For many the “Silk Road” conjures images of exotic goods, verdant desert oases, and the bustling markets of ancient China. However, the Silk Road was also a conduit of ideas, technologies, diseases, the arts, and even fashion. Spread across nearly 6,500 km (4,000 mi), the Silk Road affected the course of history, molding civilizations in Europe, Arabia, Persia, India, and China. In this media interview, James Blake Wiener of the Ancient History Encyclopedia speaks with Professor Valerie Hansen, author of The Silk Road: A New History and Professor of History at Yale University. Approaching the importance of cultural transmission through archaeology and material history, Hansen reveals new perspectives while narrating a fascinating story of early global exchange.
Central Asia can be thought of as the “core region” of the Eurasian continent, stretching from the Caspian Sea to western China, the rugged mountains of Pakistan to the extensive steppes of southern Russia. Misunderstood, understudied, and oftentimes a front line between empires and geopolitical rivals, ancient Central Asia rarely receives the attention afforded to neighboring India, China, and Persia. Sensing the need for a composite resource focused solely on this compelling part of the world, Antoine Simonin, a long time contributor to the Ancient History Encyclopedia, built From Bactria to Taxila to fill this glaring void on the web. In this interview, James Blake Wiener of the Ancient History Encyclopedia, speaks to Antoine about the launch of his new e-resource webpage and why Central Asia is “off the radar” for most ancient historians and specialists.
The Sasanians of Iran have long played a historical “second fiddle” to their Romano-Byzantine, Indian, and Chinese neighbors. The last of the ancient Persian dynasties and perhaps the most culturally sophisticated of all Persian polities, the Sasanians were a dynamic and commanding force in the world of Late Antiquity. In this interview, James Wiener of the Ancient History Encyclopedia took the opportunity to speak with Professor Touraj Daryaee, an expert on Sasanian culture and politics.