Art and Religion of the Silk Road

Year offered

Stretching some 8,000 kilometers from east to west, the Silk Road is a network of trade routes that provided a bridge between the east and the west. Although the eastern part of the routes had been in use for millennia, the opening of the Silk Road occurred during the first century BCE, when China secured control over the eastern section and began trading with the Roman Empire through intermediary states in Central Asia. From this time until the end of the Mongol Yuan period in the fourteenth century, with periods of disruptions, the Silk Road flourished as a commercial and at times military highway. But more than that, the Silk Road was a channel for the transmission of ideas, technologies, and artistic forms and styles, with far-reaching impact beyond China and the Mediterranean world, extending to Southwest Asia, Africa, the Atlantic shores of Europe, and Japan to the east. This seminar examines topics from the art forms, trade objects to religions that flourished along the Silk Road between the first and fourteenth centuries CE.