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Empires of Ancient Eurasia
The First Silk Roads Era, 100 BCE – 250 CE

$26.99 (P)

Part of New Approaches to Asian History

  • Date Published: May 2018
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107535435

$ 26.99 (P)

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About the Authors
  • The Silk Roads are the symbol of the interconnectedness of ancient Eurasian civilizations. Using challenging land and maritime routes, merchants and adventurers, diplomats and missionaries, sailors and soldiers, and camels, horses and ships, carried their commodities, ideas, languages and pathogens enormous distances across Eurasia. The result was an underlying unity that traveled the length of the routes, and which is preserved to this day, expressed in common technologies, artistic styles, cultures and religions, and even disease and immunity patterns. In words and images, Craig Benjamin explores the processes that allowed for the comingling of so many goods, ideas, and diseases around a geographical hub deep in central Eurasia. He argues that the first Silk Roads era was the catalyst for an extraordinary increase in the complexity of human relationships and collective learning, a complexity that helped drive our species inexorably along a path towards modernity.

    • The first accessible single-volume history of all of ancient Eurasia, offering an account of the major sedentary and nomadic states and empires of the region
    • Conceptualizes the Silk Roads within big history, world-systems, and ancient globalizations to connect history and theory
    • Offers a fresh approach to understanding historical developments in the ancient world
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Craig Benjamin places the pastoral nomads of Central Asia - and their horses - at the center of the story of the First Silk Road Era, convincingly arguing that the Yuezhi and Xiongnu, two militarized nomadic confederations rarely even mentioned in surveys of world history, are responsible for this dramatic period of trade and cultural exchange.' Merry Wiesner-Hanks, Editor-in-Chief, Cambridge World History

    'A lucid, original, expert and up-to-date account of the emergence and evolution of the silk roads that began to weave together all the major civilizations of Europe, both by land and sea, early in the first Millennium CE. A great introduction to one of world history’s most important themes.' David Christian, Macquarie University, Sydney

    'Craig Benjamin’s Empires of Ancient Eurasia, [is] an enthralling introduction to this 'First Silk Roads' era of long-distance exchange by land and sea. Benjamin begins his tale with the migration of pastoral Steppe nomads in the second century BC that traced out the first route west, and then charts the rise of the Chinese Han dynasty who controlled the business end, producing silk and other luxury goods.' Josephine Crawley Quinn, The Times Literary Supplement

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2018
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107535435
    • length: 316 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 151 x 16 mm
    • weight: 0.46kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Pastoral nomads and the empires of the Steppe
    2. Early China: prelude to the silk roads
    3. Zhang Qian and Han expansion into Central Asia
    4. The early Han dynasty and the Eastern Silk Roads
    5. Rome and the Western Silk Roads
    6. The Parthian Empire and the Silk Roads
    7. The Kushan Empire: at the crossroads of ancient Eurasia
    8. Maritime routes of the first Silk Roads era
    9. Collapse of Empires and the decline of the first Silk Roads era

  • Author

    Craig Benjamin, Grand Valley State University, Michigan
    Craig Benjamin is Professor of History at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. He is the author of several books and numerous chapters and articles on ancient history, including Volume 4 of The Cambridge History of the World (Cambridge, 2015). Craig has filmed programs and courses for the History Channel and The Great Courses. He is a Past President of the World History Association and Vice President of the International Big History Association.

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