Book: Case Studies in the Silk Roads Archaeology
Chapter: Archaeology of the Silk Roads: Old Questions, New Answers
Relationships and exchanges between people and the environment are inseparable. Examination of the
physical landscape can often help us understand communities and cultures, and vice-versa. Important
features of human and physical geography therefore have to be taken into account in an attempt to study
interactions along the Silk Roads, particularly since the networks stretched across an immense area of
diverse terrains and cultures.
The main theme of the book centres on how the frontier regions of the Silk Roads were transformed by trade: What do archaeological landscapes reveal about the formation of kingdoms? How are social identities represented in burial practices? How can animal imagery offer clues to the history of transcontinental trade? A number of contributors to this volume address key questions instrumental in understanding migratory practices, civilian settlements and belief systems. In doing so, they provide a context for comparative debate that takes into account both environments and societies, instead of focusing on them as separate research trajectories. This offers a broader interpretative potential of the trade networks which is highly applicable to the archaeological record as well as to an understanding of how and why it matters today. The journey the papers take us through demonstrates precisely this significance stretching across Europe, Asia and Africa from the 4th millennium BC to the 10th century AD.
The book is a rare contribution that gives new insights into the complex dimensions of the journeys lost in history based solely on archaeological evidence. As such, it is of benefit to a wide-ranging readership interested in interpretations of the ways Afro-Eurasian ancient trade routes adopted cultural, religious and technological exchanges.