Our journal is dedicated to public education about the history and cultures of Eurasia, especially in pre-modern times. While we invoke the historic "Silk Road" in our title, our view of the Silk Roads is an expansive one, encompassing pre-history, the era beginning with the establishment of trans-Eurasian trade and cultural interaction some two millennia ago, and the subsequent history of those interactions down through the centuries. Modern evocations of cultural traditions are of interest, especially in the areas which historically have been the domain of pastoral nomads. We publish articles by well known scholars and those who have other expertise on the regions and material of interest. Where possible we are communicating the results of the latest research, including new archaeological investigations. The journal also serves as the means to alert readers about upcoming programs connected with Silk Road topics.
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Journal editor: Daniel C. Waugh
Volume 10 2012
This volume of The Silk Road opens with a reconsideration of the meaning of chariot and cart imagery in the rock art of the Mongolian Altai and more broadly across northern Central Asia. The following article on the inclusion of cart parts in Xiongnu tombs reinforces the conclusions regarding the petroglyphs, and another article on the Xiongnu period analyzes the costume of those depicted on recently discovered textiles. There are two essays on the recent results of the Mongolian-German surveys near the Mongol Empire capital of Karakorum. The next article contains translations of important Bactrian inscriptions. Then there is a careful explication of the inspiration for the building of Tamerlane's great Bibi Khanum mosque in Samarqand. This month's museum feature highlights the new Islamic galleries at the Louvre. A sequel to an an article published here several years ago is the description of the Töwkhön monastery in Mongolia, which has become an important pilgrimage site. Chinese reactions to foreign archaeologists in the early 20th century are explored in the following article. And lastly there are two essays dealing with different aspects of ecology, one discussing agriculture in Mongolia and the other the threats to the rivers of the Ganga basin in northern India. Several review essays analyze recent publications; there are also shorter reviews and a good many book notices.
Volume 9 2011Volume 7 Autumn 2009
This volume of The Silk Road opens with a study of the Brunei shipwreck, placing it in the wider context of maritime trade in Southeast Asia around 1500 CE. There are two articles dealing with images of Sogdian funerary practices, one based on materials found in China, the other on a vase found in Central Asia. A first for the journal, we have a report on a recent archaeological excavation in Iran, at a Parthian site. There is a photo essay on the Liao period Chaoyang Northern Pagoda, followed by an overview of the interesting collections of the Azerbaijan Museum in Tabriz. As the next article suggests, progress has been made in Afghanistan to restore and create museums, in the face of the ongoing difficult situation there. The “Wall of Chingis Khan” in Eastern Transbaikalia has long been a subject of speculation; here we learn about its Liao Dynasty origins, as demonstrated by recent archaeological surveys. One of the largest Xiongnu cemetaries is mapped in the next article. A long section of reviews begins with a review essay on a study of textiles and costume among the Pazyryk nomads of the Altai.Volume 8 2010
This issue of The Silk Road, the first as an annual volume, includes an interesting report on excavations of Uighur mausolea in Mongolia. The hydraulic systems of the Turfan Oasis are the subject of the next article, where particular attention is given to the qanat system of underground channels. Recent excavations in western Mongolia have yielded important new evidence about the bows and arrows used by the nomadic Xiongnu some 2000 years ago. Beginning in the late 19th century, Khotan became a center of the trade in Central Asian antiquities, the subject of the following article which explores new evidence relating in particular to one of the key figures in that trade, Badruddin Khan, and describes material collected by the British Consul in Xinjiang, C. P. Skrine. The remainder of this volume is of bibliographic value, beginning with a long article reviewing work on settlement archaeology in "Greater Mongolia," following which are several book notices. As a bonus, this volume contains a photographic essay highlighting treasures from the National Museum in Tehran.
In this issue of The Silk Road learn about some of the latest excavations of Xiongnu sites in Mongolia. Preview a forthcoming book project cataloguing the important collection of Xiongnu artifacts in the State Hermitage Museum (St. Petersburg), the articles here re-assessing the evidence for the dating of the famous Noyon uul cemetery. Included are some of the best available photographs of the Chinese lacqerware cups from Noyon uul. Read a new interpretation of evidence for the biography of one of the Sogdians who worked in 6th-century China. As in earlier issues, we continue to publish on Buddhism in Mongolia, the articles in this issue reporting results of a project to document its recent past and prospects for future development. Finally, travel across the mountain passes through the great ranges in the heart of Asia, following the historic Silk Roads.Volume 6 Number 2 Winter/Spring 2009
In this issue of The Silk Road learn about the intriguing connections between Korea and the Silk Roads. Explore the impact of Alexander the Great's conquests on the opening of exchange across Eurasia, where some of the recent textile finds from Xinjiang contain Hellenistic motifs. One of the most stunning of the Dunhuang Mogao Caves, No. 285, contains imagery which may point to patronage by local members of the Sogdian merchant elite in the 6th century CE. Paintings from a later period of Silk Road history, illustrating the "18 Songs of a Nomad Flute" embody motifs which in analogous fashion illustrate the complex cultural milieu of the times. And finally, learn about the active pilgrimage life at the many Islamic mazars (shrines) in southern Xinjiang.Volume 6 Number 1 Summer 2008
In this issue of The Silk Road learn about museums in Gansu and Xinjiang, and then read a stimulating assessment of the nature of scientific and technical exchange between the Islamic world and China. Then travel the Silk Roads in Iran. There is a report on Buddhist art from Khotan in the Hermitage Museum colletion and another about the important Buddhist site of Adjina-tepa in Tajikistan. Two essays discuss the fate of Mongolian Buddhism under Communism and its revival in the post-Communist period. This issue concludes with a stirring account of retracing the historic Tea Horse Road connecting southwest China with Tibet and India.Volume 5 Number 2 Winter 2008
In this issue of The Silk Road learn about the important Silk Road exhibition now concluding its run in Mannheim, and then read a valuable summary of new research in Eurasian Prehistory. Three reports on the productive Mongol-American Hovd archaeology project in 2007 highlight the ongoing discoveries about the nomadic Xiongnu. Read also about a spectacular achievement in Chinese marine archaeology - the raising of a Song-era shipwreck with a cargo of precious porcelain - and about the Turk Empire's relations with Byzantium. Continuing our attention to food on the Silk Roads, we conclude with an article on Kazakh foodways.Volume 5 Number 1 Summer 2007
This issue of The Silk Road features several articles on food, whose history offers interesting insights into cultural exchange across Eurasia through the centuries. The article on Georgian cuisine is a good reminder of the importance of the Caucasus in Silk Road exchange; that on Yuan-era recipes and medical knowledge emphasizes the significant transmission of Arabic and Persian knowledge to China under the Mongols. Other articles include a re-examination of Baron von Richthofen's formulation of the "Silk Road" concept, a lavishly illustrated report on the striking archaeological finds at the Xiongnu site in the Tsaraam Valley, and an overview of the historic trade routes in Eastern Anatolia.Volume 4 Number 2 Winter 2006 - 2007
This issue of The Silk Road includes information on exciting new discoveries about the early history of Afghanistan. Documents, some of them more than two millennia old, have been found; under trying conditions, the archaeology of rich sites such as Bamiyan is proceeding. Perhaps less well known is the history and archaeology of Western Tibet, where a new project is mapping historic sites including Buddhist caves with striking murals. Among our other articles are a new interpretation of the famous 'Ambassador's Painting' at Afrasiab near Samarkand and an exploration of the history of hunting hounds along the Silk Road.Volume 4 Number 1 Summer 2006
This year Mongolia celebrates the 800th anniversary of the kuriltai which marked the founding of the Mongolian Empire under its leader newly designated as Chingis Khan. Under Chingis and his successors Mongolia in the 13th century was for a time indeed at the 'center of the world.' As students of Inner Asian history know, at several earlier times in its history too, Mongolia had been the center of nomadic polities which encompassed large portions of Inner Asia and played a major role in the lives of their nomadic and sedentary neighbors. It is appropriate therefore that we devote much of this issue of The Silk Road to Mongolia.Volume 3 Number 2 December 2005
We lead off this issue with an update from Susan Whitfield, the Director of the International Dunhuang Project, which is setting the standard making available to the world historic texts and images of the Silk Road. Other articles focus on religious life at Dunhuang, money and its imitations along the Silk Road, the importance of paper for human cultural exchange, and interesting aspects of the broad cultural exchanges under the Mongols. We visit as well historic Yazd in Iran and learn about traditional healing practices in today's Kyrgyzstan.
Volume 3 Number 1 June 2005
Although the name is a modern invention, Xinjiang embraces the earliest history of exchange in and across Inner Asia. A number of the contributions to this issue focus on both the historical and contemporary issues pertaining to this important and fascinating region.
Volume 2 Number 2 December 2004
The study of the Silk Roads requires broad knowledge and various methodologies. We learn here an informed re-examination of objects in museum collections may unlock secrets of their provenance. Most of the following articles focus on the employment of new technologies to record and systematize archaeological evidence. The history of the Jews Harp surveyed in this issue reminds us that music is an important aspect of the cultural exchange across Eurasia.Volume 2 Number 1 June 2004
In this issue we begin with an exciting new project to study pre-historic pastoralists in Inner Asia, concerning whose range of nomadization fresh evidence is emerging. The trellised tent (yurt, ger) is one of the inventions of inner asian nomads which has proven its value down through the millennia. Our second article considers new evidence about its antiquity. Other contributions include an informative overview of Palmyra (Syria), one of the most important caravan cities of the ancient Near East, and an introduction to one of the trading "roads" of Inner Asia which does not always attract attention, the "tea and horse road" leading from southwest China into Tibet.Volume 1 Number 2 December 2003
Our focus in this issue is Sogdiana, the small Central Asian polity centered in the Zarafshan Valley whose merchants for so long dominated the Eurasian trade, leaving evidence from as far afield as Eastern Europe, Central China and Southeast Asia. We learn here as well about the renewal of archaeological excavations at Bamiyan in Afghanistan and about the contemporary culture of the Kazakhs and the way it connects with tradition.
Volume 1 Number 1 January 15, 2003
The Silk Road's purpose is to monitor research, exhibitions, publications, and events relating to Central Asia and the Silk Road, and to communicate this information, at no cost, in print and online. The Silk Road will include non-specialist as well as specialist articles, information on events sponsored by the Silkroad Foundation including the texts of public lectures it sponsors, reports on recent archaeological excavations, and much more.