Road: Trade, Travel, War and Faith
The world’s oldest book, and much more, from the road East.
Grade Level: 9-12
The Silk Road from the British Library explores the journey of explorer
Sir Marc Aurel Stein that uncovered tens of thousands of manuscripts,
paintings, and artifacts dating from the second century BC to the 15th
This well-organized site has links to the main areas within the text
of the main page as well as a right side menu and a bottom navigation bar. Shockwave is required for viewing the virtual book.
“The Silk Road is the ancient trade route passing from the
shores of the Mediterranean through Bukhara and Samarkand to Dunhuang
and on to Xian in central China.” Visitors can view a map
of the complex network of pathways that transported silk, spices
and other commodities as well as cultural influences. The map is
also available in print quality .pdf format. Sir Marc Aurel Stein
made four journeys along this path to find paintings, manuscripts
and printed items that had remained hidden in a cave near Dunhuang,
China. One of the most exciting finds was the Diamond Sutra, the
world’s earliest printed book to bear a date (11 May, 868).
The main feature of this site is the interactive view of this work.
Visitors can view segments of the book and listen to audio narration.
In addition to the virtual view of the book, five illustrated themes
are explored: The development of the book and the invention of printing,
Languages and scripts of the eastern Silk Road, Buddhas and bodhisattvas,
Play on the Silk Road, and The Silk Road sky. The five themes feature
primary documents such as the printed Almanac in Chinese, the Khotanese
animal zodiac, the Census for 416, and much more.
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