Prof. Dr. Jürgen Paul

Subject I

Ulrike Berndt, M.A.

Subject II

Dr. Wolfgang Holzwarth


Other Phases of Research:

2008–2012 (D5)
2004–2008 (D5)

Project Group B: Prey and Statehood, Project B2

Nomadic Rule in Sedentary Context:
Formation of States in Central Asia,
16th and 18th Centuries 


The project "Nomadic Rule in a Sedentary Context: State Formation in Central Asia, 16th and 18th Centuries" (B2) comprises two chronologically distinct fields of work. Combining research on the 16th and 18th centuries, the project outlines a study of long-term processes of transition and transformation following a nomadic expansion, in this case the conquest in c. 1500 of Mawarannahr (Transoxania) by Uzbek groups immigrating from the open steppe into a mixed agro-pastoral zone. It was the last great inroad of nomadic groups into this area where Uzbek dynasties continued to rule till 1920.

The project tries to trace the evolution of Central Asian states since 1500. How did the nomadic immigrants adapt their mode of subsistence to the social and ecological conditions of the agro-pastoral zone, marked by urban centres and irrigated agriculture? In particular, to focus is on the military and the state. By enquiring into continuities and changes in the sphere of the military and the state and which extent Central Asian states have been dominated by nomads since c. 1500.

Subject I: 16th Century

At the end of the 15th/beginning of the 16th century Transoxania was conquered by Uzbek tribes under the leadership of the Chingizid ruler Muhammad Shaibani Khan. In the course of the conquest large groups of Uzbek nomads from the northern steppe came into the region. The project deals with the formation and evolution of the state that developed from these events and whose rulers and military foundation came from a nomadic background.

It is investigated which types of nomadism existed in Central Asia and how the incoming nomads adapted themselves to the new cultural environment. Further it is to be analyzed what changes are found in the political structure of nomadic groups and how the state incorporated these groups into the government. A particularly interesting point is the way in which the Shaibanid rulers organized and realized their military campaigns. From this it should be possible to draw conclusions about how strong the nomadic element was in Central Asia and if that changed over the decades.

The sources that are used to achieve this are mainly historiographical works and documents from Transoxania and Iran written in Persian, hagiographies will be helpful as well.

Subject II: 18th Century

The second sub-project deals with developments in the 18th century, asking: How and to which extent did features of nomadic rule still persist in the social context of sedentary and urban culture two to three centuries after a nomadic confederation had conquered the area. In general, the project studies processes of sedentarisation and the evolution of mixed and transitional forms in the economy and modes of life of Uzbek groups. Besides, there is a particular focus on developments in the organisation of the state and the military, especially the role of Uzbek groups in the Central Asian khanate's political and social fabric. The study concentrates on the Bukharan state whose territory considerably shrunk during the 18th century. Narrative sources as well as documents—including copies of documents preserved in insha' collections—are to be consulted.


Prof. Dr. Jürgen Paul

The State and the Military – a Nomadic Perspective. In: Mitteilungen des SFB "Differenz und Integration" 5 (2003), 25–68.

Nomaden in persischen Quellen. In: Mitteilungen des SFB "Differenz und Integration" 1 (2002), 11–40.

(ed.): Katalog sufischer Handschriften aus der Bibliothek des Instituts für Orientalistik der Akademie der Wissenschaften, Republik Usbekistan. Stuttgart 2002 (Verzeichnis der Orientalischen Handschriften in Deutschland, Supplementband 37).

The Histories of Isfahan: Mafarrukhi's Kitâb mahâsin Isfahân. In: Iranian Studies 33 (2000), 117–132.

The Histories of Herat. In: Iranian Studies 33 (2000), 93–115.

Doctrine and Organization. The Khwâjagân-Naqshbandîya in the First Generation after Bahâ'uddîn. Berlin/Halle 1998 (ANOR 1). Russische Übersetzung als: "Doktrina i organizacija Chwadzhagan-Naqšbandija v pervom pokolenii posle Bacha' ad-dina" (Übersetzung: E. Berezina). In: A. Chismatulin (ed.): Sufizm v central'noj Azii. Zarubezhnye issledovanija. Sankt Peterburg 2001, 114–199.

Herrscher, Gemeinwesen, Vermittler: Ostiran und Transoxanien in vormongolischer Zeit. Stuttgart 1996 (Beiruter Texte und Studien 59).

The State and the Military: The Samanid Case. Bloomington (Ind.), 1994 (Papers on Inner Asia 26).

The Histories of Samarqand. In: Studia Iranica 22 (1993), 62–92.

Die politische und soziale Bedeutung der Naqšbandiyya in Mittelasien im 15. Jahrhundert. Berlin 1991.

Hagiographische Texte als historische Quelle. In: Saeculum 41 (1990), 17–43.

Dr. Wolfgang Holzwarth

Sources of Gilgit, Hunza and Nager History (1500–1800) and Notes on the Oral Roots of Local Historiography. In: H. Kreutzmann (ed.): Karakorum in Transition. Karachi/Oxford. Im Druck.

Nomaden und Seßhafte in turkî-Quellen (narrative Quellen aus dem frühen 16. Jahrhundert). In: Mitteilungen des SFB "Differenz und Integration" 2: Akkulturation und Selbstbehauptung (2002), 147–165.

Shaibaniden und Khanfürstentümer – Geschichte. In: M. Hattstein/P. Delius (eds.): Islam – Kunst und Architektur. Köln 2000, 431–435.

Change in Pre-Colonial Times. An Evaluation of Sources on the Karakorum and Eastern Hindukush Regions (from 1500 to 1800). In: I. Stellrecht (ed.): Karakorum–Hindukush–Himalaya: Dynamics of Change. Köln 1998, 297–337.

Ein Kriegszug in das Bashgal-Tal (um 1790) und sein regionalpolitischer Kontext. In: Strany i narody Vostoka (St. Petersburg) 30 (1998), 369–384.

Islam in Baltistan. Problems of Research on the Formative Period. In: I. Stellrecht (ed.): The Past in the Present: Horizons of Remembering in the Pakistan Himalaya. Köln 1997, 1–40.

Chitral History, 1540–1660. Comments on Sources and Historiography. In: E. Bashir/Israr-ud-din (eds.): Proceedings of the Second International Hindukush Cultural Conference. Karachi 1996, 117–134.

Die Ismailiten in Nordpakistan. Zur Entwicklung einer religiösen Minderheit im Kontext neuer Außenbeziehungen. Berlin 1994 (Ethnizität und Gesellschaft. Occasional Papers 21).

Sich verständlich machen: Tak und Shamlar aus Kamdesh beantworten einen Fragebogen des Generals Auguste Court zum 'kafirischen Lebensstil'. In: C. Elsas/R. Haffke/H.-M. Haussig u. a. (ed.): Tradition und Translation. Zum Problem der interkulturellen Übersetzbarkeit religiöser Phänomene. Berlin/New York 1994, 179–199.

Vom Fürstentum zur afghanischen Provinz – Badakhshan 1880–1935. Soziale Prozesse in einem zentralasiatischen Grenzgebiet. Berlin 1990.

Ulrike Berndt, M.A.

Contribution: J. Paul (ed.): Katalog sufischer Handschriften aus der Bibliothek des Instituts für Orientalistik der Akademie der Wissenschaften, Republik Usbekistan. Stuttgart 2002 (Verzeichnis der orientalischen Handschriften in Deutschland 37).