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The Silk Roads: A Brief History with Documents / Edition 1

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For more than 1500 years, across more than 4000 miles, the Silk Roads connected East and West. These overland trails and sea lanes carried not only silks, but also cotton textiles, dyes, horses, incense, spices, gems, glass, and ceramics along with religious ideas, governing customs, and technology. For this book, Xinru Liu has assembled primary sources from ancient China, India, Central Asia, Rome and the Mediterranean, and the Islamic world, many of them difficult to access and some translated into English for the first time. Court histories, geographies and philosophical treatises, letters, travelers’ accounts, inventories, inscriptions, laws, religious texts, and more, introduce students to the complexities of cultural exchange. Liu’s thoughtful introduction considers the many ways the peoples along the Silk Roads interacted and helps students understand the implications for economies and societies, as well as political and religious institutions, over space and time. Maps, document headnotes and annotations, a chronology, questions for consideration, and a selected bibliography offer additional pedagogical support.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312475512
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's
  • Publication date: 3/21/2012
  • Series: Bedford Cultural Editions Series
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 653,949
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Xinru Liu (Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania) teaches world history, the history of South Asia, and the history of Central Asia at the College of New Jersey in Ewing. She is associated with the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of History and Institute of World History. Among her many publications are The Silk Road in World History; Connections Across Eurasia: Transportation, Communications, and Cultural Exchange on the Silk Roads with Lynda Norene Shaffer; Silk and Religion: An Exploration of Material Life and the Thought of People in A.D. 600 –1200; and Ancient India and Ancient China.

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Table of Contents

Foreword v

Preface vii

List of Maps and Illustrations xv

Part 1 Introduction: From the Rise of the Silk Roads to a Eurasian Market System 1

China's Trade on the Western Frontier, Second First Centuries BCE 4

Rome's Trade to the East, First Century BCE Second Century CE 7

The Kushan Empire and the Influence of Buddhism, Second Century BCE Second Century CE 10

The Oasis Towns of Central Asia and the Spread of Buddhism, Third-Seventh Centuries 15

The Byzantine Empire and Silks in Royal Purple, Sixth Ninth Centuries 19

The Tang Empire and Foreign Traders and Priests, Eighth Tenth Centuries 22

Muslim Baghdad in the Eurasian Market, Ninth Eleventh Centuries 26

Trade Networks from the Mediterranean to the South China Sea, Tenth Thirteenth Centuries 28

Part 2 The Documents 35

1 China's Trade on the Western Frontier, Second-First Centuries BCE 37

1 Sima Qian, Records of the Grand Historian of China, Early First Century BCE 37

2 Ban Gu, History of the Former Han Dynasty, Late First Century CE 44

3 Documents Excavated from Juyan Fort on the Great Wall, ca. 103 BCE-40 CE 47

Letter from an Officer to His Wife 48

Travelers' Passports 49

Soldiers'Work Assignments 49

2 Rome's Trade to the East, First Century BCE-Second Century CE 51

4 Strabo, The Geography, Early First Century CE 51

5 Arrian, The Campaigns of Alexander, ca.145-60 CE 54

6 Pliny, Natural History, 77 CE 59

7 The Voyage around the Red Sea, First Century CE 74

8 Ptolemy, The Geography, Mid-Second Century CE 80

3 The Kushan Empire and the Influence of Buddhism, Second Century BCE-Second Century CE 84

9 The Questions of King Milinda, ca. 166-150 BCE 84

10 The Lotus of the True Law, First Century BCE-First Century CE 91

11 TheAmitabha Sutra, First Century BCE-FirstCentury CE 94

12 Votive Inscription on a Silver Plaque from Taxila, First-Second Centuries CE 99

4 The Oasis Towns of Central Asia and the Spread of Buddhism, Third-Seventh Centuries 100

13 Documents Excavated from the Ruins ofNiya, Third Century 100

Contract for the Sale of a Vineyard 100

An Ownership Dispute about a Slave 101

Regulations for a Community of Monks 102

14 Nanai-vandak, Letter to the Noble Lord Varzakk, ca. 313 102

15 Faxian, A Record of the Buddhist Kingdoms, ca. 416 105

16 Song Yun and Huisheng, The Mission of Song Yun and Huisheng, ca. 547 107

17 Huili and Yanzong, The Life ofXuanzang, ca. 664-688 111

18 Inventories Excavated from a Turfan Cemetery, Mid Seventh Century 114

Tang Zhuanghui, ca. 641 115

Xinfu,672 115

5 The Byzantine Empire and Silks in Royal Purple, Sixth Ninth Centuries 120

19 Procopius, History of the Wars, ca. 550 120

20 Procopius, The Secret History, ca. 550 123

21 The Book of the Eparch, ca. 895 125

6 The Tang Empire and Foreign Traders and Priests, Eighth Tenth Centuries 133

22 Zhang Zhuo, Anecdotes from the Court and the Country, ca. 705 133

23 Jingjing, Inscriptions from the Nestorian Stele, 781 136

The Messiah of Christians 137

The Development of the Christian Church in China 137

24 Liu Xu and Others, The Old Tang History, 941-945 140

7 Muslim Baghdad in the Eurasian Market, Ninth-Eleventh Centuries 144

25 Sulayman al-Tajir and Others, An Account of China and India, ca. 851 144

26 Mas'udi, The Meadows of Gold: TheAbbasids, ca. 947 146

27 Book of Gifts and Rarities, Eleventh Century 149

8 Trade Networks from the Mediterranean to the South China Sea, Tenth Thirteenth Centuries 152

28 Captain Buzurg Ibn Shahriyar, The Book of the Wonders of India, 953 152

29 Inscription on a Cliff in the Port of Quanzhou, 1183 155

30 Ibn Jubayr, The Travels of lbn Jubayr, ca. 1185 157

31 Letter from a Jewish Trader in India to His Wife in Cairo, 1204 159

32 Zhao Rukuo, Records concerning Foreign Countries, 1225 164

33 Marco Polo, The Travels of Marco Polo, the Venetian, ca. 1298 166

34 Song Lian and Others, History of the Yuan Dynasty, 1370 168


A Chronology of the Silk Roads Second Century BCE Thirteenth Century CE 171

Questions for Consideration 174

Selected Bibliography 176

Index 183

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