Adventures on the Ancient Silk Road


A gripping account of three dramatic journeys that changed history.

The fabled Silk Road conjures up the sights, smells and sounds of faraway lands. But traveling the Silk Road took years, and those who set out encountered bandits, starvation and treacherous storms.

Adventures on the Ancient Silk Road introduces readers to three great historical figures:

Chinese Buddhist Xuanzang, whose 16-year journey from ...

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A gripping account of three dramatic journeys that changed history.

The fabled Silk Road conjures up the sights, smells and sounds of faraway lands. But traveling the Silk Road took years, and those who set out encountered bandits, starvation and treacherous storms.

Adventures on the Ancient Silk Road introduces readers to three great historical figures:

Chinese Buddhist Xuanzang, whose 16-year journey from China to India and back (629-645 AD) is the only source we have for huge chunks of the history and geography of this time. His successful search for Buddhist scriptures changed the course of two great nations.

Genghis Khan, bred from infancy to be a warrior, brought the Mongol clans together. He established the greatest empire the world had seen, which ruled the Silk Road from 1201 to 1227.

Italian merchant Marco Polo journeyed through China from 1271 to 1295. He changed the way Europe saw the world, and his book even inspired Columbus to sail west across the Atlantic Ocean in search of China.

Beautiful photographs and art depicting the ancient routes and peoples bring the stories to life. Maps, sidebars and an afterword that updates the story of the Silk Road are also featured.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Angie Hammond
Although the term "Silk Road" was not coined until 1877, the trade routes in the Eastern World were used from as far back as the fifth century BCE. This book chronicles the adventures and perils of three men with very different stories on the Silk Road, covering a span of years from 629 BCE—1266 CE. Xuanzang was a Buddhist monk who left China with a mission to collect Buddhist scriptures from India to bring to his homeland for translation. Genghis Khan's story of uniting a Mongol nation, although mostly through conquering neighboring clans, is also one of improving transportation and communication along the various trade routes of the Silk Road. Venetian Marco Polo and his family were some of the first Europeans to travel along the Silk Road. His twenty-four years in service to the Chinese Emperor Kublai Khan were later chronicled in a wildly popular book that heightened the exotic lure of the Far East. Beautiful illustrations, maps, and pictures complement comprehensive yet easy-to-understand text. Galloway presents the material in a way that is accessible without being condescending. Sidebars and extras add texture, richness, and a greater understanding of the time and the area. This great introduction to the mysterious East or insight into any of the three travelers presented can be placed in the hands of students interested in history as well as those mesmerized by the lives of others. Reviewer: Angie Hammond
School Library Journal
Gr 6–8—The monk Xuanzang, the conqueror Genghis Khan, and the merchant Marco Polo each traveled the Silk Road, years apart. Their journeys, by different routes and for different motives, are gripping historical narratives, sensitively and excitingly fictionalized here, in language that is lively and descriptive, clear but not oversimplified. Vibrant reproductions of art and photos of artifacts leap off every colorful page. Descriptions of smells, sounds, and tastes are used to complement the abundant visuals, and the three stories are artfully structured to maximize drama and hold interest. Sidebars extend the book's reach with information on geography, language, religion, art, architecture, food, animals, and, naturally, silk manufacture. Maps, further-reading lists, a brief update to today's Road, and an index add to the learning value. Readers will be both riveted and informed.—Patricia D. Lothrop, St. George's School, Newport, RI
Kirkus Reviews
For more than 2,000 years travelers have been making their way through central Asia along what we now call "The Silk Road." Galloway introduces that network of trade routes between China and India and west to Egypt and Europe through three such travelers: the Chinese monk Xuanzang, looking for Buddhist manuscripts and relics in India in the seventh century; the warrior Genghis Khan, creating and enlarging his Mongol empire in the 12th; and the merchant Marco Polo, carrying gifts from the Pope to Kublai Khan in China in the 13th. Readers drawn in by the action of the dramatic opening scene, in which a bandit chief threatens the peaceful monk with a bloodstained sword, will find much to appreciate in the lively storytelling, the wealth of detail and the boxes that add background information. Design features, including well-reproduced photographs and paintings, hand-drawn maps and use of color accents, add interest to the text. Finally, a substantial list of further reading adds to the informational value of this intriguing title. (index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)
Canadian Materials - Val Ken Lem
Hunter manages to capture the exotic places and customs associated with the famous trade route in biographies of three exceptional historic figures who travelled this series of trade routes that linked the Far East lands of China with the more Western worlds of India, Egypt, and even Europe.... Adventures on the Ancient Silk Road is beautifully designed with a lot of colour and numerous illustrations.... Modern photographs of animals and objects such as yurts or gers that have changed little over the centuries helps to connect the lives of the ancient travellers with the current world. Other events or sites are illustrated through reproductions from works of art created long ago.... The authors make use of recreated dialogue but not to excess. The book includes a useful index and two pages of further readings, including many websites organized into four sections: The Silk Road, Xuanzang, Genghis Khan, and Marco Polo. Highly Recommended.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781554511976
  • Publisher: Annick Press, Limited
  • Publication date: 8/20/2009
  • Pages: 168
  • Sales rank: 831,523
  • Age range: 10 - 13 Years
  • Lexile: 960L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 7.70 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Priscilla Galloway is the author of more than 20 books, including Archers, Alchemists and 98 Other Medieval Jobs You Might Have Loved or Loathed. She divides her time between Toronto and Georgian Bay, Ontario.

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Chapter 1
The Silk Road and the Seeker: Xuanzang
Chapter 2
The Silk Road and the Warrior: Genghis Khan
Chapter 3
The Silk Road and the Merchant: Marco Polo

Further Reading
Photo Credits

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The Silk Road -- for centuries, this name has conjured up the sights and smells and sounds of faraway lands: shimmering desert sands; icy, windswept mountain passes; the reek of camel caravans; the hubbub of marketplaces. Above all, the title has stood for the lure of soft, rustling, luxurious silk.

Despite its name, the Silk Road was not just one path. Instead, it was made up of many trade routes that ran from China to India and Egypt, through the cities of Baghdad and Constantinople and Samarkand, all the way to Moscow and Venice and other European cities. The Silk Road traveled over land and over water.

The journey was long and difficult. Part of it was by ship, powered by sails or oars. Much of it was over land, with animals and people carrying goods. The journey from China to southern India could take a year. Marco Polo and his family took three years to travel 8000
kilometers (4970 miles) from their home in Venice to the court of the Chinese emperor in Beijing.

The Silk Road linked wealthy cities, with their richly decorated palaces and public buildings, and passed through the fertile green farmland surrounding these cities. However, much of it crossed bleak and rugged country with few inhabitants. Travelers fought off bandits, went hungry and thirsty, and survived storms and avalanches. When countries along the Silk Road were at war, soldiers often stole from travelers and sometimes killed them. In the most dangerous times, journeys along the Silk Road were few, but when peace returned, the trade routes thronged with people again. So it went for about two thousand years, dating from the fifth century BCE.

This book introduces three very different men who, for very different reasons, braved the journey along the Silk Road. The earliest of them was a Chinese man, a Buddhist pilgrim named Xuanzang
(pronounced Shoon dzang) who, in the seventh century, brought important religious books from India back to his home country. The second, some five hundred years later, was a Mongolian warrior and a conqueror, Genghis Khan. The third, Marco Polo, was a merchant from Venice, who traveled east on the Silk Road to the court of the Chinese emperor in the late 13th century.

You will no doubt notice there are no major roles for women in this book. Except in the case of Genghis Khan, since women had power and position among the Mongols, women in our three travelers' lives were seldom named in the records. There were no independent female travelers in medieval times, and no epic tales of their adventures. When women did travel, we have no record of their thoughts.

Over the centuries, much has moved along the Silk Road: silk and other trade goods, such as jewels and gold, wool and linen, and salt. New ideas were born along the Silk Road too:
religions, such as Buddhism and Islam, spread from one country to another, as did new technologies and inventions, art, and literature. All the explorers in this book contributed a great deal to this exchange of wares and world news, affecting change that can still be felt today. Without their efforts, some religions might have died out, some countries might have remained isolated, and Christopher Columbus might never have set out for China and discovered North America.

A Note on the Origin of the Name

No one used the name "Silk Road" in any writings from our three travelers' time. The name was created by a German geographer named Ferdinand von Richtofen. Toward the end of the 19th century, he used the name to describe a loose network of land trade routes running from China, east to Japan, and west to the Mediterranean. Von Richtofen's catchy term quickly became popular and is still widely used.

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