Teaching/Learning Guides
Silk Road Teaching/Learning Guides

Compiled and Annotated by
Daniel C. Waugh
University of Washington


The Silk Road is widely understood to have been the overland trade route from China to the Mediterranean, opened first in the 2nd-century B.C.E. and coming to an end between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries C.E. due to a variety of political and economic changes. The traditional discussions of the Silk Road do recognize that there were branches of it which went into South Asia or extended from Central Asia north of the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea. Yet too often even those who recognize the full extent of the route(s) confine their discussions of it to that which is today within China. Also, it is clear that many of the activities characteristic of the Silk Road in its heyday continued beyond the seventeenth century. In the context of the economic development of Central Asia today, there is a lot of talk about a modern revival of the Silk Road, although in the conditions of today's global economy, the term probably retains little of its historic essence.

My current thinking about the Silk Road is broadly multicultural and multi-disciplinary. If one of the concerns for those of us in education is to stimulate our students to think about the way cultures develop and interact, then to study economic and cultural exchange across Eurasia for, say, nearly two millennia, offers wonderful opportunities to cut across textbook conventions that divide the world in ways that do not always make sense in terms of its physical or human geography and its history.

These pages list and annotate materials which may be of value for a range of audiences: school children and their teachers, college students, the independent adult learner. This is not intended as a reference work for scholarly research; for the most part I have selected materials which may be broadly available on line, for purchase, or through any good library. What is offered here is largely my personal selection, much of it based on the experience of teaching college-level classes relating to the Silk Road. This teaching is a learning process for me, one with no finite limits, given the breadth of the subject. Where possible, the annotations are based on my actually having read or otherwise used the materials. Users of this guide should recognize that my opinions may not coincide with those of others, especially individuals who have a different range of professional expertise. This guide cannot pretend to be comprehensive, but as time permits, material will be added to fill the many obvious gaps. The compiler welcomes corrections and suggestions for additions.

The material is divided into the following sections, within which will be found additional thematic or chronological divisions:

  • Surveys
  • Chronologies
  • Reference
  • Maps
  • Specific Topics
  • Geography
  • History
  • Travelers
  • Religion
  • Art
  • Curriculum Materials
  • Videos and CD-ROMs
  • Web links not included in the above
  • 2001 Daniel C. Waugh. Last updated December 24, 2001.

    Silk Road Seattle is a project of the Walter Chapin Simpson Center for the Humanities at the University of Washington.