Central Asian History Thread

Hi Veeky Forums.

I'm currently working on putting together a history podcast, called The Silk Road History Podcast, which as the name implies, will cover the history of the Silk Road and Central Asia. I've decided to take a non-linear approach, other than the preliminary episodes where I'll give kind of an overview of the history of the Silk Road. The rest, however, will be kind of like Laszlo Montgomery's China History Podcast, where I'll take deep dives into individual topics rather than tell a chronological history. The geographical extent would be anywhere from China to Istanbul, and the timeframe would be from the earliest recorded history of the region to the modern day.

My questions are: Would you be interested in a podcast like this? And if so, what would you like to hear about? Here's a few of the topics out of the forty or so that I came up with:

-The History of Silk
-The Indo-Greek Kingdoms
-The An Lushan Rebellion (multi-part series)
-Tamerlane (multi-part series)
-The One Belt One Road Initiative
-The Basmachi Revolt and the Russian Civil War in Central Asia
-Zhang Qian's Expeditions
-Modern Central Asian Geopolitics
-The Maritime Silk Road
-Sino-Roman Relations
-Xuanzang's Journey to India
-The Han-Xiongu Wars
-The History of the Uyghurs
-Baron Ungern-Sternberg
-Scientific Innovation during the Islamic Golden Age

Are there any topics in particular that you'd like to see? Any books that you could recommend me? Is this interesting to anyone?

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sounds like it'd be interesting. you've got to cover 'the great game' and all the spies, lawrence of arabia, etc.
one thing that might help you with some ideas and you might find interesting are the intangible heritage unesco things in central asia. unesco's YT channel has playlists of them, and you can search their site—the intangible ones aren't places but customs, and central asia has quite a few, some of which are pretty bizarre/out there—might expose you to some interesting history by looking into them

another question i'd have, is why people used to give so much of a fuck about spices

I'm interested. Do something akin to Revolutions podcast, where you spend a few weeks on a particular period giving timeframs and background info

Didn't put that on the list because I wanted to showcase some of the more obscure topics, but of course I have a multi-part series planned based on Peter Hopkirk's book and Kim by Rudyard Kipling. That'll probably be one of the first things I tackle for sure.

That's actually a really cool suggestion - I'll absolutely take a look at some of those and see if there's enough to make an episode out of. I was thinking of something along the lines of a nomadic culture series, covering cuisine, art, literature, stuff like that, so I might be able to put in some of those intangible heritage customs as well. I think an interesting episode would be about bride kidnapping and how it's becoming a bigger and bigger issue in some of the -stan countries.

As for spices, well, that's a whole can of worms to open. I'll definitely put together something about spices per your interest to answer that question. I'm not really much of an expert on that subject, but I have read into the history of sugar due to studying Caribbean history in college, and a really cool book about nutmeg a while ago. Could fit into the Maritime Silk Road episode. Basically spices are tasty and if you've been eating nothing but turnips and porridge then I can imagine why they got to be such a big deal.

I actually haven't listened to the Revolutions podcast before - I'll look into it and see how they approach it. I do think that would be interesting especially for some of the larger topics, like the An Lushan Rebellion and The Great Game. You really need to take time and contextualize all of that, so maybe I will adopt that kind of approach.

Would love to listen to it. I would highly recommend this book that I have just started reading that is in regards to the impact the Mongols had on Islamic culture


If you have a monotone voice with no ability to elevate the topic then just stop. The History of Rome is unlistenable.

Coincidentally, today I just added that to the reading list I've been putting together over the past few weeks! I'll be sure to order it now that I've got your recommendation.

Among the topics I spitballed was the Mongol conquests and their aftermath. Maybe cover as part of a single series the Islamic Golden Age, the Mongol conquests signifying the end of that Golden Age, the struggle between Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism to convert the Mongols, and Islam's eventual triumph.

I absolutely agree, History of Rome is garbage. I hate most history podcasts because of the narrators. That's why I love the China History Podcast - Laszlo Montgomery is great at keeping your interest and injecting just the right amount of humor. A podcast shouldn't feel like listening to a lecture. I've done a good bit of stage acting, so hopefully I'll be able to channel that. I am a bit self-conscious about my voice - I'm 23 so it still sounds youthful to me, but hopefully it won't be too much of a problem.

How long will an episode be?

Daily reminder that Afghanistan is in central asia

Anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. Some of the more individual, niche topics will be shorter I assume, and the ones that form a part of a longer series will probably be longer.

Absolutely. Part of the reason I wanted to start was not only to share what I know about the Silk Road and Central Asia (which is mostly derived from my interest in China) but also to gain a better appreciation for it. I'd love to delve deeper into Afghan history. I was thinking of covering stuff like the First Afghan War, the Soviet war with Afghanistan, and even the U.S.'s involvement in Afghanistan as well (just ordered Ghost Wars and excited to start reading). Do you have any topic in particular related to Afghanistan that you'd be interested in me looking at

Yes I would love that, user. I know very little about what was going on Central Asia for most of history, so I would really like this introduction.

If you're taking requests, I'd love an in-depth analysis of horse-archering and why it was so good against pretty much everyone from ancient times to relatively recently. IIRC in the time of Catherine the Great they were still a problem for modernized Russian forces.

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I would be interested. My first choice would be a podcast about Greco-Bactria and the Indo-Greek kingdoms.

I always wondered if a combined greek-afghan-sogdian army ever really fought punjabis. Seems like something Greeks would make up.

The monarchy is pretty cool I guess
My family goes way back with them, for example my great grandpa was amanullah's photographer and I think there's some blood relation before the 20th century

One tip I'd give you, as someone who has listened to dozens of history podcast is to write and record 5 full episodes, listen to them back and then scrap them and then rewrite and rerecord them.

You don't want listeners first impression to be you whispering or speaking too fast because don't feel comfortable in front of your mic.

Bad first impression isn't the end of the world but it will hurt until you have a decent back catalogue.

oh also the origins of the various ethnicities (pashtun/tajik/hazara/uzbek/various others) you know how they interacted throughout history and why there's so many of them

This is very good advice.

sorry, forgot the *?, and that I had planned also to talk a good deal about Afghanistan during an episode about the transmission of Buddhism along the Silk Road You know, the Bamiyan Buddhas, Gandhara, all that.

Duly noted, that is definitely an interesting question and one that deserves an answer. Maybe could bundle it along with a series on the Mongol conquests/Central Asian military history.

Mohammed Zahir Shah seems like a really interesting guy, read through his Wikipedia page and instantly added him to the list of topics to discuss. As for the ethnicities - I'll see what I can do. I would love to research them, and I think it's especially important in the context of the Taliban and the whole conflict. Not sure how much is available in English but I'll absolutely look into it.

Very good advice, and I'll take it to heart. I had planned to write and record at least 3 episodes before actually posting the first, but if you say that 5 is a better number, then so be it.


>-Scientific Innovation during the Islamic Golden Age
Since this is a series about Central Asia and the Silk Road, how about focusing this subject on the academic culture and traditions of the region, on the commonalities between the lives of all these polymaths that seemed to pop out of nowhere in this region.

Samanids, Turkification of Central Asia, Mongol invasions and successor kingdoms, rise of Uzbek khans.

How about a comfy episode about marriage customs, embroidery, and bread?

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Alright, sounds good. I was just planning on talking about how Central Asia was the real flashpoint of the Islamic Golden Age and produced the lion's share of the polymaths of the time but I can spin that way as well.

Duly noted, will add it to the queue.

I would fucking love to do an episode like that, I love Otoyomegatari to bits (btw have you seen the latest chapters, holy shit my heart). Something comfy about the customs of the peoples of Central Asia is in my top 5 topics to cover.

Do it m8. This, African history, and Pacific Islander history and Taiwanese history are gaps in muh knowledge.

Definitely yes. This is arguably a history that people in the West won't know about, yet is very interesting.

Keep us updated bro.
Have a link or something?

No link yet, my homie is currently designing the website. Probably will make a Soundcloud as well. Will be posting on Veeky Forums as soon as everything comes together.

Interesting project OP, I was always curious about the Pre-Turkic or early Iranic history of Central since I just cant find much discussion on it.

An overview of Chinas 5 barbarians
The spread of religions like Manichaeism and Buddhism
The various migrations of nomads to India by like the Kushans and the Hunas
Iranic Kingdoms like Sogdia, Khotan and the Khwarezmian empire
The history lf the horse
The emergence of the turks Scythians and Sarmatians

All of those topics look interesting.

you literally have to talk about the Tocharians

>Very good advice, and I'll take it to heart. I had planned to write and record at least 3 episodes before actually posting the first, but if you say that 5 is a better number, then so be it.

The exact number isn't important. Just make sure you spend a enough time in front of a mic and reading you own scripts to get the awkwardness out.

Set up a twitter or something so we can keep updated. I'd hate to miss this.

Persian colonizers
Mongol conquerors turned settlers
Turkic conquerors turned settlers

Can you talk about the rise of the first South East Asian kingdoms?

This is something I'd like to listen to.
As for suggestions, do you have an episode planned on the "pagan" religions of the inhabitants, like Tengriism? Also something like the history of nestorianism in Central Asia?

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Those all look good, added the ones I didn't have to my list. The Five Barbarians and the History of the Horse in particular was stuff I didn't even think about. And I will absolutely have a multi-episode series on the History of the Turks. Thanks for your input!

Don't worry, the Tocharians were one of the first topics I added to my list.

Alright, I've never really used Twitter before (well I did in high school but it's been a while).

Here's the link to the Twitter page, for anyone else who's interested:

South East Asian kingdoms might be stretching the definition of Silk Road related topics, but I'm very interested in that subject as well so I wouldn't mind looking into it. Maybe during a discussion of the Maritime Silk Road or the Southwestern Silk Road/Tea Horse Road.

I didn't previously have an episode planned on that, but now that you've mentioned it I'll add it to the queue. Tengriism and Siberian/Mongolian shamanism has always been a subject of of interest to me so I'd love to learn some more about it. As for Nestorianism, absolutely; that was another of the topics that first sprang to mine when I was spitballing, along with Manichaeism. Both of them are just so bizarre - how did the Nestorians end up all the way in China? And how did Manichaeism become the state religion of the Uyghur Khaganate? That's the kind of thing I'd love to talk about. Thanks for your input user!

If you're going to talk about Buddhism make sure you bring up Gandhara and Nalanda OP

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Absolutely, there's no way I'd forget them.

For anyone interested in the religions of the Silk Road in the meantime, I'd highly recommend Religions of the Silk Road by Richard Foltz. It's incredibly informative and quite short as well. I'll be using it as a source for a lot of my podcasts.

I think this is a great idea OP. I'd just like to urge you to take care with the name pronunciations. Like obviously you don't speak all these languages but I think it's important to at least look up how they sound so you don't totally butcher them.

t. sperglord linguist

Of course. I'm an autist about pronunciation as well. Nothing makes me cringe more than shitty Americanized pronunciation of names, so never fear, I'm on it.

>Persian colonizers
no, I've seen you around so much, you're an absolute moron

tajiks are descended from bactrians/sogdians, not persians

Did you post this on reddit history too? Might be a good idea

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I posted it on /r/podcasts but I'll post it on /r/history as well.

I'd really enjoy an in-depth look at ancient tribes, the ones that usually dress the female with coins and jewelry and that you can see similarities in tribes around different areas suing a similar color on their cloths or similar coins or similar chains, etc. I think ther is so much shit that should be analized and talked about there, so much info that is lost to just "tribal costumes", when they really are like an old book waiting to be readed.

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Yet you're willing to butcher English with plebbit buzzwords.

Keep in mind that Nestorians considered themselves to be preaching Christianity, not 'Nestorianism'. I cringe when it's listed as a separate religion, like on the Mongol Empire wiki page.

Speaking of which, when discussing Nestorians, their place with the imperial dynasty of Mongols would be a hood topic. You may or may not know the mother of Kublai and Hulagu was one.

>Alright, I've never really used Twitter before (well I did in high school but it's been a while).




Worst case scenario

Thanks for letting me know, I'll be sure not to fudge that up another time. I was actually aware of the Nestorians' role in the Mongol imperial dynasty! I think a fascinating topic would be the struggle between Islam, Christianity, and Buddhism to convert the Mongols and achieve supremacy in Central Asia.

I'm 23 my dude.

I'm not anti-American, I'm pro-proper pronunciation. I'm an American and consequently some of the more egregious examples of poor pronunciation I've heard have come from Americans.

Can't help that Reddit can be a good place for advertisement and outreach even if it's not very good for discussion. Don't really care either way.

Talk about the small religion of Zunism

Never heard about this, but it looks pretty interesting. Adding it to the queue.

Do you have any books or articles that I could turn to to take a deeper look into it?

Sadly it was such a small blip in history i only have wikipedia

I would really love to hear about the pre islamic cultural and religious traditions of the area. As well as how this was all changed or blended in post invasions.

Also maybe this is too niche but it would be interesting going into specific economics of the trade. Like what was silk actually traded for and how much money was that really in some little trading town in central asia.

What is the geographical extent of the topics you wanna cover? Are you going by the UNESCO definition?

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afghanistan and the common modern definition of central asia, nothing else

I'm extremely interested, would like if possible episodes on
>things related to women like marriage and etc

No problem, and I just remembered that saying Christianity has ambiguity too, because I read there were some Orthodox, non-'Nestorian' communities in Central Asia as well, it seems.

And I posted . I was just kidding about that... or testing you.

That is sad, but I'll look into it and see if I can scrounge anything else up.

Duly noted, I am going to try and cover stuff like Tengriism, Mongolian shamanism, Zoroastrianism, Chinese folk religion, and etc. I admit that beyond that I'm not entirely certain about the pre-Islamic customs of the area, but I am going to be going through two books about the pre-history and early history of the area to write up the overview episode, so maybe I'll find something about that in the interim. As the for second topic, well, I'm no economist, but I'll try and include something to the effect of what you suggested! If you haven't already, I'd recommend picking up Valerie Hansen's book "The Silk Road: A New History". I won't lie to you and say that it's riveting reading, but it's very informative and based on the latest archaeology of the region, and there's a lot about the economics of the trade. I'll be referring to it as a source without a doubt.

I'm not this guy
I won't be following the UNESCO definition, no. I'd like to take a more generous approach to what I consider the Silk Road: pretty much anywhere from Istanbul to China is fair game, and really India and Southeast Asia as well. The Silk Road should be more appropriately called the Silk Roads; there were multiple so-called roads, many of them which passed outside of the traditional extent of Central Asia. The Northern route, the Southern route, the Southwestern route (or the Tea Horse Road), and the Maritime Silk Road, all were different. I'm approaching it so that things related to the Silk Road can also be encompassed, even if they weren't specifically contained within the ambit of Central Asia.

Alright, you're the third user to suggest this so it's officially on the queue of topics to cover. I'd love to do an episode on that as well, so I'll be on the lookout for sources.

[Citations needed]

Do the mountain route from India to China.

just look at basic geography and genetics, tajiks from afghanistan/tajikistan are descended from the iranic groups that resided there, namely bactrians and sogdians

there is no input of persians into those areas aside from language/culture (persian language/culture overtook all iranic language/cultures more or less)

sure, some persians from places like fars may have went into central asia but the amount is small

also don't bother replying, you are a complete cuck who believes iranians are white, pathetic

I think it would be a really good idea as long as you have a good delivery and don't come off as boring. If your confident enough about that definitely go ahead with it and keep us updated.

I'm asking for sources. Nearly every peer reviewed source I've read confirms that Tajiks are indeed ancient Persian colonizers.

Nice ad-hominem

>Nearly every peer reviewed source I've read confirms that Tajiks are indeed ancient Persian colonizers
sounds like bullshit, show me

virtually every historian who studies central asia considers tajiks to be the successors to bactrians and sogdians

also historically, persian and tajik meant the same thing, tajik is just the turkic word for persian people just like how persian is the greek word

Sorry if you’ve answered this already, where will it be accessible? (YouTube, ITunes, etc.)?

I'm trying to keep the delivery dynamic and the writing kind of sarcastic so that's it's not a slog.

I'll be posting the episodes on Soundcloud, iTunes, Spotify (eventually), and on my own website.

Here are some links:

This seems as good a place as any to ask so what history podcasts would you reccomend?

OP here, I'd highly recommend the China History Podcast if you're into Chinese history. Make sure that it's the China History Podcast and not the History of China Podcast, which is not so good.

Some others I've enjoyed have been:
-History of Alchemy Podcast
-The Maritime History Podcast
-Eastern Border
-History of Egypt Podcast
-History of Byzantium Podcast

There's generally a podcast out there for every major area of history (except for Silk Road history, which is a gap I'm trying to fill), so just shop around for one. Their quality varies greatly, though.

Thank you! I could definitely really get into the Egypt and Byzantium ones I've also checked out the china one as it was mentioned earlier. Good Luck with your podcast.

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Are you going to talk about how Central Asia was Nordic before the Mongols genocided them?

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Nah miss me with that /pol/ shit

>facts are /pol/ shit

You can't find facts on /pol/.

Central Asia has always been a kaleidoscope of different people and cultures as a result of millennia of migrations. While it's certainly the case that there were Caucasoid peoples living in Central Asia as your image indicates, it's pure fantasy to imply that a vast region like Inner Asia was dominated by a single people or culture and even more ridiculous to intimate that that people was "Nordic". I know you're probably half-memeing but please don't clog up the thread with this myopic obsession with genetics.

Nice OP.

If you're going to make it accurate, don't forget to mention the fact that the commonly sourced citations of Buddha having blue eyes is from the Buddhist '32 Signs of a Great Man', which it itself is a relic of Brahmanism that was later incorporated into Buddhism as Hinduism and Buddhism merged.

And also that according to the Tipiñaka the special thing about Buddha was that he seemed perfectly ordinary.

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Look my dude, I know you so desperately want to believe in your wewuz fantasy, but I really could care less. If Gautama had blue eyes, he had blue eyes. He was likely mixed race, of Indo-Scythian descent. I don't see it as really that important, and if we're going to be accurate why don't you mention that that claim in and of itself is hotly disputed, and the 32 Signs of a Great Man is notorious in Buddhist scholarship.

What is accurate is that historical truth is ambiguous. I have no interest in using the podcast to promote the ridiculous notion that Aryans and whities were the founders of all human civilization. And Gautama, who preached against castes and the illusion of the flesh, would certainly not have found anything in common with your obsession with race.

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>and the 32 Signs of a Great Man is notorious in Buddhist scholarship.
I'm not surprised. Brahma and Vishnu also have 32 signs so I think Buddha was integrated as a god in ancient Hinduism.

>And Gautama, who preached against castes and the illusion of the flesh, would certainly not have found anything in common with your obsession with race.
But I unironically don't. I thought he had blue eyes myself before browsing Veeky Forums.

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The 32 Signs of a Great Man was written in the 2nd century AD, centuries after Gautama's death. Am I to believe then that the 32 Signs is an accurate description of the Buddha's appearance? When Gauatama appears as a monkey in the jataka tales, am I to believe that he really lived a past life as a monkey? The 32 Signs is a work of myth, certainly interesting in its reflection of idealized beauty in the society that produced it, but it should not be read as a serious description of Shakyamuni's appearance. He may indeed have been Indo-Scythian, had black hair, blue eyes, and fair skin, but that isn't a statement of value, and neither does it somehow prove the hypothesis that Central Asia was Nordic.

>But I unironically don't
>Is trying to argue that Central Asia was populated by Nords before they were genocided by Mongoloids

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Ye, looks extremely interesting. Let us know when it is up. My personal favourite would be manichaeism.

Amazing idea!

Bactrians, Soghdians, Chorasmians, etc. They speak a more antiquated, royal version of Farsi. Composed the majority of the Northern Alliance in the civil war.
Mongol-Iranian mix, speak a variety of Farsi. Part of the Northern Alliance.
Turkic-Iranian mix, speak Uzbek and Farsi. Part of the Northern Alliance.
Unknown, although they were Hindu's and Buddhists in the past. They are the most illiterate culture in the region, were the last to start writing, and so we don't have records of their ethnogenesis. They speak Pashto and Farsi. Composed the Taliban in the civil war.



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t. assmad massoud

Add Marco Polo and Prester John.
If you can do it like for example Dan Carlin or The History of Rome it'll be amazing.

You got a rebuttal to anything I said?


Wots dis

Mongolian royal garb from late Qing dynasty; Queen Amidala's whole look is based on it.

Definitely interested, but the most important thing is that you tell a good story.

There are so many good history podcasts content wise but nearly all of them are just a guy reading from a page. There's no discussion or narrative or flair.

It'll take time to get it right but that has to be where you're aiming to be.

If you covered the Parthian/Arsacid empire I would love you for a long time. I have a lot of trouble finding info on them outside of what I already have.

Outside of that, maybe a brief touching on how the discovery of the monsoon season/winds helped supplant the numerous land routes as the preferred method of trading.

Prester John! Great idea.

Absolutely. I hate podcasts where it's just like reading a Wikipedia article. I intend to bring some flair and panache to it.

Good topics both, I'll see what I can do.

By the way, here's a list of the topics that I've compiled so far. I think this should be a good menu to work through for the next while.

>Aurel Stein, Sven Hedin, Ōtani Kōzui, and Albert von Le Coq: Explorers of the Silk Road (multi-part series)
>The History of Silk
>The An Lushan Rebellion (multi-part series)
>Zhang Qian’s expedition
>Indo-Greek kingdoms
>The History of Buddhism on the Silk Road
>The Great Game (multi-part series)
>Central Asian Dictatorial Regimes
>History of Samarkand
>Islamic Golden Age in Central Asia
>History of the Uyghur People
>Central Asian Islam
>The Mongol Conquests (multi-part series)
>Xuanzang’s Journey to India
>The One Belt, One Road Initiative
>Modern Central Asian Geopolitics
>The Han-Xiongnu Wars
>Battle of the Faiths: The Struggle Between Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism to Convert the Mongols and Achieve Religious Supremacy along the Silk Road
>Timur (multi-part series)
>History of the Sogdians
>History of the Tocharians
>The Tarim Mummies
>The Soviet Conquest of Central Asia
>Baron Ungern-Sternberg
>The Basmachi Revolt and the Russian Civil War in Central Asia
>Sino-Roman Relation
>Lawrence of Arabia
>Mohammed Zahir Shah
>History of Horse Archery
>The Soviet-Afghan War
>The History of the Taliban
>Ibn Battuta
>Marco Polo
>Culture of the Peoples of Central Asia (multi-part series)
>The Dzungarian Genocide
>Rise of the Uzbek Khans
>Uprising of the Five Barbarians
>History of the Horse
>History of the Turks (multi-part series)
>History of the Khazars
>Attila the Hun
>Religions of the Silk Road Series: Buddhism, Manichaeism, Islam, Nestorianism, Zoroastrianism, Tengriism, Chinese Folk Religion, Shamanism, etc.
>Rabban bar Sauma
>The Voyages of Zheng He
>Impact of the Crusades on the Silk Road
>Spread of the Plague by the Silk Road
>The Persian Royal Road
>The Travels of Faxian
>Prester John
>History of Opium and the Silk Road
>History of Chang'an
>Some multi-part series about Tibet
>Art of the Silk Road

>Indo-Scythian descent.
Nah this is a meme with very little to substantiate it, and is right. It's not about race or whatever either. Having blue eyes would make him more likely a descendant of Tocharians rather than Scythians, and this is a pretty far-fetched idea.

Hey OP, I have academic background in East Iranic linguistics. If you want someone to talk to regarding that (which I assume is a peripheral topic but perhaps useful for the antiquity part of your podcast), or Avestan/Sanskrit stuff, I'd be willing to give some references or answer questions.

>A lot of stuff from Iranian history: the Parthians, the Sasanians, etc. Will have to come back and look at it in detail.
>Fall of the Silk Road: An Investigation (a look at how and if the Silk Road ever truly declined and was superseded by maritime routes; look at the contending voices in the literature)
>Something about Georgia and Armenia; would love to look at them in depth

There are honestly so many topics that I want to cover, but I want to pace myself for now and see how much I can cover. It's going to take a lot of research and reading but I'm so glad that there is interest in this field of study and I hope I can live up to your expectations, and that I've put down the majority of your suggestions for topics in this list.

That would be great! I am definitely going to be tackling Zoroastrianism, early Buddhism, the Indo-Greek kingdoms and a good deal about Iran at some point so I would love to have someone versed in Avestan or Sanskrit. If you'd like, you can shoot me an email at [email protected] and we can talk about it, even if it's just source sharing!

would you talk about transsiberian railway and russian empire in central asia? russian presence basically defines modern history of central asia. how about connecting central asia to general steppe culture in western eurasia and its relationship to central asia (golden horde, subjugation of russia, the essential role of crimea in italian international trade, settlement of supposedly central asian tribes in eastern europe and its effects on history and later national identities). Honestly, I hate to bring up more because so many anons have already given you great ideas here. I just hope we're not making your plate too full.

How similiar were Avestan and Vedic Sanskrit? The examples I've seen seem almost as similiar as Czech and Slovak, with only phonetic shifts differentiating the languages (apart from quirks like the Sanskrit word for god being the Avestan word for a demon, clearly explainable by religious rivarly) so is this reddit.com/r/badlinguistics/comments/5f9h7a/now_sanskrit_and_avestan_are_sister_languages reallly "bad linguistics" (redditors don't seem to understand thst yes, there are languages closer than English and Flemish).

Also, a bit offtopic, but why does Sanskrit/Avestan contain so many obvious correspondences with Slavic, even with my modern native language, Slovak (such as veda in Sanskrit meaning knowledge and veda in Slovak meaning science, with vedieť being Slovak for "to know", Avestan ziiā̊/Sanskrit hima for winter while winter in Slovak is zima, kadā́ for when in Sanskrit vs Slovak kedy - and yes, those are all from the same PIE roots, the Sanskrit Swadesh list is like half composed of cognates with Slovak), with surprisingly little semantic shift) yet modern Iranian or Indo-Aryan languages are mostly bizzare gibberish to a Slavic eye and ear?

Wouldn’t mind something on the lost cities and monasteries of the Taklamakan desert as well as the history of lop nur.