Findings from the Early Paleolithic have been made in the more low-lying areas, while the higher lying parts do not appear to have colonized until the Late Paleolithic. During the 2000s BC among other things, appeared the so-called elevator culture, a variant of Central Asia’s Neolithic culture. From the latter part of the Bronze Age, the Beškent and Cust cultures (nomads and farmers, respectively) originate. During the 700s and 600s BC occurred the transition to the Iron Age. A large part of the population were nomads with an older Iron Age culture with a similar resemblance to the Scots. Constantly changing relationships between the steppes and the mountain population subsequently led to large physical variations in the population composition, while the cultural differences are hardly as clear.
Indian and Persian sources from the centuries before the beginning of our era testify that the present Tajikistan territory was already inhabited by Persian-speaking people as well as large parts of Central Asia at that time. See abbreviationfinder for geography, history, society, politics, and economy of Tajikistan. The land between Amu-Darja and Syr-Darja, through which the Silk Road from Samarkand to China, was conquered by the Arabs in the early seventies and ruled by various Persian-speaking Islamic dynasties in the early Middle Ages. During the Samaritan empire of the 9th century (see Sami dynasty), Samarkand and Buchara (in present-day Uzbekistan) grew in importance as commercial cities.
From the 11th century, the area was characterized by cultural contradictions in connection with recurring Turkish and Mongolian invasion waves. Dominated by Turkish-speaking peoples, especially after Uzbek prominence in the early 16th century, the people of present-day Tajikistan could only with difficulty retain Persian as a spoken and written language. Constant conflicts along this cultural boundary had led to economic decline and political disintegration in several khanas and emirates in the 19th century, including Kokand and Buchara, which occupied the territory of modern Tajikistan. In the 1860s, these areas succumbed to Tsarist troops and were incorporated into the Russian General Government of Turkestan. In the Russian market, Turkestan soon gained a colonial position as a cotton producer, and railways were built to connect the commodity area with the textile industries in central Russia.
Part of the Soviet Union
When the newly formed Soviet Union drew on the political map of Central Asia and founded Tajikistan as an autonomous republic in 1924 and a full state in 1929, there was no obvious capital. Both the ancient capital of the Tajik dynasties of Buchara and Samarkand, both of which still have a large proportion of Tajik residents, ended up in the new Soviet Republic of Uzbekistan. In the absence of historical monumental buildings, the Soviet power instead sought to give status to the new capital of Dushanbe by transporting modern factory machines with a camel caravan.
After a revolt against the Soviet power that was not defeated until 1926, Sovietization began: the illiteracy was eradicated, the religion was fought, the Latin and then the Cyrillic alphabet were introduced and agriculture was collectivized. The creation of its own ethnic territory in the 1920s gave the Tajiks an embryo for national consciousness, which further grew as Tajikistan became an independent state at the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Tajikistan under Emomali Rachmon
The boundaries of the five states that the Soviet Union created in Central Asia during the 1920s and 1930s did not coincide with the natural boundaries in the same way as they did in the pre-colonial khanas. The mountains that once formed state borders ended up in the middle of New Tajikistan and isolated the Tajik part of the Fergana Valley and Badachshan in the east from the central parts of the country.
When the political power in connection with the dissolution of the Soviet Union was moved from Moscow to Dushanbe, competition between the regional elites turned into a civil war. The war also reflected political contradictions between the Communist Party on the one hand and the Islamic Renewal Party, the Democratic Party and the nationalist movement Rastochez (‘Rebirth’). In the war that was most intense in 1992-94, according to various sources, between 50,000 and 100,000 people were killed.
Following the 1997 peace deal, Communists under President Emomali Rachmon (Head of State since 1992) were guaranteed two-thirds of all higher administrative posts. Gradually, Rachmon has taken an even firmer grip on power and occupied several key positions with people from his own region of Kuljab.