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Tajikistan, History

Fergana Valley, Timurid dynasty, ancient Iranian language, Transoxiana, satrapy

Tajiks are descendents of the Indo-Iranian peoples who inhabited the ancient regions of Sogdiana (in southeastern Central Asia) and Bactria (northern Afghanistan and southern Tajikistan) before recorded history. Sogdiana included the northern portion of present-day Tajikistan, and its people spoke an ancient Iranian language. In the 6th century bc Sogdiana became a satrapy of the Achaemenid Empire of ancient Persia. Alexander the Great, king of Macedonia, conquered the region in the 300s bc, but Macedonian control collapsed with Alexander’s death in 323. Sogdiana was known to the Greeks as Transoxiana. In the 100s bc Sogdiana was included in the vast empire of the Kushanas, an area that at its height stretched from Central Asia to northern India. Sogdiana was then a central hub on the Silk Road, a collective term for the ancient caravan trade routes that linked China with the Middle East, India, and imperial Rome.

Invasions by the Huns and the Western Turks, nomadic tribes from the north, occurred between the 4th and 6th centuries ad. Then in the 8th century, Arab invaders conquered the region and introduced Islam, which thereafter remained the predominant cultural influence. In the 9th century a peaceable and affluent Persian dynasty, the Samanids, gained control of the region. The Samanids were allied with the Sunni caliph of Baghdad, and they developed Bukhoro as an important center of Muslim culture. The Samanid dynasty weakened in the late 10th century, however, and a number of Turkic hordes, most notably the Seljuks, fought over the region until the great conquest of the Mongol emperor Genghis Khan in the 13th century. The region then became part of the vast empire of Turkic conqueror Tamerlane in the 14th century. Under Tamerlane, who established the Timurid dynasty, Samarqand (in present-day Uzbekistan) became the center of cultural and political life.

In the 16th century, part of present-day Tajikistan was included in the Bukhoro khanate (state ruled by khans) that was established by the Shaybanids, an Uzbek dynasty. Meanwhile the desolate Pamirs region remained outside the khanate and under the control of various local rulers and chieftains. In the early 1700s the Quqon (Kokand) khanate was formed in the Fergana Valley and included the city of Khujand (in present-day Tajikistan). By the mid-18th century the Manghits, another dynasty of Bukhoro rulers, rose to power in the region.

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Article key phrases:

Fergana Valley, Timurid dynasty, ancient Iranian language, Transoxiana, satrapy, Kokand, Seljuks, Tajiks, imperial Rome, Huns, chieftains, northern India, khans, collective term, Silk Road, Samarqand, central hub, Greeks, Islam, Invasions, descendents, centuries, political life, century, China, state, Middle East, power, region, control, height, area, history, Bactria, nomadic tribes, king of Macedonia


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