Recent Excavations of Sanjar-Shah (Northern Tajikistan) and the New Sources for the Study of the Sogdian Culture (5th–8th centuries CE)

Central Asia in Transition Lecture by Michael Shenkar, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Thursday, February 22, 2018
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Charles E. Young Research Library Presentation Room

The lecture presents some preliminary results of the excavations conducted at the site of Sanjar-Shah during 2014-2017. Sanjar-Shah is located 12 km to the east of the Sogdian city of Panjikent in modern Tajikistan and seems to be roughly contemporary with it (5th-8th centuries CE). The previous excavations in 2001, 2003 and in 2007-2013 have mostly concentrated on the Round Tower (Area I) in the northwestern corner of the site and on the Area 2 in the eastern part of the town. Some important finds were made in the Round Tower in 2008-2009, including a well-preserved cotton shirt and fragments of Arabic letters written on paper. These fragments are dated to the 8th century CE, which makes them the earliest known Arabic texts written on paper. In 2016 and 2017, new areas were opened in the western part of the site, and along the southern wall of the town where architecture is preserved up to the height of six meters. This season we have uncovered for first time, fragments of wall paintings in these new areas. In addition, we shall discuss the possible ancient name of Sanjar-Shah and its relations with the neighboring city of Panjikent in light of the evidence of the Mount Mugh documents.

Michael Shenkar is a Senior Lecturer in Pre-Islamic Iranian Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His research interests include the Archaeology, Art, and Religions of the pre-Islamic Iranian world and the History of Jews in the pre-Islamic Iran and Central Asia, with a particular focus on religious iconography and the Sogdian civilization. He is a co-director of the excavations of the Sogdian town of Sanjar-Shah in northern Tajikistan.

This event is cosponsored by the Pourdavoud Center for the Study of the Iranian World and Cotsen Institute of Archeology. Presented in collaboration with the Center of Near Eastern Studies.

Sponsor(s): Program on Central Asia, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, Pourdavoud Center for the Study of the Iranian World