Between the 4th and 8th centuries CE, the Sogdians were at the nexus of the transcontinental trade routes known as the Silk Road. By facilitating and promoting trade along those routes, they amassed great wealth which financed a flowering civilization centered on Samarkand and Bukhara in present-day Uzbekistan. This activity along the Silk Road led to the Sogdian developing far flung settlements and establishing a diaspora across Central Asia, Mongolia and China. They were also purveyors of culture to their imperial neighbours, China, India, Persia, Byzantium, and the Steppe empires. Their caravans brought craftsmen, artists, and others, introducing technological innovations and artistic and religious ideas. The Sogdians also played a major role in military and diplomatic affairs in China and the west.
This site will act as a space where students can report back on object-based and thematic research performed over the course of the spring 2016 semester while part of the Telling the Sogdian Story class, offered jointly by NYU's Draper Interdisciplinary Master's Program and the Bard Graduate Center. This work will then be handed over to designers and curators at the Freer|Sackler Galleries to create a web exhibition that will use ideas, objects and voices to create a multi-faceted portrait of the Sogdians, and tell the story of how their adaptability and mobility allowed them to influence the art and culture of people across Asia without the traditional trappings of empire wielded by the Persians, Chinese, Byzantines, Turks, and Arabs. It will also act as a gateway to larger publishing and research resources relevant to Sogdian studies.