Thursday, April 19, 2018

Empires of Ancient Eurasia: The First Silk Roads Era, 100 BCE – 250 CE

Craig Benjamin

Cambridge University Press

Publication Date:
April 2018


The Silk Roads are the symbol of the interconnectedness of ancient Eurasian civilizations. Using challenging land and maritime routes, merchants and adventurers, diplomats and missionaries, sailors and soldiers, and camels, horses and ships, carried their commodities, ideas, languages and pathogens enormous distances across Eurasia. The result was an underlying unity that traveled the length of the routes, and which is preserved to this day, expressed in common technologies, artistic styles, cultures and religions, and even disease and immunity patterns. In words and images, Craig Benjamin explores the processes that allowed for the comingling of so many goods, ideas, and diseases around a geographical hub deep in central Eurasia. He argues that the first Silk Roads era was the catalyst for an extraordinary increase in the complexity of human relationships and collective learning, a complexity that helped drive our species inexorably along a path towards modernity.

Table of Contents:

1. Pastoral nomads and the empires of the Steppe
2. Early China: prelude to the silk roads
3. Zhang Qian and Han expansion into Central Asia
4. The early Han dynasty and the Eastern Silk Roads
5. Rome and the Western Silk Roads
6. The Parthian Empire and the Silk Roads
7. The Kushan Empire: at the crossroads of ancient Eurasia
8. Maritime routes of the first Silk Roads era
9. Collapse of Empires and the decline of the first Silk Roads era

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