During research on this book it became clear that at no time has even summary treatment been accorded to the most important eras and their events in the earlier history of the Pamir region, especially before the time of Russian expansion and the Great Game.1 We shall therefore begin with a brief survey of the successive settlements and overlordships and their consequences, with a view to establishing at least a rudimentary historical background for discussion of the cultural tradition of the Pamiris. As for the dispute between Russia and British India, so much in the forefront of public interest at the time, it will suffice to append a few basic observations on the so-called ‘Great Game’, together with references to the extensive literature on the subject. A cultural history of the Pamirs will, of course, not be complete without looking at the Silk Road and its significance for this mountainous region.