bactrians, Chorasmians, Turks and Persians, and came to speak Persian (modern Tajiks) or (after the Turkic conquest of Central Asia) Turkic Uzbek. They are among the ancestors of the modern Tajik and Uzbek people. Numerous Sogdian words can be found in modern Persian and Uzbek as a result of this admixture.

Famous Sogdians

  • An Lushan was a military leader of Turkic and Sogdian origin during the Tang Dynasty in China. He rose to prominence by fighting during the Tang Frontier Wars between 741 and 755. Later, he precipitated the catastrophic An Shi Rebellion, which lasted from 755 to 763.

See also

Literature

  • Calum MacLeod, Bradley Mayhew “Uzbekistan. Golden Road to Samarkand”
  • Archaeological Researches in Uzbekistan. 2001. Tashkent The edition is based on results of German-French-Uzbek co-expeditions in 2001 in Uzbekistan*
  • Etienne de la Vaissière, Sogdian Traders. A History, Leiden : Brill, 2005. ISBN 90-04-14252-5
  • Etienne de la Vaissière, Histoire des marchands sogdiens, Paris : de Boccard, 2004.
  • Babadjan Ghafurov, "Tajiks", published in USSR, Russia, Tajikistan
  • Vaissiere. E.D.L, "Sogdian Trade" in Encyclopedia Iranica. http://www.iranica.com/newsite/articles/ot_grp7/ot_sogd_trade_20041201.html

References

1. ^ Wink, André. Al-Hind: The Making of the Indo-Islamic World. Brill Academic Publishers, 2002. ISBN 0391041738.
2. ^ Sogdian Trade, Encyclopedia Iranica, (retrieved 15 June 2007) <http://www.iranica.com/newsite>

External links


Provinces of the Achaemenid Empire (Behistun and Daiva inscriptions)
Persia | Elam | Babylonia | Media | Sacae | Yauna | Macedon | Pamphylia | Paphlagonia | Cappadocia | Caria | Lydia | Thrace | Armenia | Cilicia | Taxila | Egypt | Gandara | Sattagydia | Gedrosia | Carmania | Maka | Drangiana | Arachosia | Bactria | Parthia | Aria | Chorasmia | Sogdia | Kush | Arabia | Hyrcania | Margu | Dahae | Libya | Eber-Nari
By district (Herodotus)
District I | District II | District III | District IV | District V | District VI | District VII | District VIII | District IX | District X | District XI | District XII | District XIII | District XIV | District XV | District XVI | District XVII | District XVIII | District XIX | District XX
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A language is a system of symbols and the rules used to manipulate them. Language can also refer to the use of such systems as a general phenomenon.
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The Sogdian language is an extinct Middle Iranian language that was spoken in Sogdiana (Zarafshan River Valley), located in modern day Uzbekistan and Tajikistan (chief cities: Samarkand, Panjakent, Fergana).
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religions and spiritual traditions may be classified into a small number of major groups or world religions: the vast majority of religious and spiritual adherents follow one of Christianity (33% of world population), Islam (20%), Hinduism (13%), Chinese folk religion (6%)
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Buddhism is often described as a religion[1] and a collection of various philosophies, based initially on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, known as Gautama Buddha.
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Zoroastrianism is the religion and philosophy based on the teachings ascribed to the prophet Zoroaster (Zarathustra, Zartosht). Mazdaism is the religion that acknowledges the divine authority of Ahura Mazda, proclaimed by Zoroaster to be the one uncreated Creator of
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capital (also called capital city or political capital — although the latter phrase has a second meaning based on an alternative sense of "capital") is the center of government.
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State Party  Uzbekistan
Type Cultural
Criteria i, ii, iv
Reference 603
Region Asia-Pacific

Inscription History
Inscription 2001  (25th Session)
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State Party  Uzbekistan
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iv, vi
Reference 602
Region Asia-Pacific

Inscription History
Inscription 1993  (17th Session)
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Khujand (Tajik: Хуҷанд), also transliterated as Khudzhand, Russian: Худжанд, formerly Khodjend or
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State Party  Uzbekistan
Type Cultural
Criteria iii, iv
Reference 885
Region Asia-Pacific

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Inscription 2000  (24th Session)
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Area is a physical quantity expressing the size of a part of a surface. The term Surface area is the summation of the areas of the exposed sides of an object.

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Origin Pamir Mountains
Mouth Aral Sea
Basin countries Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan
Length 2,400 km (1,500 mi)
Source elevation ~6,000 m (15,000 ft)

Avg.
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Origin Naryn and Kara Darya rivers
Mouth Aral Sea
Basin countries Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan
Length 2,212 km

Avg. discharge 703 m³/s (near mouth)
Basin area 219,000 km²

Syr Darya
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This page attempts to list the many extinct states, countries, nations, lands, or territories that have ceased to exist as political entities, grouped geographically and by constitutional nature.
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Tajik}}} 
Writing system: Cyrillic, Latin, Perso-Arabic 
Official status
Official language of: Tajikistan
Regulated by: no official regulation
Language codes
ISO 639-1: tg
ISO 639-2: tgk
ISO 639-3: tgk
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Old Persian}}} 
Writing system: Old Persian Cuneiform
Language codes
ISO 639-1: none
ISO 639-2: peo
ISO 639-3: peo

Old Persian is one of the two attested forms of Old Iranian languages.
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fɒːɾˈsiː in Perso-Arabic script (Nasta`liq style):  
Pronunciation: [fɒːɾˈsiː]
Spoken in: Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and areas of Uzbekistan and Pakistan.
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Chinese or the Sinitic language(s) (汉语/漢語, Pinyin: Hànyǔ; 华语/華語, Huáyǔ; or 中文, Zhōngwén) can be considered a language or language family.
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The Iranian peoples (See[1] for local names) are a collection of ethnic groups defined by their usage of Iranian languages and their descent from ancient Iranian peoples.
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Achaemenid Empire (Persian: هخامنشیان IPA: [haχɒmaneʃijɒn]) (559 BC–330 BC), or
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BCE Zayandeh River Civilization Sialk civilization 7500–1000 Jiroft civilization (Aratta) Proto-Elamite civilization Bactria-Margiana Complex Elamite dynasties 2800–550 Kingdom of Mannai Median Empire 728–550 Achaemenid Empire Seleucid Empire Greco-Bactrian
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State Party  Iran (Islamic Republic of)
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iii
Reference 1222
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Darius I of Persia, the Great
Great King (Shah) of Persia, Pharaoh of Egypt

Reign 522 BC to 485/486 BC
Born 549 BC
Died 485 BC or 486 BC
Predecessor Smerdis
Successor Xerxes I

Darius the Great (c.
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Ahura Mazda (Ahura Mazdā) is the Avestan language name for a divinity exalted by Zoroaster as the one uncreated Creator, hence God.
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Zoroastrianism is the religion and philosophy based on the teachings ascribed to the prophet Zoroaster (Zarathustra, Zartosht). Mazdaism is the religion that acknowledges the divine authority of Ahura Mazda, proclaimed by Zoroaster to be the one uncreated Creator of
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State Party  Uzbekistan
Type Cultural
Criteria i, ii, iv
Reference 603
Region Asia-Pacific

Inscription History
Inscription 2001  (25th Session)
..... Click the link for more information.
State Party  Uzbekistan
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iv, vi
Reference 602
Region Asia-Pacific

Inscription History
Inscription 1993  (17th Session)
..... Click the link for more information.
Khujand (Tajik: Хуҷанд), also transliterated as Khudzhand, Russian: Худжанд, formerly Khodjend or
..... Click the link for more information.
State Party  Uzbekistan
Type Cultural
Criteria iii, iv
Reference 885
Region Asia-Pacific

Inscription History
Inscription 2000  (24th Session)
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Anthem
National Anthem of the Republic of Uzbekistan


Capital Tashkent

Largest city Tashkent
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