114 portrait of a Soghdian Queen

114 • Portrait of a Soghdian Queen

Soghdiana (Uzbekistan), 6th–7th century AD
Size: 32 cm high
Clay with polychrome stucco decoration

The great wealth of the Soghdians came from their ability to run the Silk Road for more than half a millennium.  Every Soghdian was literate and numerate, and their trading posts stretched from China and India to the Mediterranean.  They hired the pack animals that made up the caravans, arranged insurance, had a reliable intelligence system to avoid running into danger, and brokered deals at the destination.  The sophistication of the ruling elite can be seen in the frescos from the palace of Panjikirt.