Masters of the “Silk Road” – the Rise and Fall of the Sogdian Culture

The seminar will focus on the unique Sogdian culture that existed in Central Asia (modern Uzbekistan and Tajikistan) between the fourth century CE and the Muslim conquest of the area in the eighth century. We shall discuss the written and material sources for the Sogdian civilization and treat important milestones of Sogdian history. Special emphasis will be placed on the wall paintings, which are the primary source for the Sogdian culture and religion. We shall deal with the Sogdian trading network, with the complex relations between the sedentary Sogdians and the nomadic Turkic tribes, with the Sogdian colonies in China and the phenomenon of Sino-Sogdian art.