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Silk 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 century AD.
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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