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The Sogdians were a historic Central Asian people who originated in the region of present-day western Tajikistan and surrounding areas of Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. The Sogdians spoke a language related to Persian and were major players in the medieval Central Asian caravan trade, forming crucial contacts between Persia, China, and Tibet. They were important conduits of artistic traditions and material culture, including Sasanian metalwork and Central Asian silk weaving. After the Arab conquest of their homeland in the eighth century, the Sogdians mostly disappeared from history, although the Sogdian language is still spoken by a few thousand people in the mountains of Tajikistan.