THE KUSHAN-SASANID PERIOD (4th-5th centuries)

      The period of the 4th to 5th centuries A.D. was a significant stage in the history of all Central Asia as it was for Tajikistan. Political situation in Central Asia and other neighbor regions was difficult. The Parthian kingdom lost its power towards the beginning of the 3rd century B.C. and gave way to a host of new independent principalities previously within its control. One of these was ruled by Papak, of Sasanid descendency. His son Ardasher, who succeeded him, actively expanded the territory under his control. In 226 A.D., he declared himself the King of Iran and so the Sasanid dynasty (226-651 A.D.) came to power.

     The relations between the Kushan kingdom and Sasanid Iran were always strained and frequent wars occurred, victories and achievements alternating with defeats. The difficult state of domestic affairs was complicated by the continuous war in the region and by the suppression of small principalities by the Kushan state. The domination of the Sasanids was short lived and during the 5th century A.D. they started to lose their control over other Central Asian dominions. The emergence of new nomadic tribes (Khionits, Kidarites, Hephthalites) was connected with their move to West, from the regions of Central Asia. The Kushan kingdom bore down on many independent states.

     In this hard and difficult times, many cities and settlements were destroyed and failed to revive. Archaeological explorations are showing that the formation of new city cultures started simultaneously during that period, having developed in the 6th-7th centuries A.D.  This is well demonstrated in Panjakent which was built during the 5th century A.D. but it exists more ancient layers at the site. The main area of the city was about 8 hectares. The distinctive feature is that it was purpose-built, according to a specific layout. The city had a developed system of fortifications.

     A system of rural settlements was developed in the Beshkent valley in Qubadion oasis. In the 4th and the beginning of  5th centuries A.D., in addition to the Kushan settlements, new ones started to appear. The settlement of Aktepe II, situated 6 km south of Chuluchorchashma Namma has been most thoroughly examined. At this time the territory of former Bactria was called Tokharistan.

     In the northern regions, now in the territory of Ustrushana (joined from the east to Sughd) cities which had appeared in ancient times continued to exist and new fortified towns and settlements with a castle reappeared. In the site of Shirin I  as in Yavan, the upper cultural stratum corresponds mainly to the 4th – 5th centuries A.D. A part of the Kurkat cemetery is related to the same period. But the Langari Hojiyon cemetery (Isfara district, Sughd oblast) demonstrates a new phase in the development of the funeral ritual in this territory.

     On the whole, the archaeological findings are testimony of a high level of commercial production and the production of glassware and other types of handcrafts reached the level of high art.