The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a city (a settlement until 1953) under oblast jurisdiction, the administrative center of Pendzhikent Raion, Leninabad Oblast, Tadzhik SSR. Situated in the valley of the Zeravshan River, 68 km southeast of Samarkand and 320 km southwest of Leninabad. Population, 16,000 (1974). Pendzhi-kent has a winery, a brickyard, a milk plant, a tobacco-curing plant, a cannery, a meat-packing combine, and a rice-milling combine. It also has a pedagogical school and a museum of local lore and history.

The ruins of a Sogdian city—ancient Pendzhikent or Panji-kent—are located on the southeastern outskirts of modern Pendzhikent. They are a unique example of pre-Islamic culture of Middle Asia. Systematic archaeological study of the ruins was begun in 1946 by A. Iu. Iakubovskii and continued by A. M. Belenitskii. The city existed from the fifth through the mid-eighth century, reaching its prime at the turn of the eighth century. In the first quarter of the eighth century it was destroyed by Arab conquerors; it was totally deserted by the second half of the eighth century.

Ancient Pendzhikent consisted of several parts, the nucleus of which was a walled city proper with narrow streets and blocks of crowded two-story buildings of sun-dried clay brick and unfired puddled clay, with entry iwans, and bazaars with artisans’ and merchants’ shops. In the center of the city proper were two temples, examples of local religious architecture of the fifth to seventh centuries. West of the city walls was a citadel with a triple cordon of fortifications, a donjon, and the ruler’s palace, which contained paintings and wood carvings. East of the city were suburban estates with two-story houses. To the south was the necropolis, with surface burial vaults, in which the bones of the dead were placed in ossuaries.

The finds in Pendzhikent include numerous articles of pottery, metalwork, and glasswork, as well as several thousand bronze and silver Arabian and Sogdian coins. The monumental and decorative arts of Sogdiana are colorfully represented by the paintings (many-figured wall paintings in glue colors), clay sculptures (a frieze in relief), and wood sculptures (reliefs and caryatids) that have been found in Pendzhikent. In artistic style and content, the finds in Pendzhikent resemble those of other cities and regions of Middle Asia (Afrasiab, Varakhsha, Shakh-ristan, Balalyk-Tepe, and Adzhina-Tepe) and of Iran, Afghanistan, and India.


Iakubovskii, A. Iu. “Drevnii Piandzhikent.” In the collection Po sledam drevnikh kul’tur. Moscow, 1951.
Belenitskii, A. M., and V. I. Raspopova. Drevnii Pendzhikent. Dushanbe, 1971.
Belenitskii, A. M. Monumental’noe iskusstvo Pendzhikenta: Zhivopis’, skul’ptura. Moscow, 1973.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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