Author Archives: Susan Whitfield

Early Exhibitions of the Collections of Aurel Stein, Part 4: 1918, Royal Geographical Society, London

@RGS_IBG 1918 exhibition of Aurel Stein’s 3rd expedition #SilkRoad #photographs. Continue reading

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Countless Moments of Mourning: a personal statement

I no longer visit the People’s Republic of China (PRC). As an established scholar with long-standing connections to institutions there, I feel that visiting the PRC could be seen as an endorsement of the current regime and their actions. Not … Continue reading

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Selenium and Horses in China: A Missing Link

‘In climbing up and down mountains and crossing ravines and mountain torrents, the horses of China cannot compare with those of the Xiongnu.’1 This observation by Chao Cuo 晁錯 (ca. 200–154 BC), a minister in the Han empire ruling China … Continue reading

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Aurel Stein at Dunhuang

A snippet from the forthcoming paper concerning Stein’s acquisitions from the Library cave at Dunhuang Mogao. Continue reading

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UNESCO and the Silk Road: The Role of Japan

‘Silk Roads’ is now a concept embraced by UNESCO, with the first transnational serial site as inscribed in 2014. Japan had played a vital role in the early discussion of Eurasian links which led to the adoption of the ‘Silk … Continue reading

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A Trio of Mismatched Camels

A stone relief carving by a leading sculptor in 19th century Britain shows three camels—and the bones of a fourth—laden with goods being led by a man dressed in Bedouin robes. The frieze has been noted in several books and recent blog posts but few have mentioned a striking feature: the central camel is clearly a Bactrian, a two-humped camel from central Asia. How do we explain this anatopistic beast? Continue reading

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Routes from the Swat: Buddhism in Khotan

In AD 480 the Chinese pilgrim Faxian reached the central Asian oasis kingdom of Khotan, source of jade and a thriving centre of Buddhism. Even though Buddhism was well established in his homeland, China, he was struck by the evidence … Continue reading

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Early Exhibitions of the Collections of Aurel Stein, Part 3: 1914, King Edward VII Galleries

On 7 May 1914, the British Museum opened the new north wing of the Museum, the King Edward VII Galleries.1 The opening exhibition in the ground floor galleries showed paintings, manuscripts and other artefacts acquired by Aurel Stein (1862–1943) on … Continue reading

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New Book: Silk Roads: Peoples, Cultures, Landscapes

CONTENTS EXCERPT FROM INTRODUCTION There was no ‘Silk Road’. It is a modern label in widespread use only since the late 20th century and used since then to refer to trade and interaction across Afro-Eurasia from roughly 200 BE to … Continue reading

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The Rectification of Names: Caves, Grottos or Rock-Cut Temples?

“If the names are not correct, language is without an object.” Confucius, Translated by Simon Leys. The Analects of Confucius: London and New York: W. W. Norton 1997: 13, 3. In her 2013 essay, Phyllis Granoff argued that the term … Continue reading

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