Sogdian Epigraphy of Central Asia and Semirech'e.

Author:Benkato, Adam
Position:Book review

Sogdian Epigraphy of Central Asia and Semirech'e. By VLADIMIR A. LiVSHITS, translated by TOM STABLEFORD and edited by NICHOLAS SIMS-WILLIAMS. Corpus Inscriptionum Iranicarum, pt. II: Inscriptions of the Seleucid and Parthian periods of Eastern Iran and Central Asia, vol. III: Sogdian IV. London: SCHOOL OF ORIENTAL AND AFRICAN STUDIES. 2015. Pp. 315. [pounds sterling]60.

Sogdian Epigraphy of Central Asia and Semirech 'e is a landmark volume: the first time that a major edition of the Mugh documents, the only Sogdian manuscripts to have been found in Sogdiana itself, has been published in English. More precisely, it is an English translation of Livshits" Russian publication consisting of two parts: a re-edition of many Mugh documents--this part being a substantial reworking of the initial publication of the texts a half-century before (1)--and the re-publication (and here, translation into English) of several of Livshits' articles on Sogdian texts from various sites in Central Asia. The importance of having this book available in English can hardly be overstated, as it will certainly be the standard work on the Mugh documents upon which future research will be based. (2)

The importance of the Mugh documents should not be lost on any scholar of medieval Central Asia, the history of the Islamic conquests, or Iranian philology. These seventy-seven documents (seventy-five in Sogdian, one in Arabic, one in Old Turkic) form the only surviving part of the archive of Dhewashtich, the last ruler of Sogdiana before its complete submission to the Muslim conquerors in the 720s. Originally the lord of Panjikent, Dhewashtich proclaimed himself king of all of Sogdiana just as Bukhara and Samarkand were being overrun by Qutayba ibn Muslim and his forces. He was then himself defeated shortly thereafter, around 721, seemingly at Mount Mugh, the fortress east of Panjikent where the documents were found in the 1930s. While some of this is recorded in Arabic histories such as that of al-Tabari, the Mugh documents provide a unique glimpse of the Sogdian perspective on these turbulent political and military events as well as the only record of daily life and administration in early eighth-century Sogdiana.

The Mugh corpus consists thematically of two parts. Letters exchanged between various Sogdian officials including Dhewashtich are nearly half the collection--two highlights are the Sogdian translation of an Arabic letter sent to Dhewashtich by [??]Abd al-Rahman...

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