Eastern Iran and Western Central Asia during Late Antiquity (3rd-5th cent. CE): Numismatics, Archaeology, and Art History in Dialogue

ISAW-ÖAW Conference organized by Sören Stark (ISAW)

Late Antiquity in Western Central Asia and Eastern Iran—that is the centuries between the downfall of the Great Kushan dynasty and the beginning of Türk suzerainty—remains a particularly obscure period. Major questions concerning even basic political and cultural developments are still poorly understood. Yet, it is clear that this period was one of important and momentous political, social, demographic, and cultural change—such as the rise of Iran as a new hegemonic power in the wider region, the ascent of Sogdiana as one of the main cultural and economic power-houses of Eurasia, and the influx of new populations and elites, labeling themselves and/or labeled by others as “Huns.”

One of the major problems faced by any historian of Late Antique Central Asia and Eastern Iran is the dearth of historiographical (narrative) sources. All the more important are numismatic, epigraphical, and archaeological data, which have in recent years greatly improved our overall knowledge of the area during this supposed ‘dark age.’ Yet, each of these disciplines has its own methodological, terminological, and epistemic vantage point and systematic cross-disciplinary awareness of new, and important research results are still all too often lacking. The primary goal of this one-day workshop is therefore to improve the dialogue across what are key disciplines for the study of Eastern Iran and Western Central Asia during Late Antiquity, with a regional focus on Bactria/Tokharistan and Western Sogdiana.

The event is co-sponsored by ISAW, the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and the Chicago Initiative for Global Late Antiquity.

***Please note that the program schedule has been revised; the updated schedule appears below:***


9:00am - Introductory Remarks
Sören Stark (Institute for the Study of the Ancient World)

Session I: Frameworks

9:10am - Kushan-Sasanians Outside the Imperial Paradigm: the Kushanshah Dynasty as an Independent Kingdom
Khodadad Rezakhani (Princeton University)

9:55am - Again and Again: Remarks on Kushano-Sasanian Chronology
Nikolaus Schindel (Austrian Academy of Sciences)

10:40am - Coffee Break 

Session II: Late Antique Bactria/Tokharistan

10:50am - Bactria in Late Antiquity: An Art Historical Inquiry into an Imperfectly Named Period
Judith Lerner (Institute for the Study of the Ancient World)

11:35am - From the Kidarites to the Alkhan: the Numismatic Evidence
Michael Alram (Austrian Academy of Sciences/Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna)

12:20pm - Bactria/Tokharistan in the 3rd and 4th centuries A.D. Selected Problems of Settlement Patterns and Material Culture
Ladislav Stančo (Charles University Prague)

1:05pm - Lunch Break

Session III: Late Antique Western Sogdiana

2:05pm - Sasanians and Huns in Sogdiana
Aleksandr Naymark (Hofstra University)

2:50pm - The Bukhara Oasis during the 3rd-5th Centuries A.D.
Sören Stark (Institute for the Study of the Ancient World)

3:35pm - Paikand in Late Antiquity
Andrey Omel’chenko (State Hermitage, St. Petersburg)

4:20pm - Coffee Break

Final Discussion

4:30pm - Moderator: Richard Payne (University of Chicago)

Please check isaw.nyu.edu for event updates.

Registration is required at isaw.nyu.edu/rsvp

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