The Sogdians

Click on picture to enlarge.

The Sogdians were important traders on the Silk Road. I had never heard about them before I started to prepare myself for this trip. The guides could not help my curiosity so I had to find more of my own. Sogdiana was an area around present day Samarkand and it seemed the tribes became settled around 1000BCE. They formed a state and had a certain miltary power. But when Alexander the Great came around 330BCE he beat them and they never became a military power or a strong state again. However, they became traders and had almost monopoly on the Silk Road. The first record of them in China is around 100BCE and they had trading stations in China, in Dunhang a census showed 1300 Sogdian families and around 5000 people. They organized    6-10 carvans each year with several hundred people in each. Documents show that of 34 trades in Turpan 29 involved Sogdians. They traded in the triangel China-India-Central Asia, but they also had trading in Bysants (Istanbul). They traded from Krim and Bysants to China and Korea.

I found the Sogdians in Persepolis. On the reliefs showing all the peoples in the Persian empire, Sogdians are one of the 27 depicted.

The boys learned reading, writing and calculation from the age of 5 and their language became dominant on the Silk Road.

Their religion is called Mazdian and sets knowledge and intellect high in contrast to ignorance, and light above darkness.

Examples of wall decorations from the Sogdians.     (not my photos)     . Please note no pictures of war only  peaceful activities.

sogdian3 Sogdian2 sogdian1 sogdian7                                                                                                                                     The goose that laid the golden egg.

sogdian6

They disappeared from history around 1000AD.

This is an example on the type of history that intrigues me. One thing is that I had never heard about them before the trip and to me it was a challenge to find out more and to satisfy my curiosity. Then they turned out to a really interesting people, not the aggresive and warring people that seemed to be the normal for people and tribes in Central Asia. They treasured knowledge and used it to trade over a huge area. And they actually were present in history for 2000 years and the last 1100 as dominant traders on the Silk Road without and military power to back them up. I find that remarkable and really interesting.

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