Introductory lecture

I. Introduction to course.

A. What is in a name? "Silk Road" or "silk roads."
B. Fuzzy boundaries.
1. Chronology-two millennia of history (ca. 3rd c. BCE to ca. 1700 CE).
2. Geography. The Mediterranean to the Pacific, the Siberian forests to the Indian Ocean.
C. Selectivity in presentation.
D. The syllabus and course requirements.

II. How do we learn and write about Silk Road history?

A. Our primary sources.
1. Written texts.
2. Archaeology.
3. Art.
B. Modern historians ("secondary" sources).
C. The art of writing well about the Silk Road.

III. Overview of Silk Road--some impressions.

A. A snapshot from the time of Marco Polo (late 13th century): from Venice to Beijing.
B. The silk roads, N to S, E to W: Moscow to Agra.
C. Nomads, city people--a symbiotic relationship.
D. Religions:
1. Buddhism.
2. Christianity.
3. Islam.
4. Others: Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, etc.