(Pompeii of Central Asia)
The ancient Penjikent is a major Sogdian town founded in the 5th century and abandoned in the 8th century. At its height the settlement town was one of the most cosmopolitan cities on the Silk Road and a rich trading centre. Due to the discovered well-preserved ruins of the citadel, including a palace, a temple of fire worshippers, craftsmen’s workshops, a bazaar, streets and squares, two and three-storey houses, numerous statues and wall paintings in both public and private houses, Penjikent was named as the “Pompeii of Central Asia”. The great archeological excavations site “Sarazm” is located 14 km to the west from the Penjikent, which was included in the “World Historical Heritage” by UNESCO in 2010.
Russian and Tajik archeologists started excavations of ancient Penjikent in 1946. About half of the site has been excavated. The city was besieged by the Arabs in AD 722 and much of the city It is possible to see a few of the frescoes illuminating the legends and beliefs of the Sogdians, their appearance, dressing and way of life at the Museum of National Antiquities (Dushanbe) and some
more at the Rudaki Museum (Penjikent), however the majority and the finest examples are in the Hermitage (St. Petersburg). was set on fire. As at Pompeii, the record was preserved at a moment in time. Walls caved in preserving fragments of frescoes, which have been painstakingly restored. The fire also preserved some partly burned wooden statues and altars that would otherwise have rotted away