Pre-Islamic Central Asia

Georgina Herrmann

in The Oxford Handbook of Archaeology

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9780199271016
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology

Pre-Islamic Central Asia


This article examines the archaeological study of pre-Islamic Central Asia. It explains that archaeology began in Western Turkestan after the Russian conquest of the area in the late nineteenth century and excavations began at Dzhankent on the lower Syr Daryai n 1867 and at Afrasiab in 1875. The historical and numismatic records available from the advent of the Achaemenian Persians in the mid-first millennium bc help to illumine the picture drawn from earlier archaeological material, of an area of urbanism located in oases and dependent on sophisticated irrigation agriculture, and of a transhumant population, both utilizing marginal areas for summer grazing from within the oases as well as genuine nomadic herdsmen.

Keywords: pre-Islamic Central Asia; archaeological study; Western Turkestan; Dzhankent; Syr Daryai; Afrasiab; numismatic records; Achaemenian Persians; urbanism; nomadic herdsmen

Article.  20832 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Historical Archaeology

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