Author Archives: Susan Whitfield

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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Lost in the Desert: Stein at Dura-Europos

Aurel Stein at Dura-Europos, 1929. The British Library, Photo 392/42* Over the winter of 1928-9, the city of Dura-Europos on the Euphrates was being excavated by a team led by Maurice Pillet (1881-1964), which included a Yale academic, Clark Hopkins … Continue reading

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Silk Road Summer School

4-day Silk Road course in central London Continue reading

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Early Exhibitions of the Collections of Aurel Stein: Part 2: 1911: The Festival of Empire

The Festival of Empire opened at the Crystal Palace in north London on 12 May 1911 to celebrate the coronation of George V (r. 1910–1936). The Indian pavilion was one among the many exhibition spaces built to celebrate British imperial … Continue reading

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Slaves on the Silk Road

Slaves, like silks, were Silk Road goods, to be bought, used and sold for profit, and often transported long distances by land and sea to trade in foreign markets. While no slaves from this time survive to tell their story … Continue reading

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The Mozac Hunter Silk

Although several scholars have tried to displace silk from its key role in trade assumed by the term Silk Road and have argued for the equal if not greater influence of other goods, the importance of silk is not so … Continue reading

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Amluk Dara Stupa

Once rising almost as high as the Pantheon in Rome, the large stupa of Amluk Dara in the Swat valley, Pakistan, is still an imposing building. Yet it is was only one among many such Buddhist structures built in Udyāna, … Continue reading

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