The “silk roads” and central Asia history. For millennia Central Asia has been a conduit for cultural encounters and exchanges between China, India, the Middle East and Europe. This function is embodied in our image of the far distance trade caravan, traversing the vast expanses of Central Asia on the “Silk Roads” between the Chinese plains and the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. However, it were not only traders that connected the civilizations of the ancient world via Central Asia: with and next to the traders’ caravans traveled diplomats, missionaries, artists, mercenaries, and many more; and vast parts of Eurasia were, again and again, controlled and subsequently connected by confederations and empires ruled by Central Asian nomads.
The “silk roads” and central Asia
Focusing on the cultural history of Central Asia from the Bronze Age to the days of the Mongol Empire, our class inquires into many of the facets which characterize the resulting network that once span across large parts of the ancient world. To do so we will take a multi-disciplinary approach to the primary evidence at our disposal, ranging from the works of ancient historians in Greece and Han China, over medieval travel reports, to excavated business letters and other archaeological artifacts. This will familiarize students with the main methods of historical, art historical and archaeological research, enable them to analyze texts and artifacts themselves, and to understand how p
Throughout class we will read chapters from the following books: Beckwith, C. I. 2009. Empires of the Silk Road. A history of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the present. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Golden, P. B. 2011. Central Asia in world history. The new Oxford world history. New York: Oxford University Press. Hansen, V. 2012. The Silk Road. A new history. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press. There will be additional readings for specific lectures and sections. All readings will be made available to the students on NYU Classes. Note that the readings indicated below in section 6 “Classes” might be subject to change.