1. Nomitkon, Tajikistan — The Sogdians were the the great merchants of the Silk Road, the network of trade routes that connected West and East from Antiquity until the Renaissance.  The Arab conquest destroyed their civilization about 1300 years ago.  Sogdians converted to Islam, lost their language, lost their identity.  But a small number of Sogdians refused to convert and fled to the remote Yaghnob Valley where they still live, speaking their ancient language and maintaining their separate identity. I stayed several days with this woman’s family.  Sitting near the stove, drinking tea, I listened to the sound of their voices, to a language that once sounded in all the cities and trading centers from Rome to Xian, and that now can only be heard amongst a few hundred people in this faraway valley.

     
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    Once you convert to Islam, you literally lose everything.
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    Reading this makes me a little sad, and makes my mind wonder how things might have gone differently for these people.
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