China’s Silk Roads: Ancient and Modern

Grand Valley State University

Craig Benjamin is a Professor of History Emeritus at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. The author of numerous articles and books on the Silk Roads, including Empires of Ancient Eurasia: The First Silk Roads Era 100 BCE – 250 CE, Professor Benjamin has led numerous tours to Central Asia, China, and Mongolia.

 

Overview

History of the Silk Road

The Silk Roads were the most important trade network of the pre-modern world, connecting much of Eurasia into a vibrant system of commercial and intellectual exchanges. This lecture explores the origins, operation and impact of the land and maritime routes of the Silk Roads across more than two thousand years of history.  The primary function of the Silk Roads was to facilitate trade, but the intellectual, social, artistic and biological exchanges that resulted had an even greater impact on subsequent world history.

Learn More About China’s Silk Roads

The Silk Roads also facilitated the establishment of enormous tributary empires by two ancient Chinese dynasties: the Han and Tang.  Dynastic rulers used diplomatic, military and financial mechanisms to establish political hegemony over much of Inner and East Asia.  In 2013 the President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, announced the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ (BRI), an ambitious plan to use Chinese investment to stimulate economic development over wide regions of Asia, Africa and even Europe. This lecture also considers the geopolitical impact of the BRI, which has the potential to once again position China as the pre-eminent power of Asia, just like the Han and Tang dynasties of China’s ancient past.

 

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Jeffrey Watt

Silk Roads

Truly wonderful lecturer and interesting lecture! So fun to learn about this period of history and project into the modern world.

7 months ago
Marc Tanenbaum

The Silk Road TripTick

Professor Benjamin knows his stuff and presents a wonderful review of the history of the Silk Road. This lecture is well worth many revisits in my opinion.

7 months ago
Laurie Wellman

China's Silk Roads

Both fascinating and timely. Wonderful presentation.

7 months ago
Lyndsay

Enjoyable lecture. I had a superficial knowledge of the Silk Roads before. This talk did a great job of demonstrating how the Silk Roads affected and were affected by world events, and allowed me to make connections to other areas of world history with which I’m more familiar.

5 months ago
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