Life at the Border: Farmers and Nomads at the Edges of the Bukhara Oasis during Antiquity

Lecture | October 22 | 5-7 p.m. | 370 Dwinelle Hall

 Sören Stark, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, NYU

 Tang Center for Silk Road Studies

The oasis of Bukhara in present-day Uzbekistan was a major node in the network of ancient and medieval communication lines across Eurasia, located at an important crossroad where routes between eastern Iran and Samarqand met with routes which ran between Bactria/Tokharistan (and India) and Lake Aral and further on to eastern Europe. Archaeological and historical studies on this region have long focused on its urban centers. In his lecture, Professor Stark will instead highlight rural society at the border of the oasis, drawing attention to those who sustained and complemented urban centers in the oasis during antiquity. For this he will draw from the results of ongoing fieldwork at a number of sites in the ancient border zone of the Bukhara oasis dating to the Hellenistic and post-Hellenistic period. They show a dazzling picture of economic and social interactions evolving in complex agro-pastoral lifestyles. And they show that the seemingly 'small' world of communities at the edges of the oasis was nonetheless well connected with the big world of the ancient “Silk Roads.”

Sören Stark received his doctorate in 2005 with a study on the archaeology and history of the pre-Muslim Turks in Central and Inner Asia. Hi current research interests are, among others, on Hellenistic and Late Antique/Early Medieval Sogdiana and the archaeology and history of nomadic groups close to oasis territories in Western Central Asia. His publications include a monograph on the archaeology of the 6th-8th century Türks in Inner and Central Asia, an exhibition catalogue on Early Iron Age kurgans from Kazakhstan, and numerous articles and book chapters on the history and archaeology of Sogdiana between the Hellenistic and the Islamic periods. He has been co-editor of the Journal of Inner Asian Art and Archaeology (at Brepols) and is currently co-editor of Brill's Handbook of Oriental Studies, Section 8: Uralic & Central Asian Studies (HO8).