Our full project bibliography can be found through Zotero. It includes every single source cited throughout the exhibition as well as other useful and relevant resources. Access the list by using the following link: https://www.zotero.org/groups/2132759/freersackler_sogdian_project/items
Nineteen Essential Books and Articles on the Sogdians
Guitty Azarpay. Sogdian Painting: The Pictorial Epic in Oriental Art, with contributions by A. M. Belenitskii, B. I. Marshak, and Mark J. Dresden. Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press, 1981.
The first book to make available in English lengthy and detailed discussion of the wall paintings from such Sogdian and related sites as Panjikent, Afrasiab (Old Samarkand), Varakhsha, and Qal’a-yi Qahqaha (Shahristan in Ustrushana, now in western Tajikistan). The focus is on Panjikent, in particular the literary aspects of many of its paintings (especially the Epic of Rustam) and their historical and archaeological contexts, as well as the religious imagery and painting styles.
Yuri Bregel. An Historical Atlas of Central Asia. Handbook of Oriental Studies series, Section 8: Uralic and Central Asian Studies, 9. Leiden: Brill, 2003.
Presents a bird’s-eye view of the complicated history of what is now the Islamic world, and its connections with the histories of Iran, Afghanistan, China, and Russia. Maps covering the 4th century BCE to the present show political entities, approximate borders, and migrations of major ethnic groups.
Frantz Grenet. “The Pre-Islamic Civilization of the Sogdians (seventh century BCE to eighth century CE): A Bibliographic Essay (studies since 1986).” The Silk Road 1, no. 2 (2003). http://www.silkroadfoundation.org/newsletter/december/pre-islamic.htm.
Grenet notes the “unprecedented development of Sogdian studies” that began in the second half of the 1980s and describes the factors that have contributed to its flowering. A prime factor is the opening of the formerly Soviet Central Asian provinces to western archaeologists and other researchers. Vital, too, is scholars’ recognition of the Sogdian role in Chinese cultural history, largely based on archaeological finds in China itself.
Frantz Grenet. “Zoroastrianism in Central Asia,” in The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Zoroastrianism. Ed. Michael Stausberg and Yuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw Vevaina. Malden, MA and Oxford: John Wiley & Sons, 2015, 129–46.
Grenet’s chapter covers the centuries from the pre-Achaemenid into the early Islamic period of the 10th century. It provides a compact treatment of the textual sources for Zoroastrianism as practiced in Central Asia (termed Mazdaism in this exhibition). It also discusses the Sogdian pantheon, temples, clergy, religious texts, marriage contracts, and funerary practices.
Valerie Hansen. The Silk Road: A New History with Documents. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.
An updated version of the highly readable 2012 publication, expanded and further enlivened with primary sources. This is an excellent introduction to the archaeology, history, religions, and peoples of the east–west trade routes of Eurasia.
Annette L. Juliano and Judith A. Lerner, eds. Monks and Merchants: Silk Road Treasures from Northwest China; Gansu and Ningxia, 4th to 7th Century. New York: Harry N. Abrams and The Asia Society, 2001.
This exhibition focused on the artistic, religious, and cultural influences in the period between the Later Han dynasty (1st century BCE–1st century CE) and the mid-Tang dynasty (8th century CE). For chapters on the Sogdians, see Judith A. Lerner, “The Merchant Empire of the Sogdians,” 221–30; Boris I. Marshak, “The Sogdians in Their Homeland,” 231–37; and Luo Feng, “Sogdians in Northwest China,” 239–45.
Étienne de la Vaissière. Sogdian Traders: A History. Trans. James Ward. Handbook of Oriental Studies series, Section 8: Central Asia, 10). Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2005.
An updating of the 2002 volume, translated from the French, this trailblazing book synthesizes information from a wide range of written sources and archaeological findings. Its focus is on the Sogdians’ commercial relations, but it also treats other aspects of Sogdian society and culture such as crafts, agriculture, and social organization.
Étienne de la Vaissière and Éric Trombert, eds. Les Sogdiens en Chine. Études Thématiques17. Paris: École francaise d’Extrême-Orient, 2005.
This is a collection of scholarly papers in French and English from the 2004 international colloquium held in Beijing by the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Paris; Peking University (PKU)/ Beijing Daxue 北京大学, Beijing; the École française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO), Beijing Center; and the National Library of China 中国国家图书馆/中國國家圖書館, Beijing. Subjects covered are iconography, Sogdian mercantile activity, the Sogdian military in China, winemaking, Sogdians and other non-Han groups in the Tarim Basin, Turk and Chinese interactions with Sogdians in China, and the (then–newly discovered) sarcophagus of Shi Jun.
Judith A. Lerner. “Aspects of Assimilation: The Funerary Practices and Furnishings of Central Asians in China.” Sino-Platonic Papers, no. 168. Philadelphia: Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Pennsylvania, 2005. Available at http://www.sino-platonic.org/complete/spp168_sogdian_funerary_practices.pdf and https://www.academia.edu/743879/Aspects_of_Assimilation_the_Funerary_Practices_and_Furnishings_of_Central_Asians_in_China_UNCORRECTED_See_Errata_
This paper surveys the various funerary beds and sarcophagi of Central Asians (mostly Sogdians) in China that were known as of 2004, which at the time numbered nine. Since that time, two more have come to light, neither one excavated by scholars but purchased instead through the art market. The monograph focuses on the owners’ varying degrees of ethnic identity and the converse—their assimilation or sinicization—that we can infer from these funerary furnishings.
A. Litvinsky (Litvinskij) with Zhang Guang-da and R. Shabani Samghabadi, eds. History of Civilizations of Central Asia. Vol. 3: The Crossroads of Civilizations, A.D. 250 to 750. Paris: UNESCO Publishing, 1996.
A part of the UNESCO series on civilizations of peoples living in the regions of Central Asia, this volume covers the archaeology, history, languages, art, and literature of Sogdiana and its neighbors in the same time span as this exhibition. Now somewhat outdated, the volume nevertheless offers insightful views of peoples, empires, and religions of the vast territory encompassing Iran, northern India, Central Asia, and into China.
Boris I. Marschak (Marshak). Silberschätze des Orients: Metallkunst des 3.–13. Jahrhunderts und ihre Kontinuität. Leipzig: VEB E. A. Seemann Verlag, 1986.
This is the preeminent study of metalwork produced east of the Sasanian Empire (224–651 CE) in Central Asia. It established Sogdiana’s identity as a silver- (and gold-) working center as well as its importance in the transmission of forms and imagery from east to west. Based on the author’s 1971 study in Russian, this seminal work analyzes the style and techniques of otherwise difficult-to-date works to establish the evolution of different schools of metalworking and to highlight the persistence of themes and motifs as evidence for cultural continuity.
Boris Marshak (Marschak). Legends, Tales, and Fables in the Art of Sogdiana. With an appendix by Vladimir A. Livshits. Biennial Ehsan Yarshater Lecture Series1. The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. New York: Bibliotheca Persica Press, 2002.
Written by the director of the Russian excavations at Panjikent for almost thirty years, this book surveys the narrative wall paintings that distinguish this Sogdian city. The author considers how the Rustam Cycle paintings and the secondary cycles associated with them reflect Sogdian culture, and how the works relate to literary subjects, Sogdian and otherwise.
Boris I. Marshak. “The Archaeology of the Silk Road,” The Silk Road 1, no. 2 (2003), http://www.silkroadfoundation.org/newsletter/december/archaeology.htm.
This is an overview of the history and archaeology of Sogdiana with an excellent bibliography, as of 2003, focusing on Russian works. See also Frantz Grenet’s bibliographic essay in the same volume, listed above.
Thomas S. Noonan. “The Fur Road and the Silk Road: The Relations between Central Asia and Northern Russia in the Early Middle Ages,” in Kontakte zwischen Iran, Byzanz und der Steppe im 6. und 7. Jahrhundert, ed. Csanád Bálint. Varia Archaeologica Hungarica series, no. 10. Budapest: Paulus-Publishing Verlag, 2000: 285–301.
In addition to dominating the east–west Silk Roads’ overland trade, the Sogdians were the main traders along the so-called Fur Road into northwestern Europe. Noonan focuses on the early Islamic period, for which we have better documentation. Yet he also explains the role of the Sogdian (and Chorasmian) merchants who traded Iranian and Central Asian silver vessels for furs on behalf of their nomadic Turkic patrons.
Rong Xinjiang 榮新江. “New Light on Sogdian Colonies along the Silk Road: Recent Archaeological Finds in Northern China (Lecture at the BBAW on 20th September 2001).” Berlin-Brandenburgischen Akademie der Wissenschaften Berichte und Abhandlungenseries, 10. Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2006: 147–60. Available at http://edoc.bbaw.de/volltexte/2009/1106/pdf/IV_01_Rong.pdf.
A leading Chinese scholar on Sogdians and the Silk Roads, Rong presents archaeological finds then recently made (in 2001) in Xinjiang and other parts of China, and how they expand our knowledge of the Sogdians, especially those living in China. He discusses Chinese documents from Turfan, manuscripts and materials found at Dunhuang, and the discoveries of funerary furniture of non-Chinese living in China.
Michael Shenkar. Intangible Spirits and Graven Images: The Iconography of Deities in the Pre-Islamic Iranian World. Magical and Religious Literature of Late Antiquity series, vol. 4. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2014.
Encompassing the ancient Iranian world, which included Sogdiana, this work traces the evolution of images of ancient Iranian deities and their representations in the Iranian cults, and analyzes the origins of their iconography. It presents a detailed discussion of the connections between the material evidence and the written sources from ancient Iran prior to the Islamic conquest.
Michael Shenkar. “The Religion and the Pantheon of the Sogdians (5th–6th Centuries CE) in Light of Their Sociopolitical Structures.” Journal Asiatique 305, no. 2 (2017): 191–209.
Shenkar presents the “regional aspects” of Sogdian religion as viewed in wall paintings, ossuaries, and terracotta figurines. Although there existed a “Sogdian religion,” cultic practices and veneration of specific deities varied from one city-state to the next.
Nicholas Sims-Williams. “Some Reflections on Zoroastrianism in Sogdiana and Bactria,” in Realms of the Silk Roads: Ancient and Modern—Proceedings from the Third Conference of the Australasian Society for Inner Asian Studies (A.S.I.A.S.), Macquarie University, September 18–20, 1998. Ed. David Christian and Craig Benjamin. Silk Road Studies series, Vol. 4, 1–12. Turnhout: Brepols, 2000.
Sims-Williams draws on philological evidence to offer a view of Zoroastrianism (or Mazdaism) as the popular religion of Sogdiana.
Susan Whitfield and Ursula Sims-Williams, eds. The Silk Road: Trade, Travel, War and Faith. Exh. cat., British Library. London: Serindia Publications, Inc., 2004.
This exhibition catalogue presents essays on Sogdian mercantile activity; the use of money on the Silk Roads; and the towns and communities along those roads, with particular focus on Samarkand, Khotan, Kroraina, Miran, Dunhuang, and Gaochang.
Encyclopædia Iranica (EIr): http://www.iranicaonline.org/
An online encyclopedia focusing on historical Iran and surrounding areas, the EIr features a number of articles expressly about the Sogdians, as well as other articles relevant to their study. Some of these were written by major Sogdian researchers, such as Boris Marshak.
The International Dunhuang Project (IDP)/Guoji Dunhuang Xiangmu (國際敦煌項目): http://idp.bl.uk/
Working with major institutions such as the British Library and the National Library of China in Beijing, the International Dunhuang Project aims to serve as a database for texts (including a number of Sogdian writings) and visual arts related to Dunhuang and the Eastern part of the Silk Road.
The Silk Road Foundation: http://www.silkroadfoundation.org/
The Silk Road Foundation hosts a number of useful and relevant resources for those wishing to study Sogdiana. Though their main website is not regularly updated, they do publish a journal, previously located at http://www.silkroadfoundation.org/toc/newsletter.html and now at https://edspace.american.edu/silkroadjournal/, that regularly covers topics relevant to Sogdian studies.
“Archaeological Glimpses of Ustrushana”: http://www.orientarch.uni-halle.de/sfb586/c5/ustru/indexe.htm
This contents page in English, compiled by Markus Mode, is part of a larger, collaborative German-language website, Archäologisches aus Ustrushana. This is itself part of a project focusing on Ustrushana, a large region of Central Asia that neighbored Sogdiana. The Sonderforschung Sbereich 586, Teilprojekt D6: Nomaden und Sesshafte im vormuslimischen Transoxanien, ca. 5.–8./9. Jh. [Interdisciplinary Research Centre 586, Subproject D6: Nomads and sedentaries in pre-Muslim Transoxiana, ca. 5th–8th/9th century], operates under a program of the Martin-Luther University Halle-Wittenberg and the University of Leipzig, and is funded by the German Research Foundation.
Court art of Sogdian Samarqand in the 7th century AD: http://www.orientarch.uni-halle.de/ca/afras/general.htm
Created by German researcher Markus Mode, this website goes into great detail describing and interpreting the wall paintings in the Hall of the Ambassadors at the Afrasiab site in Samarkand.
Afrosiab Palace Wall Painting: http://contents.nahf.or.kr/goguryeo/afrosiab/english.html
High-resolution images, video, and virtual tour of the wall paintings of the Hall of the Ambassadors at Afrasiab, created by the Northeast Asian History Foundation. Available in Korean and English.
Corpus of Sogdian Texts: http://titus.uni-frankfurt.de/texte/etcs/iran/miran/sogd/sogdnswc/sogdn.htm
An online database of Sogdian texts, arranged by Sogdian linguist Nicholas Sims-Williams, which includes the letters from Mount Mugh.
Art San’at: Journal of the Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan: http://sanat.orexca.com/
The Journal of the Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan, San’at, features a number of articles over the years pertaining to Sogdian art and archeology.
The Sogdian Ancient Letters: 1, 2, 3, and 5, available at https://depts.washington.edu/silkroad/texts/sogdlet.html
Hosted by the University of Washington, these are translations of ancient Sogdian letters that archaeologist M. Aurel Stein found in 1907. The translations were done by linguist Nicholas Sims-Williams.
Digital Silk Road: Digital Archives of Cultural Heritage. Digital Silk Road Project, National Institute of Informatics: http://dsr.nii.ac.jp/
A Japanese digital humanities project focused on the Silk Road.
Archaeological Investigations at the “Long Wall” of Bukhārā: http://isaw.nyu.edu/research/bukhara-project
Supported by New York University’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, this page collects information, maps, and articles about an ongoing excavation in Bukhara.
See a related article at http://isaw.nyu.edu/research/long-walls.
Hidden Treasures of the Silk Road: http://dunhuang.mtak.hu/index-en.html
This Hungarian website focuses on Hungarian archeologists who traveled, explored, and excavated in Central Asia. Particular attention is given to Aurel Stein, whose discoveries in the early 20th century helped bring the Sogdians back into scholarly focus. The site has a number of images related to his expeditions and to the site of Dunhuang.