ERC Postdoctoral Researcher

Faculty / College Address:

Oriental Institute / St Antony’s College



Research Interests:

I am a philologist of ancient Iranian languages, with a focus on Khotanese, an eastern-Iranian language spoken in the oasis-state of Khotan (in present-day Xinjiang, China) during the sixth to the eleventh centuries CE. I am particularly interested in secular documents from Khotan, through which I can listen to the voices of Khotanese people and elucidate various aspects of life in Khotan, such as the bureaucratic administration system, the taxation procedure, the corvée work distribution, and the convention of contracts. From these documents, Khotan emerges not as a prosperous entrepôt, as the term ‘Silk Road’ would suggest, but as a small state in a strategic location with limited resources constantly adjusting itself between Tang China and the Tibet Empire so as to retain a degree of autonomy.

Current Projects:

Invisible East

Recent Publications:

2019 “Sogdians in Khotan.” The Silk Road Journal 16 (2018) [2019], 30-43.

2018 “Secular Khotanese Documents and the Administrative System in Khotan.” Bulletin of the Asia Institute 28 (2014) [2018], 57-98.

Full / Other Publications:

2017 “Kings of Khotan during the Tang Dynasty.” Bulletin of the Asia Institute 27 (2013) [2017], 151-61.

2016 “Sute shangrende jiebanren? — guankui silu shangde Yilangyoutai shangren.” 栗 特商⼈的接班⼈?—— 管窥丝路上的伊朗犹太商⼈ [The successors of the Sogdian traders? — a glimpse of the Irano-Jewish merchants on the Silk Road] Suteren zai zhongguo: kaogu faxian yu chutu wenxiande xinyinzhang 粟特⼈在中国:考 古发现与出⼟⽂献的新印证 [Sogdians in China: new evidence from archeological finds and unearthed documents]. Ed. Rong Xinjiang 荣新江 and Luo Feng 罗丰. Beijing: Kexue chubanshe. 661-672.

2016 “The Second Jewish-Persian Letter, ca. 790, Zhang Zhan, [trans.], 2015.” in Valarie Hansen, The Silk Road: A New History with Documents. New York, Ox-ford: Oxford University Press. 381-382.

2013 “Canyude Suteyu shuxin.” 残余的粟特语书信 [The remaining Sogdian letters] Xinjiang bowuguan xinhuo wenshu yanjiu 新疆博物馆新获⽂书研究 [A study on the documents newly acquired by the Xinjiang Museum]. Ed. Zhongguo Wenhua Yichan Yanjiuyuan 中国⽂化遗产研究院 [Chinese Academy of Cultural Heritage] and Xinjiang Weiwuer Zizhiqu Bowuguan 新疆维吾尔⾃治区博物馆 [Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Museum]. Beijing: Zhonghua Shuju. 96.

2009 “Yijian xinfaxian Youtaibosiyu xinzha de duandai yu shidu.” ⼀件新发现犹太波斯 语信札的断代与释读 [Dating and interpretation of a newly-discovered Judaeo Persian letter] Dunhuang tulufan yanjiu 敦煌吐鲁番研究 11 (2008) [2009]: 77-99.

Further Information:

I founded and host a podcast (in Chinese) called Tianshu (lit. ‘the Celestial Book’, meaning ‘gibberish’ in Chinese), covering a variety of topics, mainly on ancient history and languages.

Zhan Zhang