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Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Shadow of the Silk Road

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Shadow of the Silk Road

by Colin Thubron

Shadow of the Silk Road
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  • First Published:
    Jul 2007, 363 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2008, 400 pages

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The Silk Road (map) starts at the western gate of old Changan in Xian which, in the Tang dynasty (618-907 AD), was the greatest city in the world. The Xian municipality commissioned a red sandstone sculpture of twice life-size camels in commemoration, but the site is now engulfed by a supermarket - so the camels have been relocated to a traffic island!

Nobody in ancient times spoke of the Silk Road; the term was coined by 19th century German geographer, Friedrich von Richthofen, who termed it the seidenstrassen; and it isn't a single road either, but a "shifting fretwork of arteries and veins" stretching from Xian to the Mediterranean at Antioch, ...

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