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(sŏgdēā`nə), part of the ancient Persian Empire in central Asia between the Oxus (Amu Darya) and Jaxartes (Syr Darya) rivers. Corresponding to the later emirate of Bukhara and region of Samarkand, it was also known as Transoxiana. Sogdiana, though often a possession of other countries, had its own language, culture, and trading centers. Ancient Sogdian was a Persian language written in an Aramaic script. Sogdiana was a satrapy under Darius I. Conquered 329 B.C. by Alexander the Great, it fell (7th cent. A.D.) to the Arabs and was a center of Islamic culture until 9th cent. Controlled (13th–15th cent.) by the Mongols, the region was later ruled by the Uzbeks and the emirs of Bukhara (see Bukhara, emirate ofBukhara, emirate of,
former state, central Asia, in Turkistan, in the Amu Darya River basin. Part of ancient Sogdiana, it was ruled (A.D. 709–874) by the Umayyad Arabs and played an important role under the Samanid dynasties (875–1000).
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



an ancient region in the basin of the Zeravshan and Kashkadar’ia rivers, and now within the Uzbek SSR and Tadzhik SSR. The cities of Maracanda (Samarkand) and Kiropol’ were situated in the region.

Sogdiana was part of the Persian Achaemenid Empire from the sixth to the fourth century B.C. and was united with Parthia, Khwarizm, and Areia into the empire’s 11th satrapy. The Sogdians paid heavy taxes in silver and supplied precious stones and large military contingents to the Persian kings. In 329 and 328 B.C., the Sogdians fought resolutely against Alexander the Great under the leadership of Spitamenes (killed 328 B.C.). After Alexander’s death (323 B.C.), Sogdiana became part of the Seleucid kingdom. It was part of the Greco-Bactrian kingdom in the third century B.C. and of the Kushana kingdom in the first few centuries of the Common Era. Sogdiana was subjugated by the Ephthalite Huns in the late fourth and fifth centuries AD]. and by the Turkic Kaganate in the sixth and seventh centuries. In the late seventh and early eighth centuries it was conquered by the Arabs.

Many autonomous principalities, of which the Samarkand Principality was the most important, flourished in Sogdiana from the fourth to the eighth century. Sogdiana played a prominent role in the economy and culture of the Orient. Sogdian merchants dominated the silk trade, and there were Sogdian trade and agricultural colonies on all the major caravan routes from Mongolia and China to Merv. Many findings of Soviet archaeologists in Sogdiana, for example, in Afrasiab, Pendzhikent, Va-rakhsha, and Kalai-Mug, attest to the high level of Sogdian culture and art.

The art of ancient Sogdiana has been insufficiently studied. Some idea of the architecture may be gained from the mud-brick structures and fortifications at the site of the city of Afrasiab (second half of the first millennium B.C. to the first few centuries of the Commonn Era) and at Kyzyl-Kyr and Tali-Barzu (both from the first few centuries of the Common Era). The best examples of the representational arts are terra-cotta figurines (third to the first century B.C.), some of which attest to Hellenistic influence. Others are in a schematized, religiously oriented indigenous style that rendered local ethnic features with exactitude.

From the fifth to the eighth century Sogdian cities grew rapidly. They had heavily fortified citadels and were surrounded by shakhristan (feudal city) walls, by suburbs, and by outlying necropolises containing individual family burial vaults. The cities’ palaces and temples and the large dwellings of the urban aristocracy, often two or three stories high, were decorated with genre paintings and with carvings on clay, wood, and alabaster. The paintings, in glue colors on dry plaster, are abstract and have patches of local colors and a refined linearity of composition; horizontal lines generally contrast with a neutral background. In sculpture, monumental decorative relief predominates. The major artifacts of Sogdian decorative and applied arts of this period are unglazed pottery with stamped or applied representations and ornaments, silver articles, and decorative fabrics. These artifacts, as well as the monumental decorative works of art, reflect the influence of the art of the ancient Turkic tribes and of Persia, India, China, and Byzantium.


Istoriia tadzhikskogo naroda, vols. 1–2 (book 1). Moscow, 1963–64.
Istoriia UzbekskoiSSR, vol. 1 (book 1). Tashkent, 1955.
Stavisskii, B. la. Mezhdu Pamirom i Kaspiem. Moscow, 1966.
Stavisskii, B. la. iskusstvo Srednei Azii: Drevnii period. Moscow, 1974.
Istoriia Samarkanda, vol. 1. Tashkent, 1969.
Marshak, B. I. Sogdiiskoe serebro. Moscow, 1971.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


a region of ancient central Asia. Its chief city was Samarkand
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
and is dedicated to the death of Alp Er Tonga, referred to as "Scythian" by European historians and as "Soghdian" by Persian historians, but actually the leader of the ancient Turkish people.
Excluded from the center of power, both socially and geographically, Manichaeism survived among Soghdian merchants and their outposts along the central Asian trade routes.
Effectively swept off the face of the Soghdian terrain, and the two crossings thus captured, Umayyad forees and their local allies had only one place to go to, that is, Tirmidh, where they would be next encountered.
Moriyasu that indicated China as the source of Buddhist influence among Uighur speakers, while Manichaean tendencies emanated from Soghdian sources.
Neither the Karnamag-i Artakhsher-i Papagan, nor even the Soghdian Rustam fragment are in verse.
Contemporary Tajiks are the descendants of various ancient Iranian inhabitants of Central Asia, in particular the Soghdians and the Bactrians, and possibly other groups, with an admixture of Mongols and Turkic peoples.