Silk Road Chronology
[Note: This is based on the chronologies at the Silk Road Foundation web site http://www.silk-road.com and in David Christian, A History of Russia, Central Asia and Mongolia. Vol. I. Inner Eurasia from Prehistory to the Mongol Empire (Blackwell, 1998). Dates are BCE and CE, that is "before the Common Era" and "Common Era," which is the chronological equivalent to B. C. and A. D.]
4th millenium BCE Development of nomadic pastoralism?
3000 Silk first produced in China.
6th c. Development of Afrasiyab (the pre-Islamic city of Samarkand)
560s Birth of Buddha.
559-486 Reigns of Cyrus and Darius; the Achaemenid Empire. Includes conquest of Central Asia.
ca. 550 Birth of Zoroaster (?); Zoroastrianism spreads in Achaemenid Empire in 5th c.
329-327 Alexander the Great in Central Asia.
238-140 Greco-Bactrian kingdom in Central Asia.
238-CE 226 Parthian Empire in western Eurasia.
221-206 Qin rule in China; terracotta army at Qin tombs, Xi'an.
206- CE 220 Han dynasties in China
2nd c. Domestication of camel
139-125 Han general and ambassador Chang Ch'ien in Central Asia; Han conquest of Ferghana.
1st c. CE Silk appears in Rome.
Buddhism spreads into Central Asia.
ca. 100 Buddhism reaches China.
2nd c. Kushan Empire in N. India and Central Asia.
ca. 200-ca. 550 Knowledge of silk production spreads first to Central Asia and ultimately to Constantinople.
226-642 Sassanian Empire in western Eurasia.
4th c. First caves cut at Dunhuang.
399-413 Buddhist monk Faxian travels from China to India and back.
552-734 Turk empires in Central Asia.
618-907 T'ang dynasty.
627-643 Xuanzang travels to India and back to China.
642 Muslim armies destroy Sassanian Empire.
655 Muslim armies enter Central Asia.
750 Establishment of Abbasid Caliphate.
751 Arabs defeat Chinese at Battle of Talas (in area of modern Kyrgyzstan).
ca. 900 Ismail Samanid and Samanid dynasty in Central Asia, with capital at Bukhara.
2nd half 11th c. Seljuks extend empire through Middle East into Anatolia, taking Baghdad and defeating Byzantine armies.
1206 Temujin elected "Chingis Khan" by Mongols.
1220 Mongol invasion of Khwarezm in Central Asia
1230s Mongol capital established at Karakorum in Mongolia.
Mongol invasion of Eastern Europe.
1246-1247 Franciscan monk John of Plano Carpini travels to Mongolia.
1253 Franciscan monk William of Rubruck travels to Mongolia.
1258 Mongols destroy Abbasid caliphate and take Baghdad.
1264-1368 Yuan (Mongol) rule in China, beginning with Kubilai Khan.
1271-1295 Marco Polo's travels.
1325-1354 Ibn Battuta's travels.
1368-1644 Ming Dynasty in China.
ca. 1370-1405 Tamerlane's empire, with its capital at Samarkand.
1402-1405 Embassy of Clavijo to Tamerlane.
1490s Europeans round Cape of Good Hope and begin sea routes for trade with South and East Asia.
16th-17th c. Mughal Empire in India.
mid-19th c. Russian conquest of the Central Asian khanates.
1900 Discovery of the "secret library" of manuscripts and paintings at Dunhuang. Soon after, European explorers and scholars such as Aurel Stein and Paul Pelliot remove much of the material to London and Paris.