This is the first of two collections by top scholars working on the history of the Silk Road. This collection’s main focus is the first millennium CE when the Silk Road trade was at its height. Most of the entries are organized chronologically and geographically, concentrating on the sites (like Niya and Loulan) which flourished in the third and fourth centuries, then Turfan and Samarkand (500-800), and closes with the period after 800, when Tang China withdrew its troops from the region and the local peoples reverted to a largely barter economy. Coverage ends in 1000, when the first cities on the western edge of the Taklamakan converted to Islam. Introductory texts provide general overviews of the trade (including classic pre- and post-war studies), followed by a brief survey of the ancient trade routes. Of particular interest in this collection are the Silk Road’s most famous group of travellers, the Sogdians, a people from the region of Samarkand (in today's Uzbekistan) thanks to Chinese archaeologists who have recently uncovered several tombs that allow us to see how the Sogdians gradually adjusted to Chinese culture, decorating their tombs with detailed scenes of everyday life.
Valerie Hansen is Professor of History at Yale University (since 1998). She teaches courses on Traditional China (2000 BC-AD 1600), Voyages in World History to 1500 and The Silk Road Rediscovered. Her books include
Voyages in World History (with Ken Curtis) (Wadsworth CENGAGE, 2010),
The Open Empire: A History of China to 1600 (W.W. Norton & Co., 2000),
Negotiating Daily Life in Traditional China: How Ordinary People Used Contracts, 600-1400 (YUP, 1995), and
The Silk Road: A New History (OUP, forthcoming).
Table of contents
Introduction; SECTION I: The beginnings of the Silk Road; 1. The Development of Trade Between The Roman Empire and the East Under Augustus; 2. On the Question of Silk in pre-Han Eurasia; 3. The Desert Crossing of Hsüan-Tsang, 630 A.D; 4. Land route or sea route? Commentary on the study of the paths of transmission and areas in which Buddhism was disseminated during the Han period; SECTION II: The Kushan Empire and Beyond; 5. La Vieille Route Reconsidered: Alternative Paths for Early Transmission of Buddhism Beyond the Borderlands of South Asia; 6. New Light on Ancient Afghanistan: the decipherment of Bactrian; 7. Life in Third-fourth Century Cad’ota: A Survey of Information gathered from the Prakrit documents found north of Minfeng (Niya); 8. Some Comments on Third-Century Shan-shan and the History of Buddhism; SECTION III: Kuche, Kumarajiva, and Broader Issues of Translation; 9. Perspectives in the Study of Chinese Buddhism; 10. India and China: Observations on Cultural Borrowing; 11. On the Interrelationship of the Tocharian Dialects; 12. The Position of Tocharian among the Other Indo-European Languages; SECTION IV: Samarkand and the Sogdians; 13. The Sogdian merchants in China and India; 14. The Self-Image of the Sogdians; 15. Wall Paintings from a House with a Granary. Panjikent, 1st Quarter of the Eighth Century A.D.; 16. New Work on the Sogdians, the most Important Traders on the Silk Road, A.D. 500-1000; 17. The Migrations and Settlements of the Sogdians in the Northern Dynasties, Sui and Tang; SECTION V: Turfan; 18. A Concise History of the Turfan Oasis and its Exploration; 19. The Impact of the Silk Road Trade on a Local Community: The Turfan Oasis, 500-800; 20. Women in Turfan During the Sixth to Eighth Centuries: A Look at their Activities Outside the Home; 21. Textiles et tissus sur la route de la soie: eléments pour une géographie de la production et des échanges; 22. Sasanian and Arab-Sasanian Silver Coins from Turfan: Their Relationship to International Trade and the Local Economy; 23. Money in Eastern Central Asia before AD 800; SECTION VI: Dunhuang and Khotan; 24. Multilingualism in Tun-huang; 25. Silk Road or Paper Road; 26. Tang; 27. The Khotanese in Dunhuang; 28. On the taxation system of pre-Islamic Khotan; 29. The Nature of the Dunhuang Library Cave and the Reasons for Its Sealing; Index