The Silk Road:
Materials for an e-History

Daniel C. Waugh

The purpose of this collection is to link in one place narrative pieces I have either written myself or co-authored which might serve as the basis eventually for a new survey of the history of the Silk Road. Such a survey is needed, especially one that would be accompanied by adequate illustrations. An argument can be made that the best way to accomplish such a project would be to make it available electronically on the internet. The present collection is far from "complete." Some segments--for example the Wednesday University lecture series--form of themselves a fairly coherent narrative, but do not in fact include the illustrations. Other segments were composed as separate web pages within the virtual "Art of the Silk Road" exhibit or for other sections of Silk Road Seattle. In a few instances, material used in one place appears in edited form in another. I have not linked here my various annotated bibliographic materials on Silk Road Seattle and on the Silkroad Foundation websites, nor does this selection include several longer reviews or review articles.

I. "The Silk Road Observed and Imagined," a non-credit lecture series presented in Winter 2002. "Silk Road" is shorthand for 1500 years of economic and cultural exchange across Eurasia, a subject best introduced through the eyes of its contemporary observers:

  • Lecture 1. The Origins of the Silk Road
  • Lecture 2. Xuanzang: a Buddhist pilgrim travels to India.
  • Lecture 3. The Mongols through the Eyes of Carpini and Rubruck
  • Lecture 4. Marco Polo and his impact on perceptions of the East.
  • Lecture 5. Tamerlane's Samarkand through the eyes of Clavijo.
  • II."The Silk Roads and Eurasian Geography." A brief overview of geography of Eurasia and its relationship to human settlement and movement, with some photo gallery images of the landscapes in various countries.

    III. (co-authored with Elmira Kmkulkz). "Traditional Cultures in Central Asia," a series of web pages exploring various aspects of Central Asian culture, the primary focus being the culture of the pastoral nomads. These pages combine contemporary observations with some of the evidence from the sources for the earlier history. Included are pages on

  • animals
  • religion
  • dwellings
  • food
  • IV. Cities and Architecture along the Silk Road. Essays to date include:

  • Almaliq
  • Xi'an/Chang'an (Xi'an)
  • Dunhuang, including Notes on the History of Dunhuang; Social, Economic and Political History, Dunhuang as a Military Outpost, and an illustrated edition of the T'ang-era description, the Tun Huang Lu
  • Karakorum
  • Samarkand, a general introduction, and specific pages on the Shah-i-Zinde, the Bibi Khanum Mosque, and Ulugh Beg and his Observatory
  • Delhi, with pages so far on Architecture of the Delhi Sultanate and on Humayun's Tomb
  • Fatehpur Sikri
  • Agra, with pages on the Tomb of Itimad al-Dawla and on the Taj Mahal
  • Mshatta
  • Bursa, including a separate page on Bursa and the Silk Industry
  • Istanbul/Constantinople, part I
  • V. Essays for the virtual "Art of the Silkroad" exhibit. The links here are to the pages illustrations in most cases with works of art, for which the annotation has been written by John Szostak. The main narrative text in each case is mine.

  • Trade: Horses and Camels
  • Trade: Silk
  • Rome's Eastern Trade
  • Byzantium and the East
  • The Yungang Caves
  • Chang'an (Xi'an)
  • The Oases of the Northern Tarim Basin
  • Dunhuang and the Mogao Caves
  • The Uighurs
  • The Tanguts
  • The Mongols
  • The Timurids
  • The Shah-i Zinde in Samarkand
  • The Great Mosque (Qingzhen Dasi) in Xi'an
  • VI. The Pax Mongolica, written for the Silkroad Foundation

    VII. Various photo collections, posted in anticipation of the writing of additional Internet-based essays. These include photographs of Kashgar, Beijing, and other Silkroad cities which may be found under "Cities" in Silk Road Seattle, and an extensive collection of images of Silkroad art in museum collections.

    Unless otherwise indicated in the various linked pages, these materials are Copyright 2002 Daniel C. Waugh

    Last updated January 14, 2007