The Silk Road: A New History

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9780195159318: The Silk Road: A New History

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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Amazon.com Additional Content: Silk Road Photo Gallery (Click on Images to Enlarge)

Here is a sample of the stunning photographs of documents and art objects that appear in The Silk Road: A New History.

How the Silk Road Got Its Name

The German geographer Ferdinand von Richthofen coined the term "Silk Road" with the publication of this map in 1877. Before this date, people referred to the route as the road to Samarkand (or whatever the next major city was).

Tang Barbie

When this seventh-century Chinese beauty was on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the staff nicknamed her "Tang Barbie" because she was the same height as the children's doll and every bit as fashionable. Her arms are made from recycled paper that turned out to be important documents from a pawnshop.

Ancient Niya

Worn by the centuries, the outer layer of Niya's stupa has been stripped away, revealing the bricks underneath. Wooden documents found at this site are a treasure trove of information about life on the Silk Road in the third and fourth centuries.

Zoroastrian Art from Xi'an

This Sogdian tomb has a typical Chinese stone tomb entranceway with Zoroastrian art above the doorway. Zoroastrian imagery found in tombs like this is much more detailed and much more informative than anything that survives in the Iranian homeland of Zoroastrianism.

When Rivers Flowed Through the Taklamakan Desert

Most riverbeds in the Taklamakan Desert today are bone dry, but in 1899 the Swedish explorer Sven Hedin used this 38-foot boat to explore the waterways of the region.

Silk Road Dance Party

The swirl, introduced by the Sogdians, was performed all along the Silk Road by men and women alike and described by contemporaries as fast-paced and exciting. This painted stone panel comes from the tomb of a Sogdian headman in Xi'an who died in 579 C.E.

About the Author:


Valerie Hansen is Professor of History at Yale University. Her books include The Open Empire: A History of China to 1600, Negotiating Daily Life in Traditional China: How Ordinary People Used Contracts, 600-1400, Changing Gods in Medieval China, 1127-1276, and, with Kenneth R. Curtis, Voyages in World History. To find out more about Valerie Hansen and The Silk Road, visit her website at www.valerie-hansen.com.

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Descrizione libro Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2012. Hardback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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 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 archaeological finds that revolutionize our understanding of these trade routes. For millennia, key records remained hidden-often 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 northwest China to Samarkand, where merchants, envoys, pilgrims, and travelers mixed in cosmopolitan communities, tolerant of religions from Buddhism to Zoroastrianism. Hansen notes that 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. Hansen writes that 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 Southeast Asia. Codice libro della libreria AAU9780195159318

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Descrizione libro Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2012. Hardback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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 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 archaeological finds that revolutionize our understanding of these trade routes. For millennia, key records remained hidden-often 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 northwest China to Samarkand, where merchants, envoys, pilgrims, and travelers mixed in cosmopolitan communities, tolerant of religions from Buddhism to Zoroastrianism. Hansen notes that 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. Hansen writes that 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 Southeast Asia. Codice libro della libreria AAU9780195159318

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