The Heritage of Central Asia from Antiquity to the Turkish Expansion
Central Asia in ancient and medieval times was the crossroads of civilization, connecting China with the West. What we now call Central Asia was part of the empires conquered by Cyrus, Alexander the Great, Timur, and their successors during antiquity and the Middle Ages. At the turn of the millennium, Central Asia became the Turkish center of rule. After the Turkish expansion, political rule belonged to the Turks, but the culture remained Iranian. Over the course of the centuries, ancient polytheistic religions gave way to Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, and Islam, and merchants founded trading empires around the legendary silk route. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, the peoples of Central Asia are seeking to rediscover their heritage, which blends cultural elements from Iran, China, and India. This book provides a concise, authoritative history of the region that includes modern Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Xinjiang. The author, who has made many visits to the region and lived in Tajikistan, draws on sources in several Central Asian languages, as well as materials from the fields of archaeology, art history, linguistics, ethnography, and folklore.
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