The last three decades ‘Silk Road’ studies have seen an unprecedented boom. As one of the consequences of this boom, Sogdiana and its traders were brought into the view of the broader academic and non-academic audience. Unfortunately (as is often the case with popular labels attached to research) the ‘Silk Road’ label has a tendency to take a somewhat timeless quality, thus turning Sogdiana into an eternal hub of transcontinental trade routes, supposedly flourishing since the dawn of history. But is this really the case? And if not, how can we explain the rise of Sogdiana as one of Eurasia’s economic power houses during Late Antiquity? In my lecture, I will attempt to approach this question with the help of both written sources as well as archaeological data. With regard to the latter, I will in particular draw from the results of archaeological fieldwork conducted since 2011 by the Uzbek-American Expedition in Bukhara in present-day Uzbekistan.
Sören Stark Associate Professor for Central Asian Archaeology at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University. He received his PhD in 2005 from Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg. Professor Stark has close to two decades of experience in archaeological fieldwork in Western Central Asia. His current research interests are, among others, on Hellenistic and Late Antique/Early Medieval Sogdiana and the archaeology and history of nomadic groups close to oasis territories in Western Central Asia. His publications include a monograph on the archaeology of the 6th-8th century Türks in Inner and Central Asia, an exhibition catalogue on Early Iron Age kurgans from Kazakhstan, and numerous articles and book chapters on the history and archaeology of Sogdiana between the Hellenistic and the Islamic periods. He has been co-editor of the Journal of Inner Asian Art and Archaeology (at Brepols) and is currently co-editor of Brill’s Handbook of Oriental Studies, Section 8: Uralic & Central Asian Studies (HO8).
This lecture will take place live on Zoom, followed by a question and answer period. Please register to receive the Zoom link. An email with the relevant Zoom information will be sent 1–2 hours ahead of the lecture. Registration closes at 9:00 AM (EST) on November 15, 2021.
EAST OF BYZANTIUM is a partnership between the Arthur H. Dadian and Ara Oztemel Chair of Armenian Art at Tufts University and the Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture at Hellenic College Holy Cross in Brookline, MA. It explores the cultures of the eastern frontier of the Byzantine Empire in the late antique and medieval periods.