A Traveler’s History of the Silk Road: Revelations from Dunhuang Materials

Ancient oriental painted artwork depicting a travelling group with elephant and mule

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Part of the Georgetown-IDP Lecture Series: Following the Silk Roads to North America

This is an online event hosted on Zoom. Bookers are sent a link in advance giving access.

Many scholarly works have examined the economic, social, and cultural significance of the Silk Road in pre-modern Eurasia. But what was it like to actually travel on the Silk Road? Did travelers move on foot or with the help of animals? What animals accompanied them, and for what purposes? What did they eat when they were on the road? How did they manage geographical information? How did they communicate with other people who spoke different languages? How did they fund their trips? The rich information contained in Dunhuang materials – both textual and visual – allows us to answer these questions with details unavailable elsewhere. By collecting piecemeal information preserved in the multilingual collection of Dunhuang documents as well as mural paintings and paintings on textile, this talk attempts to tell a traveler’s history of the Silk Road.

Dr Xin Wen is an assistant professor of East Asian Studies and History at Princeton University. He received his PhD in Inner Asian and Altaic Studies at Harvard University, and a MA in the history of the Tang dynasty at Peking University. He is now finishing his first book on diplomatic travelers on the Silk Road on the basis of Dunhuang materials.

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Name: A Traveler’s History of the Silk Road: Revelations from Dunhuang Materials
Where: British Library St Pancras
When: -
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546