Mr Daniel John Sheridan (2019)
Captivated by the origins of peoples, cultures, and languages, I embarked on learning Mandarin Chinese as a senior in high school and subsequently obtained a BA in History. Afterward, I moved to Northeast China for three years: two years as a university English instructor and one year as a Confucius Scholarship language student. Interactions with people and places connected with Central Asia and the Middle East propelled my pursuit of a MA in Iranian Studies at SOAS, University of London. My thesis translated and provided commentary on a significant 7th century Chinese envoy report on the Sogdian city of Samarqand, including an oft-cited account of Zoroastrian funerary practices. This was the first time the account had been translated into English in its entirety. Generously enabled by the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, my PhD seeks to shed further light on the Sogdians, an Eastern Iranian people that primarily lived in modern-day Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Although best known as Silk Road traders par excellence, I will focus on non-trader motifs in Chinese primary accounts to obtain a more holistic view of the Sogdians. My research fits under broader interdisciplinary Sino-Iranian studies, which have demonstrated the significant influences Chinese and Iranian civilizations have had on each other as well as increasing awareness and understanding of Central Asia.