The Sogdians were a people of Iranian origin who lived in the fertile valleys of Central Asia between the sixth century BC and tenth century AD. The secret to the Sogdians’ success was their knack for commerce. Building cities in what is today Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, the Sogdian merchants became vital go-betweens for trade on the Silk Road. The legacy of these people is also preserved in the fragments of writings that remain with us today. Many of the documents are translations of Buddhist scriptures. More intriguingly, there are also five nearly-complete personal letters that paint a vivid picture of what life was like for the ordinary people living in a vast trade society.
Sogdians on an Achaemenid Persian relief from the Apadana of Persepolis, offering tributary gifts to the Persian king Darius I, 5th century BC (public domain)
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