Central Asia, Persia and Afghanistan, 1834-1922: From Silk Road to Soviet Rule‎

Sources from The National Archives, UK

Confidential Print: Middle East, 1839-1969The collection contains documents from the British National Archives on the history of Persia, Central Asia and Afghanistan. These range from correspondence or protocols to intelligence reports, newspaper extracts and maps.

To the archive

The database can be searched in full text. Documents can be downloaded in their original layout as PDF.

The database allows full-text search. Documents can be downloaded in their original layout as PDF. The collection is available free of charge in Germany and in German research institutions abroad via national licence.

About the Archive

Description by the provider Adam Matthew Digital

This collection of Foreign Office files examines the history of Persia (Iran), Central Asia and Afghanistan from the decline of the Silk Road in the first half of the 19th century to the establishment of Soviet rule over parts of the region in the early 1920s. It covers the era of “The Great Game” – a political and diplomatic confrontation between the Russian and British empires over influence, territory and trade in a vast region, from the Black Sea in the west to the Pamir Mountains in the east.

Consisting of correspondence, intelligence reports, agent diaries, logs, maps, newspaper extracts and other materials from the FO 65, FO 106, FO 371 and FO 539 series, this resource forms one of the largest existing historical documents relating to this region and offers insights not only into the impact of great power politics on the region. but also the peoples, cultures and societies of the region.

Character recognition and download

The database allows full-text search. The English texts of the archive were obtained by digital character recognition (OCR). Documents can be downloaded in their original layout as PDF files.


The licensing was arranged in cooperation with the Specialized Information Service Asia and completes the series “Archives Direct”, from which further national licenses were acquired by the Specialized Information Service Asia.