HIST 393 The Silk Road
A comprehensive introduction to the cultural influence and material exchange among major civilizations along the Silk Road. It covers the period of more than one thousand years between the 2nd and the 15th centuries CE, during which time forces wielded by the Persians, the Chinese, the Indians, the Tibetans and the Mongols shaped the geopolitical landscape of the vast region that spreads from the Caspian Sea to the Gobi Desert. Students explore the role of the Silk Road in the formation of the religious and ethnic identities of these civilizations, as well as their perceptions towards one another. Along with textual materials, the course uses extensive visual and musical materials to present interesting phenomena, such as Sogdian burial practice, Arab accounts of Tang China, Nestorial Christianity at the Mongol court, and Marco Polo's journey to the East. The course begins and concludes with discussion of the contemporary significance of the Silk Road as a historical category.
History does not just narrate a sequence of past events. The practice of history examines change over time and tries to understand the forces that contributed to those changes. Historians are most interested in questions that begin by asking ‘why’ or ‘how.’ These questions demand complex answers about who we are, how we have come to where we are, and what forces have shaped humanity through time.
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