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Guest Lecture: Dr. Michael Shenkar


CERES Palais, room "Ruhrpott" (4.13)

Is there a 'Sogdian Pantheon'? Regionalism and Local Variations in the Religion of the Sogdians (5th-8th centuries CE)

The religion of the Sogdians in the Late Antique period is usually referred tо as a single phenomenon assuming the existence of a common 'Sogdian Pantheon'. Sogdiana is a geographical and not a political term. There was never a unified 'Sogdian state' but a collection of independent or semi-independent principalities sharing common culture, language and background, but also demonstrating important regional differences. It is about time that we approach also the Sogdian religion in terms of temporal development and regional variations.

The paper will discuss the primary sources for the study of the Sogdian religion, which is mainly the iconography. It will emphasize the neglected, but significant fact that 80 % of the material on the Sogdian religious iconography comes from Panjikent, which was not even among the five largest Sogdian cities and it is also chronologically limited to the 740s.