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


ByXinru Liu

part 1|152 pages

Landscape of the Silk Road

chapter 1|31 pages

Kongquehe Bronze Age Culture

A Page of Early Eurasian History
ByWang Binghua, Xinru Liu

chapter 2|10 pages

Tocharian Controversy

A Mobile Language Landscape of Central Asia
ByXinru Liu

chapter 3|11 pages

Aramaic in the 1st Millennium bce

Its Reception and Diffusion
ByLiu Jian

chapter 7|32 pages

Natural and Cultural History of the Camel

ByRenato Sala

part 2|90 pages

Pastoral Nomads and Agricultural Societies

chapter 10|13 pages

The Kushans, viz. the Dà Yuèzhī

A Century-Long Fallacy
ByShoshin Kuwayama

chapter 11|18 pages

Looking for the City of Horse

Mingtepa During the Time of Dayuan Kingdom
ByZhu Yanshi, Liu Tao, Xinru Liu

chapter 12|19 pages

Qïrqïz/Kyrgyz, a People Lived Between Empires

ByJia Yiken

chapter 13|21 pages

Images of Knights on the Great Silk Road

ByKazim Abdullaev

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)
ByArmin Selbitschka

chapter 16|4 pages

Turfan, the Frontier Transmitting Smallpox to Tang China

BySong Xian, Xinru Liu

chapter 17|25 pages

Caravan Cities in the Roman Near East

Palmyra and Petra
ByHamish Cameron

chapter 20|24 pages

Roads of Swat

New Perspectives
ByLuca M. Olivieri

chapter 21|10 pages

The Silk Road and the “Cotton Road”

Buddhist Art and Practice Between Central Asia and the Western Deccan
ByPia Brancaccio

part 4|160 pages

Empires and Religions

chapter 24|13 pages

Elephants, Greeks, and Gold

The Silk Road in the Age of Hellenistic Empires
ByBenjamin Abbott

chapter 26|13 pages

Sogdian Religion Along the Silk Road

Variations of Zoroastrianism in Medieval China
ByZhang Xiaogui

chapter 27|20 pages

Buddhist Propagation and Language Barriers 1

ByXinru Liu

chapter 29|14 pages

Roman Silk Trade and Markets

ByBerit Hildebrandt

chapter 30|13 pages

Christian Discourses About Silks in Antiquity

ByBerit Hildebrand

chapter 32|45 pages

Virtual Silk Roads

Objects, Exhibitions, and Learners
ByDaniel C. Waugh