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Cities and Architecture along the Silk Road

The goal of these pages is to provide historical and cultural information and, where available, a generous photographic record regarding some of the important Silk Road urban centers and their buildings. While the history of the Silk Road is very much a history of interaction between nomadic and sedentary cultures, much of the economic and cultural development people normally think of in connection with the Silk Road is that in urban settings. Given constraints of what is freely available to us for visual material, in many cases the pages will focus on a single architectural complex or even a single famous building. However, the choices here are not arbitrary, since we feel those which we illustrate are important examples of the cultural diversity which was the Silk Road. It is important to remember that the Silk Road is not just China and Central Asia but extends to the Mediterranean and to the Indian Ocean. Hence the inclusion of locales such as Delhi, Ephesus and Istanbul.

In many cases, the sets of photographs will, at least initially, be accompanied by only minimal descriptive text. However, we feel that many educational purposes can be served by providing even just good photos: there will be rich resources here for the art historian and for those interested in design. For teaching about the Silk Road, it makes sense to include material with a contemporary focus (for example, the bazaar at Kashgar), since often the contemporary culture encourages exploration of the past. As time permits, we will revise the pages and add text. To the best of our knowledge, many of the photo sets will provide the most complete visual documentation of individual sites available anywhere on the Web. We will be adding maps and links to other sources for the history and culture of the featured cities. One of our goals is to create some interactive maps as access points to the resources on these pages.

The promised pages will be added gradually. Since the initial selection is limited by practical constraints of time to write the pages and availability of photographs, the creators of Silk Road Seattle welcome additional contributions. We would be happy to take raw material (e.g., photo collections), scan and edit, do the research necessary to provide captions and context. Owners of the photographs will reserve their copyright for any purposes other than the non-profit educational ones served by this web site. Potential authors of text about Silk Road cities and buildings who would share their expertise should also contact us.