Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Ancient boat traces old sea route

A traditional wooden-hulled boat has recently been recreated in the Philippines. And now it has set sail on a voyage around Southeast Asia aiming to trace the roots of the "Vikings of Asia".
The boat is a faithful recreation of the "Balangay" -- a traditional wood-hulled boat used some 1,700 years ago. It set sail from Manila on Saturday.
The Balangay was the first wooden watercraft ever excavated in Southeast Asia. It's also thought to be among the oldest seafaring vessels in human history.
A crowd of 300 gathered at Manila Bay harbor to witness the historic occasion. They counted down the seconds until the vessel was launched in the water and cheered as it sailed forward.
Art Valdez, expedition leader said, "Although we built this boat here in Manila, in the Philippines it is a Southeast Asian boat. It's a regional boat. We can not totally claim that it is a Filipino boat. But it's a way again of showing what the Malayo-Polynesians or the Indo-Malays have accomplished. They were known as great ship builders and seafarers. As a matter of fact, they were the equivalent of the Vikings of Asia."
Construction of the vessel in Manila was completed in 44 days. Master boat builders from the southernmost island of Tawi-Tawi crafted the vessel using only traditional methods. Among their techniques -- using planks of hardwood, held together by natural resin from mangrove trees as well as wooden pegs and ropes made from dried tree bark. Not a single nail was said to be used.
Balangays traditionally had wooden hulls reinforced with rib-like wooden frames and palm cords. They were used as dwellings, cargo boats and war ships.
Rey Santiago, archaeologist, said, "By using this kind of watercraft, they were able to reach other places, far places, especially in Southeast Asia and exchange technology, language, other cultures and beliefs spread out in Southeast Asia through these boats."
The crew is made up of the first Filipino team to conquer Mount Everest, as well as representatives from the coast guard and navy. Meanwhile, several Badjaos, popularly known as "men of the seas" will take charge of navigation. They hope to sail around 75 ports in the Philippine archipelago before heading around Southeast Asia. And then sail as far as Madagascar off the southeast coast of Africa during their five-year long voyage.
Source: CCTV.com

Also have a look at: The Voyage Of The Balangay Starts On June 24


On the internet one can find an interesting blog about a possible link between European people and people from the Silk Road, called:


"There seems to be an interesting connection between the ancient Nordic Goths and the ancient Khotan people. The Khotans were according to different sources a melting pot of people from different cultures i.e. Ancient India (Mahajanapada, Maurya, The middle kingdoms including the Kushan empire), Persia, Greece, China, Tibet and Turkestan or Turkmenistan (before and during Kanishka). The Khotan people inhabited in an ancient kingdom present areas of Kashmir (Jammu and Kashmir) and the culture in the northern – western frontier of India before and under Vedic period India (a few hundred years before and after the Common Era). The Khotans were closely related to the Gandhara - Taxila Mahayana Buddhism of Peshawar (Read more: 1. Mahayana, 2.)."

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Dunhuang Caves by the Dunhuang Research Institute

There is an excellent site from the Dunhuang Research Institute about the Dunhuang caves.
Although the site is in Chinese all caves can be entered and viewed without specific knowledge of the language, just try !!!

Go to: www.dunhuangcaves.com

In cooperation with the Department of Art of the Northwestern University an English based website was produced.
For this site, go to: http://buddhist-art.arthistory.northwestern.edu/fraser/

Dunhuang and the Cave of Manuscripts
Dunhuang has 492 caves, with 45,000 square meters of frescos, 2, 415 painted statues and five wooden-structured caves. The Mogao Grottoes contain priceless paintings, sculptures, some 50,000 Buddhist scriptures, historical documents, textiles, and other relics that first stunned the world in the early 1900s.

The Mogao Caves, or Mogao Grottoes (also known as the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas and Dunhuang Caves) form a system of 492 temples 25 km (15.5 miles) southeast of the center of Dunhuang, an oasis strategically located at a religious and cultural crossroads on the Silk Road, in Gansu province, China. The caves contain some of the finest examples of Buddhist art spanning a period of 1,000 years. Construction of the Buddhist cave shrines began in 366 AD as places to store scriptures and art. The Mogao Caves are the best known of the Chinese Buddhist grottoes and, along with Longmen Grottoes and Yungang Grottoes, are one of the three famous ancient sculptural sites of China
According to local legend, in 366 AD a Buddhist monk, Le Zun , had a vision of a thousand Buddhas and inspired the excavation of the caves he envisioned. The number of temples eventually grew to more than a thousand. As Buddhist monks valued austerity in life, they sought retreat in remote caves to further their quest for enlightenment. From the 4th until the 14th century, Buddhist monks at Dunhuang collected scriptures from the west while many pilgrims passing through the area painted murals inside the caves. The cave paintings and architecture served as aids to meditation, as visual representations of the quest for enlightenment, as mnemonic devices, and as teaching tools to inform illiterate Chinese about Buddhist beliefs and stories. The murals cover 450,000 square feet. The caves were walled off sometime after the 11th century after they had become a repository for venerable, damaged and used manuscripts and hallowed paraphernalia.
In the early 1900s, a Chinese Taoist named Wang Yuanlu appointed himself guardian of some of these temples. Wang discovered a walled up area behind one side of a corridor leading to a main cave. Behind the wall was a small cave stuffed with an enormous hoard of manuscripts dating from 406 to 1002 AD. These included old hemp paper scrolls in Chinese and many other languages, paintings on hemp, silk or paper, numerous damaged figurines of Buddhas, and other Buddhist paraphernalia.
The subject matter in the scrolls covers diverse material. Along with the expected Buddhist canonical works are original commentaries, apocryphal works, workbooks, books of prayers, Confucian works, Taoist works, Nestorian Christian works, works from the Chinese government, administrative documents, anthologies, glossaries, dictionaries, and calligraphic exercises. Wang sold the majority of them to Aurel Stein for the paltry sum of 220 pounds, a deed which made him notorious to this day in the minds of many Chinese.
Rumors of this discovery brought several European expeditions to the area by 1910. These included a joint British/Indian group led by Aurel Stein (who took hundreds of copies of the Diamond Sutra because he was unable to read Chinese), a French expedition under Paul Pelliot, a Japanese expedition under Otani Kozui which arrived after the Chinese government's forces[clarification needed] and a Russian expedition under Sergei F. Oldenburg which found the least.
Pelloit was interested in the more unusual and exotic of Wang's manuscripts such as those dealing with the administration and financing of the monastery and associated lay men's groups. These manuscripts survived only because they formed a type of palimpsest in which the Buddhist texts (the target of the preservation effort) were written on the opposite side of the paper. The remaining Chinese manuscripts were sent to Peking (Beijing) at the order of the Chinese government. Wang embarked on an ambitious refurbishment of the temples, funded in part by solicited donations from neighboring towns and in part by donations from Stein and Pelliot. The image of the Chinese astronomy Dunhuang map is one of the many important artifact found on the scrolls.
Today, the site is the subject of an ongoing archaeological project. The Mogao Caves became one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1987.

Source: Mogao Caves Wikipedia

Friday, 26 June 2009

Mongolian Princes in Urga, 1922

Found on www.mongolianculture.com a photograph of Mongolian princes in Urga in 1922 probably made by R.C.Andrews.
Roy Chapman Andrews was an explorer and naturalist who eventually became director of the American Museum of Natural History.
He is primarily known for leading a series of expeditions from 1922 to 1930 through the fragmented China of the early 20th century into the Gobi Desert and Mongolia. The expeditions made important discoveries and brought the first-known fossil dinosaur eggs to the museum.

Fantastic to be able to look back 87 yeats into a long gone era.
Click on the photo to enlarge it !!!

Database for Buddhist Cave Temples in China

Published on June 9, 2009 in The Digital Silk Road Project:

A database on representative Buddhist caves in China, namely :

Dunhuang Mogao Caves,

Bezeklik Caves,

Kizil Caves, is released.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Digital Turfan Archive

Since the IDP Project less relevant but at the German site "Turfanforschung Digitales Turfan-Archiv" one has access to an impressive number of "Mitteliranische, Soghdische, Chinesische, Chinesisch- Uigurische, Baktrische, Khotansakische, Mongolischen, Neupersischer, Mittelpersischer, Tumshukasiche und Uigurische" texts.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009


www.mongoliancoins.com is a website by N.Nyamaa about Mongolian coins and banknotes of all time.
Next to the website there is a book, called " Coins of Mongol Empire & Clan Tamgha of Khans" which can be ordered via this site.

Following is copied the introduction to the website:

In 1206 the Great Khurultai of all Mongol Lords was held at the start of the Onon river to unite Mongol provinces and small tribes into one nation of Mongol Statehood.
At this Khuraltai Temujin was declared as the Great Khagan of Mongols and given the name of Chinggis Khan.

2006 celebrates the 800-th anniversary of the declaration of Mongol Empire. I’ve been working on a website of Mongolian coins and paper banknotes of all times and targeted its release to this commemorative date.

The term Numismatic does not only relate to a small group of people with a hobby to collect coins and banknotes but it also refers to the history, politics, economy, language and culture, and even science of any given country. It is a much broader subject than a lot of people seem to think.

That is why so much time, attention and effort are invested in to this subject. The importance of Numismatic has earned it the status of a separate subject of science to study. In many countries the coins and banknotes of the past are stored in museums and treasured as national historic items.

On my website the coins and banknotes are divided into two main categories: ancient and contemporary.

Among the ancient historical valuables a special emphasis should be made to the coins and banknotes of XIII-XIV centuries. These coins and banknotes are unique in their shape and style, they have specific writings minted on them and they were used throughout the vast lands.

Undoubtfully, they cover a lot of world history of their own time and hence are subjects of interest to many numismatics and historians alike. Hundreds of publications worldwide are devoted to the research of these coins and banknotes.

Several valuables of Mongolian Numismatics can be found in museums of Russia, China, England, Germany, USA, Taiwan, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Armenia, Turkey and other countries. For example, Yapi Kredi Bank of Turkey and El Khalifa Bank of Saudi Arabia have a treasure collection of beautiful and rare coins of Mongol Empire.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

China to excavate cabins on 800-year-old recovered merchant wreck

Read on WWW.CHINAVIEW.COM the latest news about the excavation of a marine ship from the Sung Dynasty (??)
Further two more articles from January 2008 ( more vessels, located in the Grand Canal in China) and November 2007 (has to do with the same ship as the first article).

China to excavate cabins on 800-year-old recovered merchant wreck

GUANGZHOU, June 21 (Xinhua) -- Chinese archaeologists have won permission to start an "excavation" into the cabins of the 800-year-old shipwrecked merchant vessel Nanhai No. 1, the local government said Sunday.
The municipal government of Yangjiang, Guangdong Province, where the Nanhai No.1 boat has been preserved since it was hoisted from a depth of 30 meters below the South China Sea at the end of 2007, won permission from the State Administration of Cultural Heritage in May for the "excavation", Feng Shaowen, director with the municipal publicity bureau, told Xinhua.

The 30-meter-long vessel ship has been soaked in a sealed pool in the "Crystal Palace" at the Marine Silk Road Museum in Yangjiang. The glass pool - 64 meters long, 40 meters wide, 23 meters high and about 12 meters in depth - was filled with sea water and silt to replicate the water temperature, pressure and other environmental conditions of the seabed where the vessel had lain for centuries.
The details of the excavation have not been released so far but it could last three to five years.
Construction of the Marine Silk Road Museum began in early 2006,costing 170 million yuan (24.9 million U.S. dollars).
Discovered in mid 1987 off the coast near Yangjiang, Nanhai No.1 was recognized as one of the oldest and biggest merchant boats sunk in Chinese waters.
Archaeologists have already recovered more than 4,000 artifacts including gold, silver and porcelain, as well as about 6,000 copper coins from the Song Dynasty (960-1279) boat.
Among the 1,000 delicate porcelain wares, many were made by handicraftsmen to feature foreign porcelain patterns and styles, said Feng.
The well-preserved vessel might confirm the existence of an ancient maritime trade route linking China and the West.
As early as 2,000 years ago, ancient Chinese traders began taking china, silk and cloth textiles and other commodities to foreign countries along the trading route. It started from ports at today's Guangdong and Fujian provinces to countries in southeast Asia, Africa and Europe.
The 'Marine Silk Road', like the ancient Silk Road that connected China with south, west and central Asia and Europe, was also a bridge for connecting Eastern and Western cultures, but evidence for the existence of the route is rare, said Huang Zongwei, professor with the Guangdong-based Sun Yat-Sen University.

January 03, 2008
Treasures down with ships continue to dazzle

Believe it or not, archeologists have located the sites of 2,000 ships that sank in China's territorial waters during the heyday of its marine trade.
China was a major maritime power between the 10th and 16th centuries, and the great exploits of Zheng He give an idea of Ming Dynasty's (1368-1644) might on the sea.
The 2,000 wreckages won't be the last to be found, because State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH) Director Shan Jixiang says many more are waiting to be located.
Archeologists and other experts are now trying to find the sunken treasures in the Grand Canal, and their number can be "big", Shan says.
Work on the 1,700-km-long canal linking Beijing with Hangzhou began in the 5th century BC. So deft were the engineers of the times, and so farsighted was their vision that the canal is in use even today.
The discovery of the Song Dynasty (960-1279) ship Nanhai-I, which was finally hauled from South China Sea on Saturday, prompted the government to draft a plan to protect its relics lying under water, Shan says. In fact, the work on the plan has already begun.
The discoveries have created the need for regulations and actions, too. "Now that everyone has realized the value of the cultural relics lying under water, it has become all the more urgent to keep thieves and smugglers away from them."
If the country wants to better protect these priceless objects, it has to join the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage, says Zhang Wei, director of National Museum of China's underwater archaeological center.
China has just two instruments to protect its underwater heritage: the Cultural Heritage Protection Law, promulgated in 1981 and amended in 2003, and the Regulation on the Protection of Underwater Heritage, announced by the State Council in 1989.
Most of the relics looted from the seas and rivers often make their way abroad, and smugglers have been particularly rampant over the last two years, Shan says.
Art collectors and dealers across the world have become especially interested in China's underwater heritage since 2005, when about 15,000 relics, mainly 300-year-old blue-and-white porcelain, were found on a 13.5-m sunken ship off the coast of Fujian Province.

November 29, 2007
China to house shipwreck in underwater museum

China is building a giant underwater museum to preserve and exhibit an ancient shipwreck. The museum, the first of its kind in the world, is to contain a sunken ship more than 800 years old and its treasures.
Archaeologists say the ship is China’s most exciting underwater excavation. Named the Southern Sea Number One, it lies under 24 metres of water and two metres of sand and soil.
Archaeologists took more than 6,000 treasures from one small room on the ship in 2002. The Guangdong provincial government has now allocated £10 million to building a five hall underwater museum to preserve the wreck.
“We’ve estimated the ship to contain a total of 60,000 to 80,000 pieces of treasure,” says Wei Jun, director of the Guangdong Province Underwater Archeology Institute.
“Since the ship and its treasures have become accustomed to being underwater, it’s better to keep them there.” Experts say the ship may break up if it is exposed to air so they plan to put it into a 5,000 tonne steel container and then transport it into into the underwater museum. Construction work on the museum is well underway and it is expected to open to the public by the middle of next year.

More information about the Nanhai 1 at www.china.org

Friday, 19 June 2009

Intact fresco found in Hebei

Intact fresco found in Hebei

Chinese archeologists working in North China's Hebei Province recently discovered an ancient mural at a local temple in Weixian County. The relic is thought to be the most well preserved fresco unearthed in recent years.
The mural has been kept intact. Archeologists say the drawing of the fresco began in the Qianlong era of the Qing Dynasty. The art work is comprised of 64 pieces, and are scattered around the four sides of the temple. It gives a detailed depiction of the booming and busy Qing artisans at work in various industries, as well as the vivid social life of Weixian County some hundreds of years ago. The painting is regarded as the Qing Dynasty counterpart to "Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival", a famous painting by Zhang Zeduan, who lived in the late Northern Song Dynasty.
Archeologists say the discovery in Weixian County is of great historical significance and aesthetic value.
Source: CCTV.com

Watch video

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

More news about the Terra Cotta Warriors

Play Video

The third excavation of Terra Cotta begins
More digging to begin for Terra Cotta Warriors

The much anticipated third excavation of the Terra Cotta Warriors site in northwest China's Shaanxi Province kicked off Sunday. As the excavation continues, a team of Chinese archaeologists are now working hard on reinforcing the color paintings, unearthed on June the 13th.

Apart from the work of cleaning up the Number One pit where some warriors and clay horses were excavated, archeologists are also working on maintaining a proper humidity to protect the paint that has unearthed so its color does not fade. The team of archeologists say they will do their best to protect the relics so they are not damaged by exposure to air.

So far, eight color warriors have been successfully kept intact. A terra cotta warrior stands out among the eight for its distinguished face color---green.

Play Video

Zhou Tie, chief engineer of Terra Cotta Museum said, "We have a variety of gadgets to protect the unearthed clay figures. Because the painted colors on relics easily disintegrate and peel off once they are unearthed, we need to keep their humidity at a proper level. This is the first step in protecting them."
Tourists from near and far are welcomed to visit the museum while the excavation work is on.
A tourist said, "I wish I could see something marvelous and I wish I could see the color warriors!"
In the face of the growing enthusiasm among the public, archeologists say the excavation is a long process. It takes time to unearth the relics carefully, removing them one at a time.
Source: CCTV.com

The Khan's Lost Fleet in Vietnam

In the latest issue of Archeology (July/August 2009) will appear an article from Heather Pringle ( writer a.o. of The Mummy Congress) about the attempt to invade Vietnam by Khubilai Khan, Mongol Great Khan and Emperor of China at the end of the 13th Century.

Diving into History: The Khan's Lost Fleet by Heather Pringle

The Khan's Lost Fleet
Bach Dang River, Vietnam

In A.D. 1287, China's great Mongol emperor Khubilai Khan received word that his navy had been crushed in Vietnam. Nearly 400 of the emperor's prized ships, part of a massive invasion force, had become trapped in the Bach Dang River, where Vietnamese soldiers set them afire with flaming arrows and burning bamboo rafts. In later years, the leader of the Vietnamese forces, Tran Hung Dao, boasted of his effortless victory. "When the enemy advances roaring like fire and wind," he observed, "it is easy to overcome them."

But how, exactly, did Tran Hung Dao and his forces defeat the great armada? With the Vietnam Institute of Archaeology, nautical archaeologists Randall Sasaki at Texas A&M University and Jun Kimura of Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, are now searching for new clues to explain the momentous victory. According to texts from the period, Vietnamese forces cut down hundreds of trees, sharpened their ends, and placed them in a "stakeyard" across the Bach Dang River. Then, small Vietnamese ships lured Khubilai Khan's fleet into the area just before the tides turned. As the water ebbed, long lines of stakes emerged several feet out of the water, barricading the river and preventing escape.

Sasaki and Kimura are mapping all surviving remnants of the stakeyard. Their studies show that the Vietnamese forces made clever use of islands and other natural obstacles to create part of the barrier. And today, at least some of the stakeyard lies in local rice paddies. "The preservation is really good under the mud in the rice fields," notes Sasaki. "If we could find a ship, it would be wonderful."
Heather Pringle

Monday, 15 June 2009

Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire

Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire
by William Honeychurch (Author), William Fitzhugh (Editor), Morris Rossabi (Editor)

About the Book
His fame notwithstanding, Genghis Khan is widely mistaken to have been a barbarian. Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire presents a startling new view of Genghis as the world’s greatest civilizer, emphasizing his achievements in popularizing literacy and the printed word, the creation of the mail system, freedom of religion and culture, meritocracy, tax relief, ecological conservation, and even the wearing of pants. Genghis Khan’s profound influence on the very shape of the modern world and the aspirations of its societies is as stunning a revelation as is the craftsmanship and range of the artifacts of his reign. He was an historic figure of singular importance in Mongolia and much of China. Recent highly publicized studies indicate that one-quarter of the world’s population may carry Genghis Khan genes.

Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire, the most accessible and lavishly illustrated scholarly work on the world’s greatest conqueror—and one of its greatest statesmen—will be published coincident with the opening of a blockbuster international exhibition. Showcasing the most complete collection of artifacts related to Genghis Khan ever mounted, the exhibition is estimated to attract 10 million visitors during its five-year tour of science and natural history museums in North America. The exhibit and book will unveil internationally newsworthy archaeological discoveries, including the mummified remains of the thirteenth-century murder victims, found with nooses still attached. An IMAX film, National Geographic children’s book, television documentary, and national and regional publicity campaigns budgeted at $1.8 million will accompany the exhibition.

Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire, a 352-page large-format volume, is a landmark achievement in the study of the famed but little understood conqueror, an historic figure who has attained mythic stature but a tainted reputation because he is known primarily from histories written by those he conquered rather than those he led. More than 400 color photographs of landscapes and artifacts illustrate 30 concise and informative essays and two dozen sidebar stories on significant characters and events in the development of the Khan’s Empire.

Smithsonian anthropologist William Fitzhugh, who has studied Mongolia as an aspect of arctic cultures, is the lead editor, assisted by his Smithsonian colleague William Honeychurch who also lectures at Yale University, and Columbia University historian Morris Rossabi, the acknowledged world expert on Kublai Khan, Genghis’s grandson and founder of China’s Yuan dynasty. Its authors are leading archaeologists, anthropologists, historians, and art historians worldwide, including Mongolian, Chinese, German, Turkish, and Japanese authorities. Their essays reveal new details about Genghis’ dramatic life and the spectacular development of his empire, while examining the geography and history of pre-Genghis Mongolia and the results of recent excavations of his world of the twelfth to fourteenth centuries. His legacy of effective military tactics and cultural innovations is treated comprehensively, along with the decline of his empire. Full-color images of important artifacts, maps, historical photographs, and magnificent scenic images by prize-winning photographers complement this encyclopedic treatment of Genghis’s consolidation of Mongolian peoples and subsequent empire.

Genghis Khan’s life, his military and diplomatic tactics, and the recent searches for his mysterious burial site, are the subject of five documentaries (Discovery Channel, History Channel, and a five-part BBC series). Jack Weatherford’s best-selling (but not illustrated) book Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World has revealed the international interest in this iconic figure. A major movie, a serial in one of Japan’s leading newspapers and 26 books published in Japan in this past year profile Genghis Khan.

In the 1990s Genghis’s magnetic name attracted large audiences to twenty major U.S. venues to view scholarly exhibitions with different themes: the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History focused on archaeological evidence of regional cultures up to and including Genghis Khan; the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco looked at the legacy of Buddhism in the material culture of Mongolia; the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art jointly presented a survey of artistic production and influence across the far-flung empire. A 100,000 square foot exhibition organized by the Kunst-un Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepulik Deutschland, Bonn, German, toured major museums in Bonn, Munich, Niederosterreich and Turkey over the last two years and is now scheduled through September 2nd, 2007 at the Hungarian National Museum in Budapest, Hungary.

But public interest in the worldwide legacy of Genghis Khan has not yet been sated, and the treasure trove of artifacts has barely been opened. Many of the most telling objects pertaining to Genghis Khan and his thirteenth-century heirs—who expanded his empire to Persia, Russia, and India in the West and China, Manchuria, and Korea in the East—are illustrated for the first time in Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire, which draws on the wealth of knowledge published by its contributors, including Dr. Rossabi’s Kubilai Khan: His Life and Times (University of California Press), and work by David Morgan. In its scope, accessibility, and illustrative content the present volume is far more than just a book about Genghis Khan; Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire sets this remarkable era of world history in broad context for the first time for the English-reading world.

Daily Life in the Mongol Empire

Daily Life in the Mongol Empire
George Lane

'This book could readily serve as a basic history course text owing to its introductory and explanatory character. However, it differs from other general, introductory history texts for two important reasons. First, it covers topics related to daily life and the social and cultural history of the Mongols while intentionally avoiding descriptive factual and narrative history for which there are many other books. Second, it is a general history book, but one which uses primary source material throughout. It introduces students to the importance of primary sources and stresses how these early texts provide the evidence and foundations for all the words, ideas, and thoughts which make up traditional history books. The excellent biographies, including one listing many of the translated primary source materials, ensure that this book will be an essential component in any library of the Mongol Empire' - "Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies".

The Mongols in the Making of Europe, 1220-1500

The Mongols in the Making of Europe, 1220-1500
Ann Fielding

ISBN 978-1-905246-76-2 - 256pp. Illus - Case
June 2009 - £60.00

This is the first study to examine the effect the Mogols had on Western imagination and the world beyond Christendom. It focuses on images and texts that have been hidden in plain sight for centuries.

In the early thirteenth century, the Mongols who were causing turmoil throughout the known world, were perceived as an Other that Westerners could neither dominate, nor pretend to understand, a people who existed outside maps and who introduced unpredictability into a scripted history that ran direct to the Apocalypse.
Amongst the illustrations featured are Tuscan paintings in which Mongols witness the Crucifixion and hold the horses for the Magi. New light is also brought to bear on some of the great literature of the period as to why Ghenghis Khan is romanticised, such as by Chaucer in his Canterbury Tales. It also discusses why some Westerners linked themselves directly to the Mongols, such as Edward III of England who paraded across London dressed as the Great Khan.

"Caves of a Thousand Buddhas" under repair

The travel of Zhang Qian to the West, Mogao caves, 618-712 AD

BEIJING, June 9, 2009 -- A thousand-year-old cultural site "Caves of a Thousand Buddhas", near the city of Turpan in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is undergoing restoration work. The project is scheduled to be completed by June next year.

Many parts of the Buddha Caves had been threatened by collapse. The thousand-year-old relic site encompasses 83 caves that house Buddha sculptures and murals. The restoration project is costing 11.4 million yuan, or 1.6 million U.S. dollars.

It's the largest renovation of the site since l949 when the People's Republic of China was founded. A new wooden road will be built and be connected with the old one, meaning more caves will be open to visitors after the restoration is completed.
(Source: CCTV.com)

To learn more about these caves don't forget to visit the Online Tour from the Brtish Museum about the "Caves of the Thousand Buddhas".

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Lost Kingdoms

One of the reasons that I write this blog and do all the postings is my fascination for history.
Just the thought that so many kingdoms and states have existed and have vanished with so many of whom we have seldom heard.
It than surprises me that while I have a better than average knowledge of old and disappeared kingdoms and states, my knowledge of those at present is not what it should be.
While playing the next game " WorldMap ", my average score of the first two tries was around 50 ( mainly because my poor knowledge of Africa).
I'am interested to hear about your first score !!!!

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Silkroad--China backs joint bid to award World Cultural Heritage status

Photo: Xinhua

Read in the Global Times of June 9, 2009

China is backing a unique multinational bid to add the famous Silk Road to the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List.

Along with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, Chinese officials will submit the first-ever joint “cultural route” request to UNESCO for special status in 2011.
“A multinational application is the better choice if we want to aptly present the historical culture of the ancient Silk Road for such status,” said Jing Feng, an official with the UNESCO World Heritage Center's Asia- Pacific Region Program.
If the unprecedented six-nation bid is successful, the 2000-year-old famous trade route will be afforded the same global protection as other world famous cultural sites, including the Great Wall, the Giza Pyramids in Egypt and Stonehenge in the United Kingdom.
“The Silk Road has had a great influence in the world, and China is the starting and end point and with destinations worldwide. It is a good choice for China to unite with other Silk Road countries to jointly apply for World Cultural Heritage status,” said Qiao Ran, vice director of The Silk Road Team from the National Tourism Administration of The People's Republic of China.
Once a major trade arteries linking Asia and Europe, the 6,500-kilometer Silk Routes – known collectively as the “Silk Road” – extended from the Chinese city of Xi'an in northwest Shaanxi Province to Europe via south and central Asia countries.
Along them traveled luxury goods, technologies, slaves, rare foods and plants, ideas, cultures and diseases.

Chinese officials and culture experts have selected an initial list of 48 historical sites along the country's section of the Silk Road for the joint application temples, burial sites and remains of ancient cities.
'The Silk Road in China spans thousands of kilometers and links 5000-year history of Chinese civilization. It is full of Chinese culture,” said Shan Jixiang, president of China State Administration of Cultural Heritage.
“We have been preparing to apply for several years, and the conditions are now right to start the process,” said Yang Lian, an archeologist with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

China is also applying to UNESCO to include an old sea-going trade route that once hugged its shores for similar status.
Some claim the so-called “Silk Road on the Sea” is older than its overland namesake, following the discovery of shipwrecks and other finds in recent decades.
The recovery of the Nanhai 1 in late 2007 in South China Sea – a Song Dynasty wreck that had been buried underwater for 800 years – initiated the recent application.
The ship is believed to have plied the navigation, which began in southern China and hugged the coast of Indochina, passed through the Strait of Malacca where it entered the Indian Ocean and navigated the coast to the Persian Gulf
Guangdong Province in Southern China has earmarked 150 million yuan ($ 20.3 million) to build a Maritime Silk Road Museum – to be opened this year – to preserve the salvaged ship.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

China starts with 3rd excavation Terracotta Army Site

The following article is from www.chinaview

XI'AN, June 9 (Xinhua) -- Chinese archaeologists will begin the third excavation of the famous terracotta army site on Saturday June 13, 2009, hoping to find more clay figures and unravel some of the mysteries left behind by the "First Emperor".
Archaeologists hoped they might find a clay figure that appeared to be "in command" of the huge underground army, said Liu Zhancheng, head of the archeological team under the terracotta museum in Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi Province.
"We're hoping to find a clay figure that represented a high-ranking army officer, for example," he told Xinhua Tuesday.
Liu and his colleagues are also hoping to ascertain the success of decades of preservation efforts to keep the undiscovered terracotta figures intact and retain their original colors.
Richly colored clay figures were unearthed from the mausoleum of Qinshihuang, the first emperor of a united China, in previous excavations, but once they were exposed to the air they began to lose their luster and turn an oxidized grey.
The upcoming excavation into the first and largest of the three pits at the site would last at least a year, said Wu Yongqi, curator of the museum.

The 230 by 62-meter pit was believed to contain about 6,000 life-sized terracotta figures, more than 1,000 of which were found in previous excavations, said Wu.
The State Administration of Cultural Heritage has approved the museum's dig of 200 square meters of the site, and the excavation is likely to continue if it proves fruitful.
Most experts believe the pit houses a rectangular army of archers, infantrymen and charioteers that the emperor hoped would help him rule in the afterlife.
But Liu Jiusheng, a Chinese historian in Xi'an, claims it was an army of servants and bodyguards rather than warriors. His argument is still not widely accepted by other terracotta experts.
The army is still known to most Chinese people as the "terracotta warriors and horses".

The army was one of the greatest archeological finds of modern times. It was discovered in Lintong county, 35 km east of Xi'an, in 1974 by peasants who were digging a well.
The first formal excavation of the site lasted for six years from 1978 to 1984 and produced 1,087 clay figures. A second excavation, in 1985, lasted a year and was cut short for technical reasons.
The discovery, listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO in December 1987, has turned Xi'an into one of China's major tourist attractions.

Monday, 8 June 2009

In the Footsteps of Marco Polo

IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF MARCO POLO, premiering on public television last November 2008 , chronicles the journey of two ordinary guys – Belliveau, at the time a wedding photographer, and O’Donnell, an artist and former Marine – as they set out to follow Polo’s historic route.

Equal parts travelogue, adventure story, history trek and buddy movie, the 90-minute film weaves footage from the duo’s often perilous voyage with Marco Polo’s descriptions and experiences.
Richly enhanced with Belliveau’s award-winning photographs, the program details their highs and lows as they retrace Polo’s path, trying to see what he saw and feel what he must have felt.

IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF MARCO POLO captures the pair as they survive a deadly firefight and befriend a warlord in Afghanistan, cross the forbidding Taklamakan Desert in a Silk Road camel caravan, endure continuous interrogations from authorities, and live among cultures ranging from the expert horsemen of Mongolia to the tattooed tribes of Indonesia.

“We made a pact,” says O’Donnell, “that, under any conditions, no matter what, we were only coming back to the United States two ways – either dead or successful.”
In the spirit of history’s great adventurers, the two make their way across the world’s largest land mass and back, securing – or, when necessary, forging – visas, surviving extreme temperatures, and talking their way out of jams brought on by Tajik soldiers, Chinese security officers, and an assortment of other bureaucrats, border guards and armed warriors.
“We made it the 13th century in our heads,” said Belliveau. “What was this like for Marco? How would it have been for him? We were going to try to make this whole journey like we were living in Marco Polo’s world.” Without the assistance of air travel, they made their way on foot, horseback, camelback, in jeeps, trucks, boats and trains.
But as fascinating as the world looked through Marco Polo’s eyes, is the world and the people Belliveau and O’Donnell saw through their own. “Travel is the enemy of bigotry,” says O’Donnell. “There’s a lot more good people on the planet than bad…Get out there, meet [people], they’re good,” adds Belliveau.

"It was the best-documented journey of its time, inspiring the imaginations and ambitions of countless adventurers, including Christopher Columbus. Now we, too, can follow in the footsteps of Marco Polo, with guides as vividly exciting and engaging as Marco himself. With both their film and this book Denis and Francis have recreated what Joseph Campbell would have applauded as 'The Hero's Journey.' Come take it yourself and you'll never turn back."
Bill Moyers

Monday, 1 June 2009

Rare portrait of Genghis Khan discovered in 2006 in north China temple

This "old" news I found on the site "Mongolian Matters - News from Mongolia".
Beijing, Aug 24: A rare Thangka portrait of legendary Mongol leader Genghis Khan has been discovered in a Tibetan Buddhist temple in north China`s inner Mongolia autonomous region, a local cultural heritage official announced.

The painting was drawn by a Late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) Mongolian artist, probably in the nineteenth century, Wang Dafang, an official with the Cultural Heritage Bureau of Inner Mongolia said.

The portrait is painted on a piece of cloth 28.5 cm long and 21 cm wide. The painting shows Genghis Khan in martial attire, riding a white horse and holding a banner in his right hand, with a bow and a quiver of arrows on his back, according to Wang.

Thangka is a Tibetan art form that dates back 1,000 years and which mainly depicts images from Tibetan Buddhism, Wang was quoted as saying by a newsagency."

To put this "old" news more in perspective, the following item is from Welcome2mongolia.com:

More about portraits of Chingis Khan

There are almost no portraits of Genghis Khan,of the ones that exist it is impossible to tell if it is really his likeness. Some researchers consider that his image was either middle Asian or European. In 1368, the Mongols,who were excluded from the Yuan dynasty Capital City, did not take many things because they believed the invading force was returning soon. The Chinese ruined and destroyed the cities including monasteries, houses, buildings, art and books. When the Mongols moved on, the Chinese felt they should destroy their culture .
Still 20th century researchers did know that the rare monuments and papers including Genghis Khan’s portrait, those that remained from the Mongol movement, were hidden by Chinese lords.
Mongolian cultures and arts were ruined during the many battles. In 1924, Chinese marshal Fen Yui Syan conquered Beijing by expelling Manchu Khan Pu Ei. In his house were over 500 pictures including portraits of 8 Mongolian khans and 7 queens. Also there were other treasures connected to the Mongol and Yuan State. New findings have suggested that there was indeed an original picture of Genghis. Mongolian painter, Khar Khasun painted the original portrait in 1287. In the portrait his image was drawn as a man of tall body, the hair on his face scanty and white, with black eyes, brown face, and possessed with great energy.

The only existing portrait preserved until today was painted in 1278, almost a half a century after his death. Khubilai Khan, the grandson of Genghis Khan, ordered artist Khorisun to paint the portrait, and asked some of Genghis Khan’s few remaining trusted men to overlook the painting and make sure it reflects the true image.