It's our holiday bonus episode! This time, we're going to Tajikistan, to visit the intriguing murals of the Sogdians, a civilization wedged between Persians, Arabs, Turks, and Chinese, yet rich and remarkable on their own. In Panjakent, we have wall paintings of regular people, preserved for centuries. What they tell us helps explain the links between these great 7th and 8th century civilizations.
Nadeem Ahmad, of living history group Eran ud Turan, drops by to discuss Sogdian society, food, and the challenges of bringing ancient Central Asian and Iranian culture to life.
Plus, medieval Persian poetry and palav, the national dish of Tajikistan, made of rice, fried veggies, spices and sometimes lamb, although every family had their own recipe.
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Azarpay, Guitty. Sogdian Painting: The Pictorial Epic in Oriental Art
British Library, "Eighth and ninth century versions of the Rustam cycle"
BBC, "Is Oshi Palav the King of Meals?"
Grenet, Frantz and Etienne de la Vaissière. "The last days of Panjikent" in Silk Road Art and Archaeology
Lonely Planet Guide to Central Asia
Marshak, Boris. Legends, Tales, and Fables in the Art of Sogdiana
Middleton, Robert and Huw Thomas. Tajikistan and the High Pamirs
Yabukovich, Ilya, "Mugh 1.I. Revisited"
The Maya return as we visit Tikal, nestled in the jungles of northern Guatemala, and pick up the story of Nuun Ujol Chaak, after he left Palenque.
Nuun Ujol Chaak was a rebel, facing unfathomable odds against an evil empire. And even if he might fall in the end, his son Jasaw Chan Kawi'il would take up the mantle and restore Tikal to greatness. It's his pyramids that tower above the treeline, representing the greatest architectural achievement of the Classic Maya.
Nitin Sil from the Flash Point History podcast, appears to talk about his travels to Tikal, from climbing pyramids to avoiding monkeys.
Guatemala is much more than Tikal, and its history as a "Banana Republic" gets a closer look. Its food, with its roots in centuries of Maya culture, merits a taste as well, especially pipian, a pumpkin-seed based sauce that works splendidly with chicken.
Brown, Chip. "El Mirador: the Lost City of the Maya" in Smithsonian Magazine
Harrison, Peter D. The Lords of Tikal: Rulers of an Ancient Maya City
Insight Guides: Guatemala, Belize & the Yucatán
Lonely Planet Guatemala
Martin, Simon and Nikolai Grube. Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens: Deciphering the Dynasties of the Ancient Maya
Montgomery, John. Tikal: an Illustrated History of the Ancient Maya Capital
Schele, Linda and Peter Mathews. The Code of Kings : the Language of Seven Sacred Maya Temples and Tombs
Photo by user chensiyuan on wikicommons