The Silk Road

3 Dec, 2009 950 History of Asia

Melvyn Bragg and guests Tim Barrett, Naomi Standen and Frances Wood discuss the Silk Road, the trade routes which spanned Asia for over a thousand years, carrying Buddhism to China and paper-making and gunpowder westwards.In 1900, a Taoist monk came upon a cave near the Chinese town of Dunhuang. Inside, he found thousands of ancient manuscripts. They revealed a vast amount of evidence about the so-called Silk Road: the great trade routes which had stretched from Central Asia, through desert oases, to China, throughout the first millennium.Besides silk, the Silk Road helped the dispersion of writing and paper-making, coinage and gunpowder, and it was along these trade routes that Buddhism reached China from India. The history of these transcontinental links reveals a dazzlingly complex meeting and mingling of civilisations, which lasted for well over a thousand years.

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  • Tim Barrett 8 episodes
    Professor of East Asian History at the School of Oriental and African Studies
  • Naomi Standen 3 episodes
    Senior Lecturer in Chinese Studies at Newcastle University
  • Frances Wood 10 episodes
    Head of the Chinese Section at the British Library

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Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello, in 1900 a Taoist monk came upon a cave near the Chinese town of Dunhuang.