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04/12/2016 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

Rostovtzeff Lecture Series: Silk Roads and Steppe Roads of Medieval China: History Unearthed from Tombs, III

Sogdians or Borderlanders?, Part II: Death Rituals Revealed in Tombs

Jonathan K. Skaff

This lecture, the third in a series of four Rostovtzeff Lectures during spring 2016, will return to the topic of immigrants, but in this case two lineages with the same surname of Shi who settled at Guyuan in China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region where the Silk Roads and Steppe Roads intersect. These people were locally powerful elites serving a succession of China-based dynasties as military officers, imperial bodyguards, horse breeders and translators in the sixth and seventh centuries. Their existence literally came to light when archaeologists excavated six tombs at Guyuan in the 1980s and 1990s containing burial goods and seven engraved stone epitaphs written in Chinese. A scholarly consensus has developed that both lineages had Sogdian origins, but this lecture along with the second lecture in the Rostovtzeff series will challenge and complicate this conclusion.
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