Readers will discover through this six-volume work cultures that flourished and vanished from the dawn of civilization to the present time and how the history of the ancient and medieval world was shaped by the movements of peoples in this heartland of Eurasia, stretching from the Caspian Sea to the borders of China.
This volume continues the history of Central Asian civilizations from c. 1500 to c. 1850, a period which saw the last medieval empires, notably the Uzbeks, Safavids, Mughals and Dzungars, and witnessed the early impact of colonialism. Like the preceding volumes, the present one also deals with all the diverse elements of culture. It describes the last phase of nomadism as a viable system of social organization; the effects on Central Asian economies of the shift of the main lines of international trade from the Great Silk Route to the oceanic routes; the various schools of art; the last great age of classical Persian literature and the growth of Turkic literatures; and, finally, in the religious sphere, the Shi'ite triumph in Persia, the conversion of the Mongol peoples to Buddhism, and the rise of Sikhism. It also analyses the problem of the lag in Central Asian scientific and technological development in relation to Europe and the nature of early colonialism - notably British and Russian - in Central Asia. The conclusion sums up the main trends in Central Asian history from the sixteenth to the mid-nineteenth century.