The Silk Road: A New History

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Author: Valerie Hansen
Year: 2012
Edition: 1
Publisher: Oxford University Press
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Pages: 320
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Language: English
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ISBN: 0195159314,9780195159318
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CRC32: C9AD4CD3
SHA1: EG4TFP4PBCFPLBP3LIHE3ROPZ52CVZXW
SHA256: 98164C73B4B8FD430F5200CFD9EDB6EADBCD535BF0295451E23810ACDFFF88A7
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Contents
Acknowledgments
Note on Scholarly Conventions
Timeline
Introduction
CHAPTER 1 At the Crossroads of Central Asia: The Kingdom of Kroraina
CHAPTER 2 Gateway to the Languages of the Silk Road: Kucha and the Caves of Kizil
CHAPTER 3 Midway Between China and Iran: Turfan
CHAPTER 4 Homeland of the Sogdians, the Silk Road Traders: Samarkand and Sogdiana
CHAPTER 5 The Cosmopolitan Terminus of the Silk Road: Historic Chang’an, Modern-day Xi’an
CHAPTER 6 The Time Capsule of Silk Road History: The Dunhuang Caves
CHAPTER 7 Entryway into Xinjiang for Buddhism and Islam: Khotan
Conclusion: The History of the Overland Routes through Central Asia
Notes
Art Credits
Index

Description:

The Silk Road is as iconic in world history as the Colossus of Rhodes or the Suez Canal. But what was it, exactly? It conjures up a hazy image of a caravan of camels laden with silk on a dusty desert track, reaching from China to Rome. The reality was different--and far more interesting--as revealed in this new history.

In The Silk Road, Valerie Hansen describes the remarkable archeological finds that revolutionize our understanding of these trade routes. For centuries, key records remained hidden--sometimes deliberately buried by bureaucrats for safe keeping. But the sands of the Taklamakan Desert have revealed fascinating material, sometimes preserved by illiterate locals who recycled official documents to make insoles for shoes or garments for the dead. Hansen explores seven oases along the road, from Xi'an to Samarkand, where merchants, envoys, pilgrims, and travelers mixed in cosmopolitan communities, tolerant of religions from Buddhism to Zoroastrianism. There was no single, continuous road, but a chain of markets that traded between east and west. China and the Roman Empire had very little direct trade. China's main partners were the peoples of modern-day Iran, whose tombs in China reveal much about their Zoroastrian beliefs. Silk was not the most important good on the road; paper, invented in China before Julius Caesar was born, had a bigger impact in Europe, while metals, spices, and glass were just as important as silk. Perhaps most significant of all was the road's transmission of ideas, technologies, and artistic motifs.

The Silk Road is a fascinating story of archeological discovery, cultural transmission, and the intricate chains across Central Asia and China.

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