This study day will be held at Norden Farm Centre for the Arts, Altwood Road, Maidenhead SL6 4PF.
Monday 21 March 2022
10.15am Development of the Silk Roads in the Classical World to 2nd Century CE
Ideas of Silk Roads are deeply rooted in the long-distance connections between the contemporary powers of Imperial Rome and Han China, but what are the origins of these transcontinental routes? This first lecture examines the so-called ‘classical’ era of the Silk Roads by placing this phenomenon in the broader context of Central Asian trade up to the first centuries CE.
11.40am The Sogdian Trading Network in the early-mid 1st millennium CE
Long overlooked in the grand historical narratives of Western Europe, the traders of the Sogdian Empire (4th c. BCE – 8th c. CE) played a pivotal role in developing long-distance trade in silk and other exotic goods across Central Asia. We will investigate the astonishing archaeological and architectural remains of this region.
Please note: lunch can be pre-ordered from the café-bar. The consumption of your own food and drink is not permitted on the premises at Norden Farm.
1.40pm The Silk Roads after the coming of Islam 800-1300 CE
For the first time both the central and western extent came under the political and economic hegemony of the Caliphate. This period also saw a proliferation of infrastructure supporting long distance travel, for the purposes of trade and to facilitate the journeys of pilgrims and scholars. We will see how mountain and desert roads flourished in the medieval period, and the impact of extensive travel on cultural and artistic change across the Islamic World and beyond.
3.00pm The Modern Silk Roads
This final lecture looks at the re-emergence of discussions of the Silk Road, both in terms of initiatives such as China’s Belt and Road Scheme, and in terms of nation-building in the two decades since the independence of the previously Soviet Republics of Central Asia. Finally, we will critically review the impact of Silk Road narratives on today’s political discourse and consider where these ideas might lead us in the future.