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small gold model of a chariot drawn by four horses

Sogdians: A horse-drawn chariot from the Oxus Treasure (British Museum, thanks to Mary Harrsch)

Where did they come from?

The Sogdians came to Sogdiana  probably about 1500 BC. (That’s modern Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.) They were part of the wave of Yamnaya migration to the south-east.

Who were the Yamnaya?
Bronze Age timeline
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Many people left Georgia and Armenia about that time and moved to Iran and northern India. So the Sogdians were Indo-Europeans, like their Persian and Indian neighbors. Their language was closely related to Persian. Like other Indo-Europeans, they brought their horses and chariots with them. Their main city was Marakanda (now Samarkand).

Where do horses come from?

The Sogdians and the Persian Empire

Cyrus the Great conquered the lands around Persia to form the Persian Empire in 526 BC. One of the kingdoms he conquered was Sogdiana. After that, the Sogdians were part of the Persian Empire until 325 BC. They had a big fort called the Sogdian Rock or the Rock of Arimazes. Near this fort, at Takhti Sangin, there was a magnificent collection of gold and silver. We call it the Oxus Treasure.

Who were the Persians?
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Why were the Sogdians rich?

Probably the reason they had so much gold and silver was that they were traders. They sold their horses and cattle to China and Persia. And they also sold Chinese silk to Persia. They sold Persian silver and glass beads to China.

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Who were the Scythians?

But they were not all traders. Many of the men were great soldiers. They helped to protect the Persians against the nomadic Scythians to their north.

Sogdians and the Silk Road

Bibliography and further reading about the Sogdians:

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