The Silk Road: A New History

By Valerie Hansen

The Silk street is as iconic in international background because the Colossus of Rhodes or the Suez Canal. yet what used to be it, precisely? It evokes a hazy picture of a caravan of camels encumbered with silk on a dusty wilderness song, attaining from China to Rome. the truth used to be different--and way more interesting--as published during this new history.

In The Silk Road, Valerie Hansen describes the outstanding archeological reveals that revolutionize our knowing of those alternate routes. for hundreds of years, key documents remained hidden--sometimes intentionally buried by way of bureaucrats for secure conserving. however the sands of the Taklamakan wilderness have printed interesting fabric, occasionally preserved through illiterate locals who recycled legit files to make insoles for sneakers or clothing for the useless. Hansen explores seven oases alongside the line, from Xi'an to Samarkand, the place retailers, envoys, pilgrims, and tourists jumbled in cosmopolitan groups, tolerant of religions from Buddhism to Zoroastrianism. there has been no unmarried, non-stop street, yet a series of markets that traded among east and west. China and the Roman Empire had little or no direct exchange. China's major companions have been the peoples of modern day Iran, whose tombs in China exhibit a lot approximately their Zoroastrian ideals. Silk used to be now not an important stable at the street; paper, invented in China sooner than Julius Caesar was once born, had a much bigger effect in Europe, whereas metals, spices, and glass have been simply as vital as silk. might be most vital of all used to be the road's transmission of principles, applied sciences, and inventive motifs.

The Silk Road is an engaging tale of archeological discovery, cultural transmission, and the difficult chains throughout important Asia and China.

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60 inspite of all its perils, Faxian’s sea trip used to be 3 years shorter than the outbound overland leg, which had taken him six years. within the overdue 7th century, while the Buddhist monk Yijing (635–713) traveled to India to hunt unique Buddhist texts, he additionally sailed there and again by means of send. Like Faxian, he all started his journey in Chang’an. He then traveled to the port urban of Yangzhou in modern day Jiangsu. There he met an imperial envoy who paid for his passage to Guangzhou. In Guangzhou he prepared with the captain of a “Persian send” to shuttle to Palembang at the island of Sumatra. (The send could have had a Persian team or captain, or it could actually easily were Persian widespread. ) Departing in overdue 671, the 2 males arrived in Palembang after below twenty days. Yijing describes constellations within the sky, a clue that chinese language sailors have been nonetheless navigating by means of the celebs and didn't use the compass. After six months of learning Sanskrit in Palembang, Yijing then made his manner by way of boat alongside the northern fringe of the island of Sumatra, crossed the Indian Ocean with out preventing at Sri Lanka, and arrived on the port of Tamluk, close to sleek Calcutta, early in 673, a bit of greater than a 12 months after his departure from China. Yijing took an identical path again to Palembang, the place he deliberate to stick to list extra texts. In 689 he wrote a letter to supporters in China requesting paper, ink, and cash to pay scribes to put in writing those texts. He boarded a boat in port in order that he may well mail the letter, yet “just at the moment the service provider chanced on the wind favorable, and raised the sails high,” sporting the reluctant Yijing the entire as far back as Guangzhou. sixty one The suddenness of his journey testifies to its frequency. Yijing acknowledged that he went to Guangzhou just because of the workings of karma, yet his event indicates how constructed sea trip had develop into in view that four hundred while Faxian traveled. the explicit boats that sailed from Palembang to Guangzhou stopped for no one—not even anyone who had boarded the send in blunders. On his arrival in Guangzhou, Yijing introduced his motive to come back to Palem-bang. His pals brought him to a different monk who desired to examine in India, and, within the comparable yr that he arrived, after the monsoon winds had shifted, the 2 males went again to the island to retrieve the books Yijing had left in the back of. Yijing stayed there till 695, while he eventually got here domestic to China, back by means of boat. The journey among Palembang and Guangzhou had develop into so regimen that Yijing controlled it thrice in his lifetime, and others plied the direction too. After Yijing back to China he wrote a collective biography of fifty-six priests who had traveled to India. Forty-seven have been chinese language, one used to be Sogdian, and 8 have been from the Korean country of Silla. Of the fifty-six, twenty-one traveled overland and thirty traveled by way of sea. Yijing’s pattern might exaggerate the scale of the ocean exchange, in view that he recorded the names of priests that he discovered approximately in the course of his travels at the sea course and through the months he stayed at Palembang, besides his survey indicates the recognition of sea commute within the overdue 600s.

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