Samanids – History of Central Asia

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a boxy little building with lots of intricate designs all over it and a dome

The tomb of the Samanid rulers. Bukhara, Uzbekistan, about 900 AD.

The Samanids were people who lived in the easternmost part of the Abbasid Empire, in the 800s AD. The Samanids were pretty much the descendants of the Sogdians who lived in that area before them. Like the Sogdians, they were Indo-Europeans. Samanid people mostly spoke Persian (not Arabic) even though they followed the Islamic religion. The Samanid rulers were families descended from the old Zoroastrian aristocracy of the Sassanian Empire, but they had converted to Sunni Islam too.

Samanid rulers mostly supported the Abbasids and copied Abbasid government. They were technically part of the Abbasid Empire, though really they were pretty much independent. One of their capital cities was Samarkand, the old capital of the Sogdians.

Like the Sogdians before them, the Samanids kept on traveling between West Asia and China as traders. Samanid coins were the common currency of the Silk Road in the 800s and 900s AD, so even people as far away as the Vikings in Scandinavia often used Samanid coins.

As educated traders, the Samanids ran a kingdom that supported education and art. They attracted scholars like the scientists al-Razi and Ibn Sina. The Samanids probably brought crucible steel technology from India north to Afghanistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, selling steel to the Vikings and to China. They also supported Islamic architecture, building mosques and palaces all over Central Asia.

By the year 1000 AD, the Samanids lost power to the Turkish Ghaznavids and the Karakhanids, who dominated this area from then on.

Bibiography and further reading about the Samanids:

Central Asian history
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By |2018-04-16T13:42:12+00:00May 31st, 2017|Central Asia, History|0 Comments
Cite this page: Carr, K.E. Samanids – History of Central Asia. Study Guides, May 31, 2017. Web. December 17, 2018.

About the Author:

Dr. Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.

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