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AL4ED - Pro Art and Co - The Road Silk Landscapes and Tradition
The Silk Road Map
Oil Paintings inspired by the book
“Travels of Marco Polo the Venetian”
Lilya was born in 1947 in Topola, Serbia, American nationality.
Education : B.A. in Painting, Frescoes, and Mosaics, Academy of Fine
Master of Fine Arts, Chelsea College of Arts, London, 1973.
Teaching : U.C.L.A., Los Angeles, 1975 – 1977, Wesley, Washington
Listed in the Bénézit Art Dictionary, Drouot Art Market Quotations,
Akoun Art Dictionary
Appointed Chevalier Artistique, Accademia Internacionale Greci
Marino, Italy in 1998
Silver Medal in the Arts category, Le Mérite et Dévouement Français,
1998 ; European Art Price, 2007
Collections : in Europe and the USA: Bibliothèque Nationale de
France, Paris; Musee Neue Galerie, Graz, Austria; Jewish Museum, Bel-
grade; National Museum, Kraljevo ; New York Public Library, New
York ; Artbank, Washington D.C.
Since 1970 : 46 One Person Shows and 200 Group Shows in Europe
SELECTION OF THE MOST IMPORTANT SHOWS
– Art and Architecture, UNESCO, Paris
– Parish Gallery, Washington D.C.
– International Print Center, New York
– Bibliotheque Nationale de France, Paris
– UNESCO Museum, Beirut
– Foire Internationale des Arts Contemporaine, Zurich
– Museum of Modern Arts, Madrid
– UCLA faculty Frederic White Gallery, Los Angeles
– American Institute of Architects San Francisco
–Triennale Mondiale d’Estampes Petit Format,
European Art Prize, Léopold Senghor, 2007
‘Byzantium’ or the ‘Byzantine Empire’, as the Eastern half of the Christian
Roman Empire is commonly known, is one of the great civilizations that
marked European and world history. Its legacy is felt strongly to our days, es-
pecially in art and architecture, literature and scholarship, theology and spir-
ituality, and ecclesiastical music.
The conventional terms ‘Byzantium’ and ‘Byzantine’ derives from the an-
cient Greek colony of Byzantion near the Bosphorus, where Emperor Con-
stantine the Great chose to built the city of Constantinople, as the new capital
of the Christian Roman Empire in the year 324. Seventeenth-century western
scholars used the term ‘Byzantium’ primarily in a political sense, to distin-
guish the Eastern from the Frankish Empire, recognised as the heir to the
Roman Empire in the West.
Byzantium is essentially the continuation of the Roman Empire in the East.
It survived the disintegration of the Western part, following the fall of Rome
in the year 476, and flourished without interruption for another thousand
years. Despite oriental influences, Greek language and culture prevailed
throughout its history. The Byzantines, however, regarded themselves as the
true Romans, and their God-protected ruler, the basileus and autocratōr Ro-
maiōn, as the only legitimate emperor and heir of Constantine the Great and
his successors. This sense of tradition and continuity of Roman political order,
Greek culture and Orthodox Christian faith permeated and defined all ex-
pressions of Byzantine life and culture, despite the changes and developments
that took place during its long history, until the fall of its capital city of Con-
stantinople in 1453.
In the apogee of its power, in the sixth century under Emperor Justinian I
(527-565), Byzantium encompassed most of the area around the Mediter-
ranean, including parts of Spain, Italy, the Balkans, Greece, Asia Minor, Syria,
Palestine, Egypt and Northern Africa. Vestiges of this civilization are present
in all these areas and especially in Greece, with its thousands of Byzantine
churches and monuments scattered all over the mainland and the islands.
Many of these monuments are enlisted in the World Heritage Sites of UN-
ESCO, placed under the protection of the United Nations to secure their
preservation for future generations.
The Byzantine world was primarily a Christian world. Byzantine life was cen-
tred around the church. There in an atmosphere of piety and mystical unity,
clergy and congregation, together with the invisible celestial world, formed the
Church, the Body of Christ, and celebrated the holy liturgy, partaking in the holy
sacraments, through which the faithful were bestowed the divine graces of the
Holy Spirit. The church building, be it a small chapel, the Catholicon of a
monastery or a large church, is a symbol of this unity and transcendence beyond
the visible world, embracing the essence of Byzantine spirituality.
Text by Charalambos Dendrinos
This is a map from the time of Justinian I reign, when Byzan-
tium expanded to Spain, NorthAfrica, Italy conquering the Van-
dals and Goths and the Western Roman Empire. In 540
outspread of bubonic plague and severe climate conditions
slowed down Justinian’s expansion.
St Vitale and St Apollinare, Ravenna, mosaic, Justinian I court, 6thC.
The illustrations displayed in this exhibition reflect aspects of Byzantine civi-
lization. Heir to the Graeco-Roman world, Byzantium survived the various po-
litical changes brought about by migrations, both in the East and West, to emerge
as a centralized state with its capital in Constantinople, founded by Constantine
the Great in 325. The toleration of the Christians and the official adoption of
Christianity changed not only its own ethos, but the course of European history.
Geographically mid-way between the Danube and the Euphrates, Constantino-
ple stood at the cross-roads between East and West, North and South. Possess-
ing the richest areas, in particular Asia Minor after the loss of Egypt, it provided
favourable conditions for agriculture, commerce, industry and culture. It re-
ceived, and in turn emanated, influences throughout its existence. Given its life-
span of over a thousand years, like any other living organism, the Byzantine
Empire went through periods of growth, contraction and decline, closing its long
history in 1453 with the capture of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks.
The net-work of roads, built for the movement of troops, and the sea routes con-
nected Constantinople both with the West and East through the Adriatic, the
Aegean, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. In addition, its access to the Silk
Route not only facilitated commerce with the movement of people and goods,
but also the exchange of artistic influences and ideas which in turn were adapted
or developed in conformity with their own perceptions. The various items in this
exhibition reflect this industrial, commercial and artistic activity of the Byzan-
The establishment of Constantinople as a capital inevitably initiated a period of
monumental building, and for this purpose quarries for the extraction of stone
and marble for the erection of edifices and various architectural and decorative
elements, including mosaic floors, were mined in Greece, the Aegean islands
and Western Anatolia, though alabaster, green and red porphyry, employed in the
early period, came from Egypt.
TRADE AND COMMERCE
Pilgrim tokens; terracotta, Palestine 6th-7thC.
(The British Museum)
Muse Silver casket; Rome
330-370 (The British Museum)
Glass – bottles;
Syria, Levant, Asia circa
450-625 (The British
Jewellery - Filigree necklace, gold, Breast-chain;
7thC. (early) (The British Museum)
Jewellery - Crucifix,
Reliquary cross- enamel and
Turkey 11thC. (early)
(The British Museum)
Mining was another enterprise. Iron for example, used for the manufacture of weapons and various im-
plements and tools, came from all over the Empire. The regions of Sinope and Trebizond were partic-
ularly important for the extraction of this ore, which was also imported from Syria and the Balkans.
Similarly, a type of lead came from Dalmatia or Syria. Other commodities were also imported: papyrus
from Egypt, ivory from Africa or India, either as manufactured objects or raw material to be carved in
the ateliers of Constantinople for the production of reliquaries, triptychs and caskets, such as the Veroli
casket, now preserved in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Of the precious metals the most widely used was gold. Together with silver and copper it formed the
coinage of the Empire. The provenance of this gold is not clear, but it seems that as early as the sixth
century there must have been a high demand for it, for the gold mines of Armenia to become a factor
in the wars against Persia, according to the contemporary historian Prokopios (Wars I, xv, 29-30). Gold
was also used for liturgical vessels, for church and palace decoration, icons and book illumination but
also for imperial ritual: plate, jewellery, gilded furniture and the famous gilded bronze automata sur-
rounding the imperial throne in the shape of trees, twittering birds and lions ‘who beat the ground with
their tails and gave a dreadful roar with open mouth and quivering tongue’(Liutprand of Cremona, An-
tapodosis, ch. 5). Gold was also used in the production of mosaic tesserae, which became the par ex-
cellence medium for decorating the walls of churches.
Silver, the second most prized metal, was also used for a variety of purposes, from liturgical vessels and
fine silver crosses to household implements and jewellery, employing different decorative techniques,
such as repoussé, cloisonné, chasing, carving or gilding, as specimens in this exhibition illustrate. Some
of these techniques derived from time immemorial, as the description of Hephaestus’ workmanship of
Achilles’ shield in the Iliad (18. 474-80) indicates.
One of the commodities which had a variety of functions was pottery, ranging from tiles to kitchenware,
tableware, amphorae and lamps. Kilns were found all over the empire, but there is also evidence to
suggest that these wares were shipped to various parts of the empire. Their style and designs, some
very fine, varied from period to period. Related to the usages of pottery was glass, though so far it is
not known whether it was considered a luxury product. However, glass factories have been discovered
not only along the Syrian coast, Egypt, Palestine but also in Constantinople. Apart from glass tiles and
a variety of receptacles for mass production, there were also wares of high artistic quality, such as cups,
goblets or lamps decorated in relief. Glass, as mentioned above, was also used in the manufacturing of
tesserae used in mosaics. These varied in colour and size, and could be as small as 4 mm square, and
even smaller in portative mosaics.
Enamels were another commodity for which glass was used. The process involved the use of gold and
coloured glass — a technique in which both Byzantine and Georgian craftsmen excelled, and whose
combined work survived in some icons, such as the Khakhuli icon now in the Tbilisi Museum. For
the production of high quality enamel jewellery, it was essential to combine the expertise of glass-
workers, goldsmiths and jewellers — a technique used also in the production of icons and luxurious
The commodity used for the production of books in the early period was papyrus imported from Egypt,
as mentioned above. Its use seems to have lasted well into the eleventh century along with that of parch-
ment. However, by mid-eighth century the Chinese invention of paper was adopted by the Arabs, and
it spread along the Mediterranean from Syria, Egypt to Spain and by the thirteenth it began to be man-
ufactured in Italy. It is assumed that paper was introduced into Byzantium by the tenth century, which
led to the establishment of paper makers. However, for the production of sumptuous volumes, or for
works treasured for their content parchment continued to be used.
Ivory – Pyxis – with shepherds and
musicians; 4thC. (The British
Enamel Medallion Reliquary,
Thessaloniki, Greece, 13thC.
(The British Museum)
Lycurgus Cup – glass, 4thC.
(The British Museum)
The quality of workmanship of all these different commodities, ranging from metallurgy to silk was
strictly controlled by imperial legislation and the guilds, whose regulations are enshrined in the Book
of the Eparch dating from the tenth century. These detailed regulations monitored production and
discouraged the export of certain items, including the manufacturing expertise. One such commod-
ity was silk. Its introduction into Byzantium not only highlights the significance of international com-
munications which enhanced trade, but also the exchange of cultural ideas and the influence these
exercised on the development of a society. It wasAlexander the Great’s expansion that seems to have
opened up the silk route between East and West. The importation of raw silk and silk yarns were im-
ported into the Roman Empire, and despite the exorbitant price they commanded, the use of silk
clothes reached their height in the first century of the Christian era. The fine transparent silk dresses
‘if dresses they can be called … which could neither cover the body, nor protect decency of a woman’,
did not always meet with the approval of gentlemen, like Seneca the Younger (De beneficiis, Bk.
VII, 9, 5). Despite these strictures silk continued to be imported through Persia which controlled its
price.According to Cosmas Indicopleustes, theAlexandrian merchant (1st half of 6th c.), there were
two routes, one from the Persian frontier through the steppes of Central Asia to China, the other by
sea from China to Ceylon, then through the Red Sea to Ethiopia, and then to Syria or Egypt.
It was during the reign of Justinian I (518-65) in an effort to put an end to the Persian monopoly,
according to the historian Procopius (Wars VIII, xvii, 1-7), that eggs of silkworms were first intro-
duced from China into the Empire. Modern historians, however, believe that production of silk had
already begun in Syria in the fifth century, and that the development of sericulture expanded intoAsia
Minor, with the cultivation of mulberry bushes on which silkworms feed, between the sixth and the
seventh century. It was from this period onwards that Constantinople developed into a major centre
of silk production. Its workshops were found in the Peloponnese, Corinth,Athens and Thessalonike.
Byzantium maintained its silk manufacturing monopoly until the mid-twelfth century, when the
Normans of Sicily under Roger II devastated central Greece and carried off its silk weavers from
Corinth and Thebes to establish their own silk industry in Sicily.
The various motifs on silks as well as cotton and woollen tapestries and other textiles reflect the early
Persian, Syrian and Egyptian influences until the emergence of a full Byzantine style. Like other
commodities, as mentioned above, but even more so, silk was strictly controlled both by the State
and the guilds in all stages of production so that its quality could be guaranteed. These ranged from
purchasing the cocoons and going through the various processes to producing the different types of
silk yarn, employing different techniques of weaving and dyeing; hence, the variety of specialized
skilled workers within workshops: weavers, dyers, and pattern makers. Of the silk produced only a
small portion was destined for private consumption, and certainly not the quality and the types of
silk produced in the state workshops for the use of court and ecclesiastical vestments. The purple-
dyed silk was reserved for the imperial family and their close entourage for the palace ceremonial.
Silks were also presented or sent abroad as official imperial gifts as part of diplomacy. Consequently,
the quality of the silk had to suit the status of the recipient.
Few extant Byzantine silk specimens survive today, preserved mainly in church treasuries in Europe.
Some of these examples give us an impression of the imperial workmanship with their complex de-
signs depicting chariots, galloping horses, eagles and lion hunts. But what ultimately conveys the
exquisite artistic quality of these silks are the manuscript illuminations, and above all the mosaics
that depict the complexity of patterns and colours crafted into an object of beauty.
The photographic specimens of this exhibition give us a glimpse of this sophisticated and cultured
society that in many respects not only enriched but left its mark on our common European heritage.
Text by Professor Julian Chrysostomides
ChurchRobes, silk, Treasure of Santiago de
Compostela, Spain, 16C.
Christian church robe, silk, Isfahan,
13C., Victoria and Albert Museum, London
THE SILK ROAD
The silk trade dates back as early as 753 BCE, when the Egyptians, and after
them the Romans, bought this lavish, expensive and mysterious cloth from
China, opening the road for one of the most lucrative commerces of all time.
The old caravan trade route started from the ancient Chinese city of Xi’an,
the first capital of the Qin Dynasty, and went through Central Asia to the
Mediterranean. Xi’an also became famous for the Emperor’s Qin Shi Huang
tomb with its Terracotta Army (3rd century BCE). The other route was from
China’s city Kashgar, through Peshawar, Afghanistan to Persia. The sea route
was a third way to reach the West through Ceylon, India, Persia and the Red
Sea to Alexandria.
Silk has always been regarded as a luxurious commodity, often valued as
high as gold, or even higher. Merchants and traders from China, Central Asia
and India used to bring silk to Mediterranean ports through their middlemen,
so their journey was broken up into stages from one post to another. Until the
6th century, one of the biggest buyers were the Byzantines, who never actu-
ally reached China and Central Asia directly, but had to accept Persia, most
of the time an enemy country, as their main negotiating partner with the East.
The Northern route was expensive because of many middlemen, local tribes
carrying merchandise for some distance and charging their fees. All mid-
dlemen jealously kept the geography of their caravan routes secret, espe-
cially those crossing deserts and difficult mountain terrains, in order to
protect their business.
The main destination of Silk Road merchandise was Constantinople via Anatolia or the Black Sea, bridging Europe and Asia not only through
trade but through culture, art and tradition. The main goods transported from Asia via the Silk Road were silk cloth, spices, medicinal plants,
dyes, precious stones, porcelain, ceramics, paper and other small luxury items. The main goods from Europe to China going back along the
Silk Road were goods such as wool, linen, olive oil, olives, wine, dried fruits and nuts and other agricultural products, but later also luxury
and artistic merchandise from Byzantium and Italy.
Travelling musicians caravan
oncamel, China. glazed
During the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I, in 533-534 CE, the most mysterious se-
cret in the world, the production of silk, was revealed to the Empire by monks who suc-
cessfully smuggled silk moth eggs (cocoons) and learnt the technology of growing the
insects on mulberry tree leaves and making the silk. Constantinople became the main city
of the Empire where silk was produced, and Justinian and succeeding Emperors kept the se-
cret of their silk-making under the threat of death. Selling silk to foreign countries was
strongly restricted to small quantities sold to Muslim countries, and the second grade silk
to Venetians and other privileged Italian merchants to resell silk in Pavia. Byzantines used
silk for their own needs, especially for the court’s, imperial family’s and courtiers’ dress,
church robes, hangings, furnishings, curtains, and also imperial gifts, which was an impor-
tant aspect of their foreign policy.
The silk industry, once established, became a great part of the Byzantine economy. Silk
moths were cultivated in Syria, Asia Minor, southern Greece and Southern Italy and silk-
weaving spread to the Peloponese, Athens and Thessalonica after the 10th century. The silk
workshops in Constantinople were highly specialized and their members were organised in
guilds. Western Europe imported silk mainly from the Orient, but in the early 11th and 12th
centuries, Arabs brought the technology of silk-making to Spain and Sicily (Muslim), and,
by the 13th century, silk was woven in Lucca and Bologna where the first silk-throwing
machine was recorded in 1272.
Apart from silk, trade with spices, medicinal plants and perfumes was lucrative too. Until
the 7th century some of the spices were produced in the Byzantine outreach: Egypt and
Western Mediterranean, such as mastic, saffron, cinnamon, but the most valuable, exotic and
expensive were those coming from Asia and Africa, such as pepper, ginger, cloves, nutmeg,
etc. The main trading posts for spices were Trebizond, Constantinople and Alexandria.
The "Silk Road" was a trade route along
which transportation of silk and spice
from China and Central Asia reached Eu-
rope and also had cultural and communi-
cation relevance, as it provided a forum
where people exchanged ideas, informa-
tion and knowledge.
Classe port, Ravenna, mosaic, 6thC.
Bellini, St Lorenzo Bridge, Venice, Oil painting 16thC. Istanbul, Minarets
Theodora’a, St Vitale and St Apollinare,
Ravenna mosaic 6thC.
Turkey was a centre for cultural and commercial ex-
change and the gateway to both the East and the West.
Even before the fall of Constantinople, Seljuks estab-
lished trade routes through Anatolia and Levant with
Since ancient times, the Silk road was a regularly
maintained network of roads and highways, which as-
sured swift and safe travel - whether it was a caravan
loaded with precious goods or a military expedition
sent to go on a conquest or punishment mission. By
the 13th century, the ruling Seljuks realised the value
of the Silk Road trade to the economy. They encour-
aged it by cutting customs duties and established an
insurance scheme to safeguard commerce.
It was also during Seljuk rule that a chain of cara-
vanserais were built across Turkey at a distance of a
day's trek, 30-40 km, providing accommodation and
safety for travelling merchants. These days, some 200
caravanserais survive in Anatolia, some of which have
been restored for present-day use, for tourists, the new
Silk Road travellers.
In order to keep the trade continuous on the part of the
Silk Road which went through Anatolia, the Seljuks
made contracts with foreign states guaranteeing to
protect their merchants, travellers and state missions
or armies by providing safe passage and hospitality
along the route. The travellers could stay up to three
days in the caravanserais and inns and all their neces-
sities were provided. The caravanserais accepted
lodgers regardless of their religion, race or language;
they could have rest, hospital, if needed, social com-
munication and exchange of information, as well as
professional introductions. They were also provided
with ammunition for their weapons if they were part of
a military campaign, and their animals and merchan-
dise were taken care of on the expense of the founda-
tion. The Seljuks were the first to provide state
insurance and to stimulate trade for the benefit of all
Selimye Mosque, Istanbul, 16thC.
The Blue Mosque, Istanbul, 16thC.
Jesus Pantocrator, St Sophia,
Istanbul, misaic, 6thC.
There were many towns which had great im-
portance for both Byzantine and Turkish mer-
chants and they developed them with interest
in order to boost commerce.
Nevsehir is an old Silk Road junction and the
gateway to Cappadocia, where volcanic ac-
tivity coupled with erosion has created a spec-
tacular and multicoloured landscape of rock
cones, capped pinnacles and fretted ravines.
There are many existing caravanserais,
mosques and Byzantine monasteries which
are of historic interest.
Konya was another key Silk Road junction. It
became the Seljuk capital, as well as an im-
portant cultural and trading centre. It had a
number of caravanserais built by both the
Seljuks and the Ottomans, designed by the fa-
mous architect Sinan. There is also a tomb of
the great sufi poet Jal’al Udin Rumi.
The Port City of Antalya on the Mediter-
ranean was once a destination for Silk Road
goods being shipped by sea to be distributed
Denizli was a strategic city in western Turkey.
The Silk Road passed through here to the port
of Izmir from Konya and Antalya. Nearby
was Ephesus, with extensive classical ruins.
There were also a handful of fascinating re-
stored caravanerais nearby.
Istanbul, one of the most exciting and colour-
ful cities in the world, was the capital of the
Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. Full of rich
museums and monuments, Istanbul's role as a
bridge between the East and West is perhaps
best appreciated in its marvellous covered
Trabzon was, and still is, a Black Sea port and
ancient trading centre.
Hatay, the ancient Antioch, was the former
centre of Christianity. Bursa is a traditional
silk industry site, one of the most important
cities from the Byzantine and Ottoman time.
Grand Bazaar, Istanbul
The spice market, Istanbul
Dancing dervishes, spiritual sufi tradition
and an old way of entertaining
Syria was a cradle of civilizations and religions, and with its
ideal geographical position, had a great impact on the an-
Trade caravans starting from China (Far East), crossing Asia
and reaching Palmyra used to interact with maritime cara-
vans coming from Japan heading to the Arab Gulf and the
Euphrates River. Many different nations joined the caravans
bringing along their many traditions and cultures. Caravans
from Palmyra headed towards Aleppo to meet with Euro-
pean caravans, then went on towards Latakia and Tartus to
meet European maritime caravans coming across the
Mediterranean Sea. They then went towards Damascus to
meet with caravans coming from Palestine, Egypt, and the
Arab countries in North Africa. All these factors made Syria
the perfect place for global communication, exchange of cul-
tural and intellectual ideas, and a base of creativity, hospi-
tality, and generosity.
Thanks to its position at the heart of the Middle East, Syria
has an ancient and fascinating history and rich cultural her-
itage whose traces can be seen throughout the land. To start
in prehistoric times, about 3000 BCE, some of the oldest
continually inhabited cities in the world were established
(Damascus, and city-states Mari, Ugarit and Ebla along Eu-
phrates), Ancient Greek and Roman conquerors left their
buildings, early Christian culture spread across and the last
Islamic conquerors won over all other traditions and cultures
bringing a new faith, art and tradition.
The fascination of Syria also lies in the diversity of land-
scapes, from the rocky Mediterranean shores in the West,
through olive groves and mountains, valleys and plains to
the Syrian deserts of the East and the river Euphrates. Reach-
ing Syria was the delight of the old Silk Road travellers.
Syria's second city has a long history. At
the heart of the old city lies the medieval
citadel, built during Ayubid and
Mameluke times (12th and 13th cen-
turies). Inside the citadel is the Ayyubid
Palace. The Great Mosque is one of the
largest in the world, founded in the 715th
Century by the Caliph Al-Walidi. In its
outer wall rises a massive square minaret
of over 45 metres in height, a fine example of Seljuk architecture dating back
to the 11th century. The main commerce took place in the famous souks of
Aleppo, which consist of miles of covered passageways with traders selling
an incredible assortment of goods: food, spices, textiles, household goods,
leather, gold and silver.
Palmyra is located at the heart of the Syrian Desert; an oasis city that was the stronghold of the great
Arab Queen Zenobia who challenged even the power of Rome. The ruins of the ancient city cover a
huge area and are one of the world's greatest archaeological sites. One of the best preserved of the
city's monuments is the Temple of Bel, built in 32CE and dedicated to the Palmyrene supreme deity.
There is also a monumental arch and colonnaded streets along which lie Roman baths and a theatre.
Beduin from Palmyra, an old
Traditional design for carpets
The Crusaders built a string of castles in the mountains, the most famous
being Krak des Chevaliers. Another important Crusader castle is Saone or
Qalaat, which the Great Saladin named after the Arab commander who
captured the fortress in 1188. Set upon a narrow ridge between two deep
ravines, Saone is the largest of the Crusader castles, almost twice the size
of Krak, and although not so well preserved has a dramatic setting.
The two main towns on the coast are Latakia and Tartous. Syria's main
commercial port was Latakia which was established by the Seleucids in the
second century BCE. Ugarit, an archaeological site, was an important trad-
ing centre from about 3000 BCE and was where the world's first alphabet
Krak Des Chevaliers was built by the Knights Hospitallers in the 12th cen-
tury CE in order to control the mountain passes to the Holy Land. Krak was
the largest and most impressive Crusader castle in Syria. In its heyday, the
castle could house 2000 knights and its impregnable defence system con-
sisted of outer walls with a line of towers, inner walls, four gates and a se-
ries of deadly traps.
Krak survived two major Arab attacks in the late 12th century, but by the
middle of the 13th century the Crusaders' presence in the Middle East had
thinned out considerably and the castle was left with a garrison of only
200 men. In 1271 Sultan Baibars besieged the castle but never managed to
breach its inner defences. A short time afterwards the demoralised Cru-
saders surrendered Krak and within the next 20 years the Crusader pres-
ence in Syria vanished. It was also on the Silk Road route.
Damascus is considered to be one of the oldest continually in-
habited capitals in the world. Lying between the Anti-Lebanon
Mountains and the desert, it was one of the great caravan cities
and religious centres of the Middle East.
Damascus consists of two parts – the central, walled old city
and the surrounding modern town. There is the 18th century
Azem Palace, Straight Street, mentioned in the Old Testament,
the Ananais Chapel where the apostle St. Paul was given shel-
ter, and one of Islam's most magnificent monuments – the
Umayyad Mosque, completed in 715 CE. The Mosque stands
on a site that has been held sacred for almost three thousand
years, being successively used as an ancient temple, a Roman
Temple of Jupiter, a Christian Basilica and finally a Mosque
which contains the tomb of St. John the Baptist.
The old souks still possess exotic scents of spices and confec-
tionary. A short distance from Damascus are the Christian vil-
lages of Seydnaya and Maaloula where the inhabitants still
speak Aramaic, the language of Christ.
Krak de Chevalier
The Eastern Minaret of the Omayyad Mosque viewed from
The Jesus (Issa) Minaret is so-called because it was believed
that Jesus Christ, who is considered a prophet in Islam, will
reappear at this place shortly before the day of judgement. The
upper part of the Minaret that can be seen today was built in
the Ottoman period after the earthquake of 1759; the lower part
is from the Memluk period.
Source: E. Claire Grimes, A guide to Damascus, Avicenne Bookshop, 1997
Jordan is one of the early centres of civilisation, with per-
manent settlements dating back over 6500 years. Jordan’s
links to the past can be seen through some amazing sites:
Jerash in the north; a stunning Roman town with rows of ma-
jestic colonnades; and Umm Qais, founded by the Greeks
with its Byzantine Basilica Terrace. Stretching to the south is
the Kings' Highway, one of the oldest roads in the world.
Mount Nebo was the burial place of Moses; Kerak is a Cru-
sader Castle and Petra the "Rose Red City" carved directly
into a mountain of multi-coloured sandstone, once the power
base of the ancient Nabateans.
Since ancient times it was a crossroad for many traders, trav-
ellers, armies and people. Rich with different traditions and
cultures, Jordan always presented an oasis of tolerance and
respect, which was a preamble for successful economy and
trade. The Silk Road simply could not miss this land.
JORDAN Kerak Castle (1130s) is famous for being one of the most splendid Crusader cas-
tles. It lies south of Amman on the King’s Highway, a crucial trade route link-
ing Damascus with Egypt and Mecca, and at an elevation of 1000m it
commands fantastic views of the Dead Sea. On three sides there is a vertiginous
cliff that greatly aided defence.
This huge well -preserved work of art comprises a map of
the holy land including the entire region from Jordan and
Palestine in the north, to Egypt in the south. Hadrians
Petra was the capital of the ancient
Nabatean Kingdom and was an impor-
tant trading post. The Nabateans estab-
lished an elaborate network of caravan
routes, which brought spices, incense,
myrrh, gold, silver, and precious stones
from India and Arabia, to be traded
onto the west. With the wealth they ac-
quired they adorned their city with
palaces, temples, and arches.
The rock-carved city of Petra is full of
mysterious charm. The approach
through the cool gloom of the Siq, a
long narrow gorge, provides a dramatic
contrast to the magic yet to come. This
narrow gorge opens into a natural
square dominated by Petra's most fa-
mous monument, the Khazneh, more
popularly known as the Treasury, its
tall intricately carved façade glowing in
the dazzling sun.
The Nabateans made Petra their capital
more than 2000 years ago. As well as
the Treasury, some of the best sites in
Petra are the monumental tombs, high
places of sacrifice, the Theatre, Colon-
nade Street and the Byzantine church.
All have been carved deep into the rock
and remain staggeringly well pre-
In the days of Alexander the Great (332
BCE), the city grew increasingly prosperous
and important until, in 63 BCE, the Roman
emperor Pompey conquered the region. The
ancient Arabic name of Garshu was changed
to Gerasa, Jerash became part of the Roman
Empire and a member of the Decapolis.
The city's many splendid monuments still re-
tain the atmosphere of the once thriving me-
tropolis, famous in its own time for
magnificent temples, amphitheatres, and
From the buildings and the many other well-
preserved structures, it is easy to imagine the
city in its heyday: Chariots trundled down
the colonnaded streets, their wheels etching
an already well-worn groove on the road, and
the little shops that line the streets stocking
exotic goods brought in from Persia, and
Jerash, Colonade Street
Madaba is a typica East Bank town which possesses some of the most beautiful Byzantine art; un-
derneath almost every house lies a fine Byzantine mosaic. It lies in the middle of Jordan's most fer-
tile land, on the King’s Highway. Many of these mosaics have been excavated and are on display
in the town's museum, but it is estimated that many more lie hidden, waiting to be discovered. The
most important mosaic is still in its original place on the floor of the Greek Orthodox Church of
For over two and half millennia Armenians continuously
lived in the territory entitled the “Armenian Plateau” or
“Armenian Highland”, defined as the plateau surrounded
by the Eastern Pontic Range, mountains south of the Cau-
casus, northern Zagross Mountains near Lake Urmiya and
Eastern Taurus Range – south of Lake Van, an area of some
400,000 square kilometres.
Armenians converted to Christianity in 301 AD, becoming
the first officially Christian kingdom and were in constant
skirmishes with their powerful neighbours, the Persians and
the Romans. During the medieval period the Armenian
kings of Bagratuni and Artsruni dynasties ruled much of
their ancestral land, sometimes as independent kingdoms
and other times under the suzerainty of the Byzantine
and/or Persian Empires, culminating with the building of
their luxurious capital Ani, the city of one thousand
churches, situated on the border of Armenia and Turkey of
today. Later, after the invasion of the Seljuk tribes and the
Mongols, part of the population of Armenia dispersed; a
major number migrated to north-eastern corner of the
Mediterranean and established the Armenian Cilician king-
dom, which ruled until the latter part of the 14th
Another part of the population migrated to the north of the
Black Sea, founding thriving colonies of Armenian mer-
chants and tradesmen in Poland, Ukraine as well as Caffa
and Azakh (Azov). Armenian merchants of Cilicia and
Caffa quickly established commercial ties with European
port cities and were actively involved in trading with China
One of the overland Silk Roads beginning in Central Asia,
passed through territories north of the Caspian Sea and ter-
minated in the Black sea ports, where Armenian and Italian
merchants were active. The thirteenth century Armenian
map (Fig. 1) on its top left lists the cities and regions on the
Silk Road. At the top centre is the Chinese port of Zaytun,
followed by Khansai, Khorazm, Sarai (Mongol capital of
Sarai Batu), Azakh (Azov), and lastly the port city of Caffa
(Theodosia). This area was also known as “Armenia Mar-
13th C Armenian Map (Matenadaran)
Selim - Mountain pass on the Silk Road now
The caravans of the Silk Road destined for the Mediter-
ranean ports and crossing the territory of Persia had to tra-
verse the territory of Armenia, that is the Armenian
Highland, through which they reached the Cilician ports,
where for over 350 years the Armenian Cilician kings
ruled. They had very close ties with Venice and Genoa and
Cilician-Armenian trading vessels plied the waters of the
Mediterranean, taking Chinese goods to Europe and
bringing European products back for the eastern markets.
The Silk Road traversing Persia destined for the Baghdad
and surrounding markets was the part of this road that did
not have to pass over Armenian territory, while the other
two roads did cross it.
The two caravanserais shown below are located near Lake
Sevan in Armenia and date from the 13th
turies. They were built on the road connecting the north
and south Silk Roads, and constituted the principal trade
and military road connecting north and south.
St Echmiadzin Cathedral, 4th C
Entrance of Selim’s
caravanserai, 4th C
Novarank monastery, 13th C
Tatev monastery, 9th C
Another 14th C caravanserai
Khor Virap monastery, 16th C
Georgia is a country in the Caucasus,
with high mountains, alpine valleys
and subtropical forests, some of the
natural beauties and a number of im-
portant Silk Road sites. There are in-
dications that goods from as far away
as India passed through Georgia cen-
turies before there was trade from
China heading west on The Silk
Road. Archaeologists digging at bur-
ial sites in Georgia have found rem-
nants of Chinese silk from the 2nd
and 3rd centuries BCE and Georgians
began turning out their own silk from
the 5th century onwards, with pro-
duction reaching its highest levels
around the 11th century. As late as
the 17th century, Silk Road trade still
passed through Georgia and the cap-
ital Tbilisi was a major commercial
centre. Along with its Silk Road sites,
which include temples, towns,
monasteries and museums, Georgia
offered travellers its landscapes,
health spas, fine wine and cuisine,
and friendly, open people.
Sameba Church Kazbeg
The Museum Town of Mtskheta, located near Tbilisi, is one of the
world's oldest cities, founded in the second half of the 1st millen-
nium BCE. The Silk Road transversed the city, which prospered
and is presently on the list of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites.
Uplistsikhe is an entire town hewn from sandstone rock. First in-
habited in prehistoric times, the town eventually grew to include
rock homes, a theatre and several churches with architecture imi-
tating the design of ancient Georgian wooden structures.
The Temple Town of Vani in central Georgia was once a major re-
ligious centre for the Kholkhida civilisation of the 5th to 3rd cen-
turies BCE. Its buildings reflect contemporary Hellenistic
techniques. Numerous gold objects have been uncovered there,
mostly magnificent jewellery.
Gonia Fortress on the Black Sea coast is one of the country's bet-
ter preserved archaeological monuments. It is mentioned in the
Greek legend of the Argonauts and the Golden Fleece and was
known to Pliny in the 1st century CE. Through the ages it played
an important role in Georgian history.
Sioni Cathedral at the centre of Tbilisi was built from 575 to 639
CE and is the seat of the Catholic Patriarch of Georgia.
Alaverdi is another beautiful 11th-century cathedral and houses the
tombs of the Kakheti kings.
The Black Sea
Persia’s long history, tradition and heritage is known worldwide. Its culture
and art influenced the world and was copied for centuries, valued for its re-
finement and beauty. The Persians were skilled traders, particularly in the
sale of silk. They also traded carpets, jewellery, spices and porcelain, as well
as other luxury produce.
When the Silk Road was at the height of its glory, the Persians acted as mid-
dlemen in the silk trade, buying it from those who brought it from the East,
and, with suitable mark-ups, selling it on to the West. Consequently, the land
which later became Iran was a vital link in the long commercial chain which
was The Silk Road. The main route and the side routes criss-crossed the
Throughout its history, Iran has seen many conquerors who become en-
chanted at what they found and eventually succumb to the sophisticated cus-
toms and age-old traditions of this ancient land. In turn, the Persians absorbed
from newcomers their culture and tradition. This process of cultural exchange
produced stunning architecture evident in the temples and palaces of kings
who ruled empires from prehistoric times, centuries before the birth of Christ.
In the sky-blue domes of intricately decorated mosques and madrasas built
after the arrival of Islam, as well as lovely handicrafts which amazed people
in the West.
Intricate Islamic Architectural Decoration
Famous blue tilesAncient ruins in central Iran
The Parthian empire was the most enduring of the empires of the ancient Near East. After the Parni nomads had settled in Parthia and built a
small independent kingdom, they rose to power under king Mithradates the Great (171-138 BCE). The Parthian Empire occupied all of mod-
ern Iran, Iraq and Armenia, parts of Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, and for brief periods territories
in Pakistan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Palestine. Their end was in 224 CE, when the last king was defeated by one of their vassals, the Per-
sians of the Sassanid dynasty.
The Sassanids established an empire with the capital at Ctesiphon. The Sassanids had an aim to revive Iranian traditions and to reduce and
eliminate Greek cultural influence. Their rule was characterized by considerable centralization, urban planning, agricultural development and
technological improvements. Sassanid rulers adopted the title of shahanshah (king of kings), as sovereigns over numerous petty rulers, known
as shahrdars. Historians believe that the society was divided into four classes: priests, warriors, secretaries, and commoners. Sassanid rule was
reinforced by Zoroastrianism, which became the state religion with immensely powerful priests. The head of the priestly class, the mobadan
mobad, along with the military commander, the eran spahbod, and the head of the bureaucracy, were
among themost influencial men of the state. Rome, with its capital at Constantinople, had replaced
Greece as Iran's principal western enemy and hostilities between the two empires were frequent. Sas-
sanids held a monopoly in silk trade and their designs and colours dominated the Mediterranean world,
until the Byzantines started producing their own silk. The finest silk imported from China went through
Persia as their middleman.
The Beduin Arabs caused the fall of the Sassanid Empire and brought Islam to Persia. Abu Bakr, the
first caliph, began the campaign against the Byzantine and Sassanid Empires and defeated the Byzan-
tine army at Damascus in 635 after which began his conquest of Iran. In 637 the Arab forces occupied
the Sassanid capital of Ctesiphon (which they renamed Madain), and in 641-42 they defeated the Sas-
sanid army at Nahavand. The Islamic conquest followed the material and social bankruptcy of the Sas-
sanids. The Muslims offered relative religious tolerance and fair treatment to populations that accepted
Islamic rule without resistance. Conversion to Islam, which offered certain advantages, was fairly rapid among the urban population but slower
among the peasants. The majority of Iranians did not become Muslim until the ninth century.
Although the conquerors, especially the Umayyads (the Muslim rulers who succeeded Mohammad from 661-750), tended to mentain the su-
premacy of Arabs among Muslims, the Iranians were gradually integrated into the new community faith. The Muslim conquerors adopted the
Sassanid coinage system and many Sassanid administrative practices. The new state religion, Islam, imposed its own system of beliefs, laws,
and social ways of life. In regions that submitted peacefully to Muslim rule, landowners kept their land, but in the others land was confisc-
taed by the state. The Abbasids overthrew the Umayyads in 750. The Abbasids continued the centralizing policies of their predecessors.
Under their rule, the Islamic world experienced cultural expansion as well as trade and economic prosperity.
Details from the Persian arts and crafts
Iran's next ruling dynasties descended from
nomadic, Turkic-speaking warriors who had
been moving out of Central Asia into Tran-
soxiana for more than a millennium. In the
ninth century the Abbasid caliphs had these
people in their army as slave warriors.
Shortly thereafter the real power of the Ab-
basid caliphs began to wane; eventually they
became religious figureheads while the war-
rior slaves ruled. The Samanids eventually
ruled an area from central Iran to India. In
962 a Turkish slave governor of the
Samanids, Alptigin, conquered Ghazna (in
present-day Afghanistan) and established the
Ghaznavid Dynasty that lasted to 1186.
Several Samanid cities had been lost to an-
other Turkish group, the Seljuks, a clan of the
Oghoz (or Ghozz) Turks, who lived north of
the Oxus River (present-day Amu Darya).
Under Malik Shah (1072-92), Iran enjoyed a
cultural and scientific renaissance, largely at-
tributed to his brilliant Iranian vizier, Nezam
al Molk. These leaders established the obser-
vatory where Omar Khayyam did much of his
experimentation for a new calendar, and they
built religious schools in all the major towns.
They brought Abu Hamid Ghazali, one of the
greatest Islamic theologians, and other emi-
nent scholars to the Seljuk capital at Baghdad
and encouraged and supported their work.
Wood carving art
Traditional Persian interior
Persian Art Landscape with minarets
Since ancient times, Azerbaijan was known as "the land
of the sacred fire", due to natural oil and gas deposits
erupting from the earth, and as a centre of the Zoroas-
trian religion. It attracted fire worshippers from all over
the world. Baku is a fascinating city built around a bay
on the Caspian Sea, today a cosmopolitan European
town with a flavour of the East. The medieval walled
town "Icheri Sheher" contains caravanserais, mosques,
the Palace of the Shirvan Shahs and the mysterious
Maiden's Tower, symbol of Baku.
Azerbaijan has played an important role in the Great Silk
Road route for centuries. Parallel to the Silk Road, there
was another road called the Spicery’s Road, through
which other products were brought in to the West, such
as perfumes, black pepper, carnations and other eastern
spices. The whole length of the main highway extends to
more than 7000 kilometres. Azerbaijan is famous for its
diverse natural resources: oil, cotton, saffron, olive, stur-
geon and black caviar. Silk and silk clothing of Azer-
baijan are very famous too. The history of Azerbaijan
includes the oldest state in Caucasus - Manna Realm,
established by ancestors three thousand years ago.
During the existence of the Great Silk Road the country
was connected through land and sea routes with China,
Syria, India, Asia Minor, Iran, Egypt, Europe, North
Africa, the Arabic peninsula and Russia. Russian mer-
chants, such as the famousAfanasi Nikitin, used to come
here for silk and other goods and travelled further to
India. England also established new routes to India
through Azerbaijan and Russia. Azerbaijan exported oil
and carpets, raw silk and silk fibers, cotton and weapons,
dried fruits, salt, precious stones, jewels, saffron, natu-
ral dye stuff (madder), polychrome ceramic and wood
utensils, non-ferrous metals and metal products, stur-
geon and black caviar, racehorses and lignum vitae. The
country was famous for its medicinal oil called naftalan
which is unique in the world. The country imported var-
ious furs, Chinese silk and brocade, porcelain, faience,
Indian spices and perfume, and Syrian and Egyptian
House of Sheki
Three hundreds years BCE, the Parthian tribes of horsemen arrived
in Turkmenistan and establish their capital at Nisa. The Parthians’
Empire eventually encompassed much of Central Asia, and was a
power which rivaled Rome. From Nisa, the Parthians controlled
The Silk Road and oasis settlements and trading centres like the
region's harsh desert cities of Merv and Serakhs. Ruins of these
ancient sites, evacuated and studied by international teams of ar-
chaeologists, can be visited and enjoyed today. Turkmenistan later
gained fame throughout Central Asia for producing the skilled and
fierce nomadic tribesmen who rode out on raids to seize the riches
of passing caravans. These days, more benign tribal customs such
as hospitality are making Turkmenistan famous.
Elaborately woven, bright crimson carpets created by the delicate
hands of nomadic tribal women have become the artistic symbol of
Turkmenistan, a country of sweeping deserts which played a vital
role in the history of The Silk Road.
Kunya-Urgench was the capital
of old Khorezm, which in the
8th century was the largest in-
dependent Muslim state in
Central Asia. The city was also
called Gurgenj and flourished
as a stopover on The Silk Road
leading to Russia.
The Parthian Capital of Nisa dates from the 3rd
century BCE and was inhabited until the 19th
century. Diggings have revealed a grandiose ar-
chitectural complex consisting of an extensive
palace with ceremonial hall, treasure house and
Serakhs was a Silk Road oasis on the route from Nishapur in nearby Persia to Merv
and was in its heyday from the 10th to 12th centuries. Once known for its architectural
wonders, Serakhs now boasts the mausoleums ofAbul-Fazy, Yarti-Gumbez and Sheikh
traditional Turkmen Man
Merv, camel herding nomads
Mary Bazaar Gate
Mausoleum of Sultan Sanjar
Kyrgyzstan attracted Silk Road travellers
with its landscape, high forested mountains,
grassy steppes, cool climate, clear lakes and
green valleys after their exhausting and dan-
gerous desert crossings.
On this location of the main Silk Road one
can find the remains and ruins of entire
cities, trading towns and caravan sites of the
Turks, Kyrgyz, Sogdians and other ancient
travellers, as well as places linked to the
spread of Zoroastrian, Buddhist, Christian
and Muslim religions.
In addition to the Silk Road, the country
possesses stunning natural beauty. For cen-
turies, travellers have enjoyed the hospital-
ity of Kyrgyzstan's many authentic nomad
families still living in felt yurts out on the
steppes who are happy to accept guests.
Lake Issyk-Ku is one of the world's largest
bodies of fresh water located just across the
border from China. The region saw many
Silk Road activities in the past with several
old caravan crossroads nearby. Traces of
cities, temples and other structures still re-
The Talas-Chi Corridor of the Silk Road
runs for 377 kilometres and archaeological
expeditions have excavacated traces of
more than half a dozen civilisations, as well
as ruins of towns, temples, caravanserais
and mausoleums all built before the 15th
The Naryn Region, named for the south-
central city, contains the ruins of the town
of At-Bashi dating from the 8th to 14th cen-
turies. In a nearby valley is the 31-room
Tash Rabat caravanserai, probably first built
in the 10th century and now restored, where
caravans sought shelter and rest from the
dangers of the road.
The lake Issyk-Kul
The Fergana-Talas Region is an im-
portant part of the old trade route.
There are historical monuments
along the route, and paintings of the
legendary ‘Celestial Horses’ dating
back to the 2nd century BCE in a
village of Aravon.
Traditional Kyrgyz yurt
Famous Chinese “Celestial Horse”,
bronze 1st c.Han Dynasty
Ancient Afghanistan was a crossroads be-
tween Mesopotamia, and other Civiliza-
· Aryan tribes in Aryana (Ancient
· The City of Kabul is thought to have
· Rig Veda may have been created in
Afghanistan around this time.
· Evidence of early nomadic iron age in
Aq Kapruk IV.
600 BCE (There is some speculation
about this date)
· Zoroaster introduces a new religion in
(about 522 BCE) Zoroaster dies during
the nomadic invasion near Balkh.
· After conquering Persia, Afghanistan is
invaded by Alexander the Great, provok-
ing revolts. Greeks rule Bactria (Northern
170 BCE-160 BCE
· Kushan rule, under King Kanishka
· Graeco-Buddhist Gandharan culture
reaches its height. Bamiyan’s giant Bud-
dhas are built.
· Invasion of the White Huns. They de-
stroy the Buddhist culture, and leave
most of the country in ruins.
425 -550 CE
· Independent Yaftalee rule in
· Arabs introduce Islam.
· Islamic era established with the Ghaz-
navid Dynasty (962-1140) Afghanistan
becomes the center of Islamic power and
· Invasion of Afghanistan by Genghis
Khan who destroyed the irrigation sys-
tems which turned fertile soil into perma-
· Marco Polo crossed Afghan Turkistan.
· The rule of Timour-i-Lang (Tamerlane).
· Babur, founder of the Moghul dynasty
takes control of Kabul.
· Bayazid Roshan (Afghan intellectual)
revolts against the power of the Moghul
government. Roshan was killed in a bat-
tle with the Moghuls in 1579 but his
struggle for independence continued.
1708 - 1725
· Mir Wais (forerunner of Afghan inde-
pendence) makes Kandahar independent
of Safavid Persia that had ruled it since
· (April 25) Mir Mahmud, Mir Wais’ son
who conquered Persia, is mysteriously
killed after going mad. Afghans start to
lose control of Persia.
1736 - 1747
· Nadir Shah (head of Persia) occupies
southwest Afghanistan and takes Kanda-
· Nadir Shah is assassinated, and the
Afghans under the leadership of Ahmad
Shah Abdali, retake Khandahar and the
independent Afghanistan was established.
Traditional silk dresses
On the road
Larger than all Western Europe, Kazakhstan is a vast
country of steppes and mountains rich in natural
beauty. For thousands of years it was also a natural
bridge between the East and West, with a northern
part of the Silk Road running through parts of south-
ern Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan has many nationalities
and ethnic groups, all contributing to their culture. Ar-
chaeological finds from the Kazakh region, where the
northern route of the Silk Road run, show early trade
ties with Europe, China and Persia. Most of Kaza-
khstan's Silk Road sites are concentrated in an easily
reached area of the country. In the sixth-seventh cen-
turies CE, the route passing through China to the west
was going through Semirechie and southern Kaza-
khstan. The flourishing period of the Silk Road pass-
ing through Central Asia and Kazakhstan fell in the
This part of the road represents a unique complex of
historical monuments, archeology, architecture, town
planning and monumental art. Cities Otrar, Taraz,
Sairam (Ispidzhab), Turkestan (Yassy), Syab, Bal-
asagyn and others were not only shopping centres, but
also centres of science and culture.
Otrar is the birthplace of the great scientist and
philosopher of the Middle Ages Abu Nasra ibn Mo-
hammed, 870 and 950, who was known under the
name of Al Farabi. His philosophical thinking and en-
cyclopaedic knowledge had him called the Second
teacher of mankind after Aristotle. His treatise on
classification of sciences opened a way to learning for
centuries ahead. It is not without reason that all the
great scientists after him such as Avicenna, Al-Biruni,
ash-Shirazee, Makhmud Kashgari, Yusuf Ballasafuni,
Ulugbek, ibn al-Arabi considered themselves to be his
The Ancient City of Taraz is more than 2,000 years
old and over the centuries grew into a vital commer-
cial centre where gold, silver, bronze, silk, leather and
other goods were traded. Excavations have shown
Taraz' citizens enjoyed cobbled streets, plumbing sys-
tems and other luxuries. Nearby located are two UN-
ESCO-protected ancient mausoleums.
Yurts and the mountains passage
Kazakh traditonal costume
Kargaliy Gold Diadem 11C. BCE
Another ancient town on the Great Silk Road was
Turkestan, and came into being in 490 CE. The town of
Yasa had its flourishing time in the 7th century. At that
time it was motley, crowded with its abundant bazaars
and endless caravans. Fame of the town spread all over
the Muslim world. To a certain extent, it was due to the
name of Hodja Ahmed ibn Ibragim al Yasavi, a dervish,
an advocate of Sufism, and the founder of an ascetic
brotherhood Yasavia who wrote verses in the language of
ordinary people. His poems became very popular; his ar-
dent sermons attracted a big number of pilgrims. It was
at that time that Yasa was called "a second Mecca".
Sufi is a religious teaching that combined orthodox Islam
and popular beliefs. By his private life and with the help
of simple easily understood language, Hodja Ahmed
Yasavi called upon people to be kind, meek, and obedi-
ent and not to be greedy. Ahmed Yasavi's fame did not
dwindle after his death. Thousands of pilgrims thronged
to his grave. The first mausoleum built over the sheikh's
grave was very modest and became dilapidated as time
passed. A new mausoleum was erected 233 years after
his death by Temur's order. Ahmed Yasavi's mausoleum
has now been restored to its original appearance.
Ancient cities of Uzbekistan, Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, Shakhrisabz and
Tashkent, were located on the Silk Road, the trading route between China
and the West. The route took its name from silk, which was the most sought-
after commodity in Europe imported from China during the Roman and
Byzantine period. Some of the most influential and savage conquerors came
and ruled these lands.Alexander the Great conquered Sogdiana and Bactria
in 327 BCE, marrying Roxana, daughter of a local Bactrian chieftain and set
up at least 8 cities in Central Asia between 334 - 323 BCE. The caravans
began travelling through the Silk Road after 138 BCE, when China opened
its border to trade. For many centuries the region of Uzbekistan was ruled
by the Iranian Parthian and Sassanid Empires.
Between 484 - 1150 Huns, Turks and Arabs came from the west and
brought with them a new religion of Islam, where fire-worship, Bud-
dhism, Judaism and Christianity already existed. Since then, Islam has
dominated far beyond this region and became an extremely important part
of its culture. Many mosques and Madrassahs were built in Uzbekistan
cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva during this period, including re-
maining structures of the Samanids. Most of the cities were destroyed
during the invasion of the Genghis Khan in 1220. Later, Timur, also
known as Tamerlane, overpowered the Mongols and built an empire, res-
urrecting once famous cities by using the labour of slaves and artists cap-
tured during successful campaigns. Timur conquered Persia, captured
Baghdad, and lead expeditions to Anatolia and India. Most of the archi-
tecture in Samarkand was built by Timur and his grandson Ulugbek.
Mawarannahr was one of the most advanced caliphate regions playing a
significant role in social and cultural life. The new free-thinking Islamic
religious movements Mutaziliya, Ismailiya and Sufism appeared. The
towns of Bukhara, Samarkand, Merv, Urgench and Khiva became widely
popular in Muslim countries. Crafts, architecture and construction pro-
gressed rapidly. At the beginning of the 11th century under the direction
of Mamun Khorezm-Shakh, a new research center, the first academy in
Central Asia, was founded in Khorezm, where leading oriental scientists
Especially during the reign of Ulugbek, culture reached its peak and the
towns of Mawarannahr and Khorasan were acknowledged worldwide -
this was at the end of the second half of Central Asian Renaissance. The
great philosophers: Ulugbek, Kozizada Rumi, Ali Kushchi, Mirsharif
Djurjani, Djami, Khoja Akhrar, Luhtfiy, Khondamihr, Bekzod, Babur and
many others lived there, globally recognized. Alisher Navoi lived during
the 15th century and created his immortal masterpieces. Timurid Ulugbek
built a scientific center in Samarkand, known as The Ulugbek Academy.
Khazarat Imam, Tashkent
Samarkand - the Capital of Tamerlane
Samarkand is about 2,500 years old and has a long history of upheavals during the times of Alexan-
der the Great, the Arabic Conquest, Genghis-Khan Conquest and lastly Tamerlane's. The conquerors
and those who passed through the city brought to Samarkand diversity of cultures, which developed
and mixed together with the Iranian, Indian, Mongolian and a bit of the Western and Eastern civi-
lizations. The majestic and beautiful city of Samarkand has a marvelous and attractive power. Poets
and historians of the past called it the "Rome of the East, The beauty of sublunary countries, The
pearl of the Eastern Moslem World". Its advantageous geographical position in Zarafshan valley
placed Samarkand first among the cities of Central Asia.
Khiva - the City
Khorezm - Khiva is more than
2500 years old. One hundred years
before the Great Silk Road ap-
peared, ancient Khorezm had had
links with Europe and the East,
with Siberia and southern civiliza-
tions. It is a cradle of three civi-
lizations formed in Uzbekistan.
The Khorezm Khanate was very
famous in the fourth century BCE.
It was a very powerful state. The
fairytale-like city of Khiva has
managed to retain its exotic image
of an Oriental town in the older
part of the city called Ichon-Qala.
Ichon-Qala is the epitome of sim-
plicity and monumentality of me-
dieval architectural forms, the
delicacy of woodcarvings, and
skilled interweaving of ornamen-
tation. The city is surrounded by
the fortress's powerful clay built
walls, a typical Central Asian feu-
The Tillya Kari (coated by gold)
madrassah’s dome, built 1646-1660,
Interior of Tillya Kari madrassah
Bukhara the Holy City
Bukhara is one of the most ancient cities of Uzbekistan, situated on
a sacred hill, a place where sacrifices were made by fire-worshippers
in springtime. This city was mentioned in a holy book "Avesto".
Bukhara city is founded in the 13th century BCE during the reign of
Siyavushids who came to power 980 years before Alexander the
Great. The name of Bukhara originates from the word "vihara" which
means "monastery" in Sanskrit. The city was once a large commer-
cial center on the Great Silk Road. Bukhara lies west of Samarkand
and was once a centre of learning renowned throughout the Islamic
world. It was here that the great Sheikh Bahautdin Nakshbandi lived.
He was a central figure in the development of the mystical Sufi ap-
proach to philosophy, religion and Islam. In Bukhara there are more
than 350 mosques and 100 religious colleges. It became one of the
great Central Asian Khanates in the 17th century.
Ancient textile, embroidery, ceramics and modern bazaar
Interior of the Museum of Applied Arts
Abu Ali ibn-Sina (Avicenna) was born in 980-th year in the settlement Af-
shana near Bukhara to the family of a financial official. He arrived as a child with his
father in Bukhara. He familiarized himself with the Koran in his very early days, and
studied to the same depth Greek philosophy, geometry and Indian calculation. Ibn-Sina's
scientific interests evolved in two directions: in medicine and philosophy. By the age of
seventeen he became a fully developed scholar and had great prestige as a physician.
After the overthrow of the Samanids and the capture of Buhkara by the Karakhanids (in
992 and 999 years) Ibn-Sina went to Urgench, where prominent scholars lived. At that
time in Khorezm there ruled Abui-Abbas Mamun (999-1016 years) who patronized
scholars, poets and painters.
Ibn-Sina's philosophy expounded in the "Kitab ash-Shifa" ("The book of healing") is a
whole epoch in the history of oriental philosophy. However, it is his classic consolidated
work on medicine that has created him a world reputation, "Kitab al-Kanun fit-Tib" (The
canon of medical science). The translation of this work into the Latin language was made
at the end of the 15th century. In 1593, its Arabic original was published in Rome, which
was then used to be published many times up to 17th century and became one of the most
popular works on medicine in the West. Western medicine was directly impacted by the
Canon. There are many legends concerning Ibn-Sina's medical skill. One of them tells
that after his death, he left his apprentice forty ampoules and ordered him to perform on
him daily infusions of one ampoule per day for forty days. When the apprentice infused
the 39th ampoule, he saw that his teacher’s cheeks blushed pink, lips turned crimson, hair
and moustache blackened and looked like he was on the verge of opening his eyes at any
moment. The apprentice got so agitated in the expectation of the resurrection that he
dropped the last fortieth ampoule, smashing it.German Kircha (Protestant Church) Tashkent
Mausoleum of Samanids
Suzanne, traditional embroirdery from the
Sitorai-Mokhi-Khosa museum, Bukhara
At the end of the 19th century the art of em-
broidery was wide spread in Uzbekistan.
Almost every woman knew how to embroi-
der.As part of dowries embroidered articles
were made for weddings and decorated the
rooms of the just-married. The name is de-
rived from the Tadjik word meaning "nee-
dle". Suzanne is a decorative piece of
embroidered cloth, usually used for wall
hangings. The biggest Suzannes are 2-3 me-
tres long and up to 2 metres wide.
The Mongols reached Europe in 1221. Their force was a detachment of the
great army of Chinggis Qan (Genghis Khan). He was leading a military cam-
paign through Central Asia, Eastern Iran, Afghanistan, and into India. The
detachment crossed northern Iran, spent winters in Azerbaijan (1220-21)
and Crimea, passed the Caucasus mountains, explored the Volga region, and
returned to Mongolia; it fought winning battles all along the way, including
one against an alliance of Turkic Cuman nomads and Russians. In 1236-42
the Mongols returned, but with experience from their previous expedition:
that the steppe extended into the North Pontic region (Ukraine and Crimea),
that their armies could therefore sustain themselves all the way - the horses
eating grass and the soldiers eating horses - and that the local inhabitants
were incapable of serious resistance. This time the Mongols came in great
force, with at least twelve tümens (divisions of 10 000 men). They defeated
the Cumans, Russians and Hungarians, and a large army of Germans and
Poles. They based a large army in Ukraine and on the Volga, and conjoined
to it further forces in North Central Asia (approximately Kazakhstan), cre-
ating the sub-realm of the empire that came to be known in the West as the
They came on to the borders of the European Crusaders on the Levant coast
and in Iran and Anatolia. In 1256, these Mongols were heavily reinforced by
contingents sent to exterminate the Assassins, subjugate or destroy the
Caliphate in Iraq, and extend the empire to the southwest.Although Syria and
Egypt were successfully defended by the Mamluks, theAssassins were wiped
out, as was the Caliph of Baghdad and the city was wrecked. The consequence
was that much of commerce shifted north to Tabriz and Trebizond.
Chinggis Qan's project of world-conquest developed from his understanding
of nomad society and culture, and appraisal of the balance of power at the
start of the thirteenth century. Nomad societies were warrior societies, with
abundant manpower available for military undertakings.
Chinggis Qan invited all to participate in the greatest military undertaking
of all time.
"This is the order of the everlasting God. 'In Heaven there is only one eter-
nal God; on earth there is only one lord, Chinggis Qan. This is the word of
the son of God [Chinggis]...which is addressed to you. Whosoever we are,
whether Mongol or Naiman or Merkit or Muslim, and wherever ear is ca-
pable of hearing, and wherever a horse is able to tread, there make it heard
and understood." (Letter of Möngke Qan to King ["Saint"] Louis IX of
France, in Rubruck, 202)
Caravan and horses
Yurt with traditional blue ribbon
As in time of Chingis Khan
Mongols had different armies, consisting of vassals, conscripts and
conquered forces. Through the reign of Möngke Qan, (1251-59), all
of these forces, from the Ukraine to Manchuria, were controlled
from the Qan's camp, usually somewhere in Mongolia, via the yam
service, the Mongol pony-express, which connected all of them, and
passed, in part, along the Silk Road. Pony-express was the most ef-
ficient and speedy method of communication between the Mongols,
so the Great Khan knew what was going on around his vast territo-
ries in the shortest possible time and could send his orders back in
the same way. Ponies were travelling long distances and were re-
placed along the silk road with fresh ponies and the new riders.
In order to obtain information about countries which they did not
reach, the Mongol leadership undertook exploratory expeditions or
interrogated prisoners, and questioned travellers like Rubruck and
merchants like Marco Polo.
"When Messer Niccolo [Polo] and Messer Maffeo [Polo] arrived at
the court of [Qubilai Qan] he received them honourably and wel-
comed them with lavish hospitality and was altogether delighted
that they had come. He asked them many questions: first about the
Emperors, the government of their dominions, and the maintenance
of justice; then about kings, princes, and other nobles. Next, he
asked about the Lord Pope, and all the practices of the Roman
Church and the customs of the Latins. And Messer Niccolo and
Messer Maffeo told him all the truth about each matter..." (Marco
Mongol elite enjoyed wealth and luxury obtained through their mil-
itary conquest and lootings, in opposition to their initially simple
way of life. More successfully, the Mongol dynastic and military
elite provided themselves with the best of everything. They also en-
joyed many lavish parties, wearing robes of cloth-of-gold (nasij).
Qubilai entertained at festivals for the New Year and for each of the
thirteen lunar months, on assorted "festive occasions," and on birth-
days. Cloth-of-gold served not only as clothing, but for bed covers,
animal-caparisons, and draperies. They enjoyed silk but they also
started thinking of producing it and trading with it; this is in turn
brought helpful income to their Empire. In order to increase the vol-
ume of silk production, and to develop new silk products, they
brought Chinese weavers to Samarkand to collaborate with local
Muslim weavers, and Muslim weavers who were specialists in
cloth-of-gold were brought to China. These close and frequent con-
tacts with the Mongols revealed a new world to the Europeans too.
After the death of Möngke Qan in 1259, imperial unity had been
lost. Direct European contact with China thereafter became impos-
sible after the collapse of the Mongols Empire.
Text is based on the article “Mongols” by John Masson Smith, Jr. (Berkeley)
The Middle Eastern branch
of the Road closed, and
with that, European access
to its desert route. The Silk
Road was disturbed and un-
safe and the only branch
that remained open was the
one via the Golden Horde
(Tana to Urgench and on
East), until 1368 when the
Yuan dynasty Mongols
abandoned China in the
face of the Ming rebellion.
Direct European contact
with China thereafter be-
came impossible, after the
collapse of the Mongols
Making a yurt
Temple built in
The Silk Road began in ancient time connecting China
with the other countries in the west. The Chinese were
the first to discover silk, cultivating it for commercial
purposes and sent out emissaries to the West, whose
missions eventually led to the booming exports of the
The first person to ever travel The Silk Road was prob-
ably Chinese. Zhang Qian set out west in the 2nd cen-
tury BCE to seek allies against the troublesome Huns.
After a series of adventures, Zhang returned home13
years later, full of information about kingdoms and peo-
ples from far away.
Historians say the Chinese portion of The Silk Road,
which ran for 4,000 kilometres, began in Chang'an (pre-
sent-day Xian) and divided into at least two separate
routes to avoid the deadly Takla Makan Desert, then
passed through Kashgar and on to Samarkand. During
the 2,000 years of Silk Road trade, the Chinese built
cities and religious shrines, created artefacts and estab-
lished colourful ethnic customs which can still be en-
Xian glazed pottery
Model of the cart carrying goods on the Silk Road
Camel caravan with musicians - themed the Silk Road, Xian museum
Painted pottery figures Xian museum
Silk is made from the cocoons of silkworms. People
have to take millions of these cocoons and unwind them
carefully, and that makes long threads like spider webs,
which are spun together to make them thicker, and then
woven to make silk.
Silkworms will only eat fresh mulberry leaves, and for
a long time mulberry trees only grew in China and Japan
(and East Asia generally), and so all silk that people had
in West Asia or in the Mediterranean or Europe had to
be brought from East Asia.
Traders probably began to bring silk from East Asia to
West Asia around 2000 BCE. By the time of the Roman
and Parthian Empires, silk was very popular in West
Asia and around the Mediterranean where a lot of silk
was imported and was very expensive. Ordinary people
could not afford to wear silk. It was very pretty, smooth,
shiny and soft, and comfortable to wear. Also it was
cooler in the summertime than wool or linen.
When the Islamic Empire took over Syria around 700
CE, it also took over the silk business. Because of this,
silk was generally much cheaper and more available in
the Islamic Empire than it was in medieval Europe.
Silkworms and Cocoons
Chinese legend tells how silk was dis-
covered almost 5,000 years ago by Xil-
ing Shi, the wife of the semi-mythical
emperor Huanghi. Walking in the gar-
den, the empress plucked a cocoon from
a mulberry tree. The cocoon fell by ac-
cident into her cup of tea and she
watched as a strong white thread unrav-
eled. However it was discovered, the
potential for such a thread was first re-
alized in China, where silk fabric was
being produced by 3000 BCE. A silk in-
dustry had developed there by the 14th-
Silk had been a kind of currency in China, a tool of its diplo-
macy, and the basis of its international trade over the aptly
named Silk Road.
Silk merchants, wall painting Xian
Mulberry leaves and the
silkworm and butterfly
Making of silk
3000 BCE Silk first produced in China.
1500 BCE Semi-nomadic stockbreeding
tribes inhabit steppes.
753 BCE Rome founded.
500 BCE Chinese adopt nomadic style,
wear trousers and ride horses.
551 - 479 BCE Confucius born in China.
400 BCE Greek culture spread into Central
300 BCE Roman expansion begins.
Qin dynasty unites the whole of China for
the first time.
Qin Great Wall completed.
Han dynasty overthrows the Qin and devel-
ops its vast empire.
Buddhism begins to spread north.
Paper first made in China.
200 BCE The Xiongnu (Huns) rise to power
in Central Asia and invade Chinese western
Zhang Qian travels the Western Regions and
opens the route west.
100 BCE Rome becomes an empire.
1 CE Silk first seen in Rome.
Buddhism begins to spread from India into
Xiongnu controls the Tarim region.
Christianity begins to spread in the world.
General Ban Chao of the Han dynasty de-
feats Xiongnu and keeps the peace in the
The first attempt from China to Rome fails.
100 CE Roman empire at its largest.
The first Roman envoy arrives in China.
Buddhism reaches China.
200 CE Han dynasty falls and the China
300 CE Skill of sericulture begins to spread
west along the Silk Road.
Xiongnu invades China and China further
dissolved into fragments.
500 CE Silkworm breeding appears in Eu-
Nestorian Christians reach China.
Sui dynasty reunites China.
600 CE Tang dynasty rules in China.
The Silk Road reaches its golden age.
Xuan Zang's pilgrimage to India.
700 CE Tang dynasty begins to decline, and with
it, the Silk Road drops into a valley.
800 CE First porcelain made in China.
Gunpowder invented in China.
Compass begins to be used by Chinese.
900 CE Tang dynasty ends.
After short abruption, the Song dynasty reunites
1100 CE China divided into Northern Sung and
Genghis Khan unites Mongols.
Silk production and weaving established in Italy.
1200 CE Kublai Khan establishes the Yuan dy-
nasty in China.
Silk road trade prospers again.
Marco Polo leaves for the East.
1300 CE Third Silk Road route appears in the
Yuan dynasty ends and Ming dynasty begins.
1400 CE China closes the door to foreigners.
Threatened by strong Uigur power, Ming dynasty
greatly reduces the trade along the Silk Road.
1600 CE Manchus invades the central plains of
China and establishes the Qing dynasty.
1700 CE The Manchus control the Gobi and Altai
1800 CE German scholar, Baron Ferdinand von
Richthofen firstly names this route as "Silk Road".
Old porcelain, glass, gold dish
and bronze tiger from
the Xian Museum, China
Besides silk, paper and other goods, the Silk Road carried
another commodity which was equally significant in
world history, the spread of Buddhism through Central
Asia. The transmission was launched from north-western
India to modern Pakistan, Afghanistan, Central Asia, Xin-
jiang (Chinese Turkistan), China, Korea and Japan from
the 2nd century BCE. Buddhism not only affected the
lives and cultures on those regions but also left us with a
world of wonders in arts and literature. The Kushans dom-
inated the areas of Hindu Kush, Kabul, Gandhara, north-
ern Pakistan and north-western India. They controlled the
trade between India, China, Parthia and the Roman Em-
pire along the central branch of the Silk Road. Under this
influence, Gandhara, a Buddhist settlement, flourished and
created a distinctive Graeco-Buddhist art form, which af-
fected the arts in Central Asia and eastward in the first four
centuries of our era, (the Buddhist’s halo was adopted by
the Christian artists who used it to mark the saints).
It is not certain when Buddhism reached China, but with
the Silk Road open in the second century BCE, mission-
aries and pilgrims began to travel between China, Central
Asia and India. The record described that Chang Ch'ien,
on his return from Ta-hsia (Ferghana) in the 2nd century
BCE, heard of a country named Tien-chu (India) and their
Buddhist teaching. This is probably the first time the Chi-
nese heard about Buddhism.
It is impossible to talk about Buddhism without mention-
ing its profound impact on the development of Central
Asian art, presenting a fusion of eastern and western cul-
tures. The art of Buddhism left the world the most power-
ful and enduring monuments along the Silk Road, and
among them, some of the most precious Buddhist sculp-
tures, paintings and murals. Furthermore, the contact with
the Hellenized Gandharan culture resulted in the devel-
opment of a new art form, the Buddha statue, sometimes
referred as a Buddha image. Before Buddhism reached
Gandhara in the 3rd century BCE, there had been no rep-
resentation of the Buddha, and it was in the Gandharan
culture that the use of Buddha images had begun. The ear-
liest Buddha images resembled the Greek gods Apollo and
Stone monument of the camel caravan with
the merchants traveling on the Silk Road
Wild Goose Pagoda
Marco Polo (1254-1324), is probably the most famous traveler on the Silk Road. His journey through Asia
lasted 24 years. He reached further than any of his predecessors, further that Mongolia to China. He became
a confidant of Kublai Khan (1214-1294). He travelled the whole of China and returned to tell the tale in a book,
which became probably the greatest travel book of all time.
In 1260, the brothers Maffeo and Niccolo Polo, two Venetian merchants, arrived at Sudak, the Crimean port
where they traded for a year. Shortly after a civil war broke out between Mongolian Prince Barka and his
cousin Hulagu, which made it impossible for the Polos to return via the same route they came, they decided
to make a wide detour to the east to avoid the war and found themselves captured for three years at Bukhara.
The Mongol ambassador persuaded the brothers that Great Khan would be delighted to meet them for he had
never seen any Latin and very much wanted to meet one. They accepted this adventure and started their jour-
ney eastward. They left Bukhara, Samarkand, Kashgar, then came to the murderous obstacle of the Gobi
desert. Through the northern route they reached Turfan and Hami, then headed south-east to Dunhuang. Along
the Hexi Corridor, they finally reached the new capital of the Great Khan, Bejing, in 1266. The Great Khan,
Mangu's brother, Kublai, was indeed hospitable. Kublai asked them all about their part of the world, the Pope
and the Roman church. One year later, the Great Khan sent them on their way with a letter in the Turkish lan-
gugage addressed to Pope Clement IV asking the Pope to send him 100 learned men to teach his people about
Christianity and Western science.
Kublai had set up his court at Beijing, which was not a Mongol encampment but an impressive new capital
city which he took over in 1264 and established the Yuan dynasty (1264-1368). Niccolo and Matteo, who
spoke the Turkic dialects perfectly, talked to the Khan and answered his questions truthfully and clearly. The
Polo brothers were well received in the Great Khan's capital. To make sure the brothers would be given every
assistance on their travels, Kublai Khan presented them with a golden tablet (or paiza in Chinese, gerege in
Mongolian). The golden tablet was a special VIP passport, authorizing the travelers to receive throughout the
Great Khan's dominions such horses, lodging, food and guides as they required. It took the Polos three full
years to return home, in April 1269.
VeniceMarco Polo’s tomb in Venice
Byzantine silk textile
In order to make this exhibition possible Pro Art & Co is deeply grateful to the following:
Dr Charalambos Dendrinos and Julian Chrysostomides
from Royal Holloway University of London, History Department, The Hellenic Institute
for their contribution in writing the introductory texts about Byzantium and for the text on Byzantine Trade Relations with the countries
from the Silk Road
Their Excellencies the Ambassadors and the staff of the Embassies from the patron’s countries for providing the images and other support:
Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Syria, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan
Jamshed Safarov, Counsellor from the Uzbekistan, Javad Ansari First Counsellor and Head of Cultural Section (Iran),
Abir Jarf, Counsellor (Syria)
Giorgi Badridze Counsellor Minister (Georgia), Israfil Mamedov, Maryleen Greene from V&A museum
Mouna Takla (Syria)
Tourist Boards and Tour Operators:
Orient Voyages Europe (http://orientvoyages.free.fr), 5 avenue Vion-Whitcomb, 75016 Paris - Dorotha Lachnit,
Go to Turkey, Turkish Tourist Office in London, Jordanian Tourist Board - Brighter Group (PR) - Hammersmith W14 0QH,
Komtour -Kazakhstan Tour operator: Mynistry of Tourismand Sport, Kazakhstan - Ryskul Bokisheva,
The PR Office - London NW1 0DU
Shaanxi Provincial Tourism Administration China, CTS Horizon UK Chinese tour operator London
Natgraphics (Design & Print Company): Gerry Torosyan, Neslie Hollinshead, Ronald Dalida and Hilmi Sunay
Countess Lusie Smirnoff, Sofija Petkovic (student-volunteer) and Lynette Andrews (volunteer)
Radomir Savic- security officer
and many other people whose name is not mentioned but who helped the project
Catalogue design:Vesna Petkovic and Neslie Hollinshead
Catalogue: Vesna Petkovic
Pro Art & Co is grateful to S & N (Scottish & Newcastle Plc) for their generous support
28 St Andrew Square Edinburgh EH2 1AF Tel: +44(0)131 203 2000
Nowadays, silk is as important a merchandise as it was in the past; it builds both cultural and economic bridges. The Silk Road connects
continents and peoples of all faiths, races and traditions. It was a major link between China and Europe, where all the en-route countries
had the benefit of opportunities to communicate and trade with each other.
In this transitional period, it is one of the rare points where alliances among different nations are necessary and promoted, where those who
wish to protect their interests have to keep their ancient road safe. The caravans of the past have today been replaced by millions of tourists
travelling by all means of transportation along the Silk Road.
This spirit of community, international communications and cultural interchanges has been kept as alive as it was in the past.
The Silk Road is now being replaced by an “Energy Road” which may determine our future.
This exhibition focuses on the Silk Road, mainly at its prime period between the 10th-16th centuries. Through photographic material of
the Silk Road and an artistic expression, inspired by Marco Polo’s book, by the artist Lilya Pavlovic-Dear,
we would like to bring closer to the audience this important historical event and the consequences
of its many episodes and occurences on our civilization. Lilya travelled extensively and expressed her experiences through art,
considering it as a mission bestowed on her.