This volume explores human migration, communication, and cross-cultural exchange on the Silk Road, a complex network of trade routes spanning the Eurasian continent and beyond. It covers thousands of years of human history, from the 3rd millennium BCE to the early 2nd millennium CE.

Consolidating archaeological discoveries, historical analyses, and linguistic studies in one comprehensive volume, The World of the Ancient Silk Road brings to light diverse perspectives from scholars who have lived and worked across this vast region, many of which are published here in English for the first time. It contains extensive references of primary and secondary sources in their original languages and scripts. From Early Bronze Age cultures to the rise of regional Islamic empires, from the Mediterranean to the Yellow River basin, this multidisciplinary volume seeks to offer new insights and expand Silk Road studies to the Anglophone world.

The World of the Ancient Silk Road provides an essential reference work for students and scholars of world history, particularly those studying the regions, cultures, and peoples explored in this volume.

chapter |18 pages


part 1|152 pages

Landscape of the Silk Road

chapter 1|31 pages

Kongquehe Bronze Age Culture

A Page of Early Eurasian History

chapter 2|10 pages

Tocharian Controversy

A Mobile Language Landscape of Central Asia

chapter 3|11 pages

Aramaic in the 1st Millennium bce

Its Reception and Diffusion

part 2|90 pages

Pastoral Nomads and Agricultural Societies

part 3|166 pages

Silk Trade and Caravan Cities

chapter 15|17 pages

Astana, Jiaohe, and Other Turfan Cemeteries

The Movement of People, Ideas, and Objects in Gaochang Kingdom (442–640)

chapter 17|25 pages

Caravan Cities in the Roman Near East

Palmyra and Petra

chapter 20|24 pages

Roads of Swat

New Perspectives

chapter 21|10 pages

The Silk Road and the “Cotton Road”

Buddhist Art and Practice Between Central Asia and the Western Deccan

part 4|160 pages

Empires and Religions

chapter 24|13 pages

Elephants, Greeks, and Gold

The Silk Road in the Age of Hellenistic Empires

chapter 26|13 pages

Sogdian Religion Along the Silk Road

Variations of Zoroastrianism in Medieval China

chapter 32|45 pages

Virtual Silk Roads

Objects, Exhibitions, and Learners