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Central Asia

On the Silk Road in Central Asia

Join experts to discover the preserved ruins, grand cities and cultural monuments that line the Silk Road, discovering how this ancient trade route altered the course of human history.
Rating (4.95)
Program No. 18766RJ
21 days
Starts at
Central Asia

On the Silk Road in Central Asia

Join experts to discover the preserved ruins, grand cities and cultural monuments that line the Silk Road, discovering how this ancient trade route altered the course of human history.
21 days
Starts at
Program No. 18766 RJ
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At a Glance

Two thousand years ago, caravans of pack animals and traders followed a route west from their home in China over the steppe of Central Asia and into the fertile valleys of Europe, bringing with them silk, porcelain and spices. When adventurous Europeans traveled the Silk Road in the opposite direction, they came back with knowledge that changed the destiny of Western Civilization. Experience the history, culture and people that link the living cities and ancient ruins lining the Silk Road.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Share tea with a sixth-generation ceramics master and enjoy a private exploration of his studio.
  • At the Bukhara Ark Citadel, a local specialist discusses archaeological excavations throughout the region.
  • Enjoy a performance of Kyrgyz Manas folk tradition in Bishkek.

General Notes

Listening devices are not available for this program.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
The Lost Heart of Asia
by Colin Thubron
In this classic narrative, Thubron recounts his travels to Samarkand, Bukhara and throughout Central Asia in the wake of the breakup of the Soviet Union. A fine writer, intrepid traveler and insightful observer, he's an outstanding guide to the history, people and culture of the region.
Empires of the Silk Road
by Christopher I. Beckwith
Beckwith rescues Central Asia from the periphery of world affairs with flair and scholarship, depicting millennia of empires, trade and cultural life on the Silk Road.
Lost Enlightenment, Central Asia's Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane
by S. Frederick Starr
Starr brings to life the great flowering of ideas and advances of Central Asia’s medieval enlightenment, showing how, between the years 800 and 1200, Central Asian societies led the world in trade and were at the vanguard of mathematics, philosophy, history, geology, astronomy and science.
Genghis Khan and the Quest for God
by Jack Weatherford
With compelling evidence, top-notch historian Jack Weatherford argues that Genghis Khan used religious tolerance to offset fanaticism and hold his disparate territories together.
The Silk Road, A Very Short Introduction
by James A. Millward
Millward's pocket history highlights the important exchanges of goods, ideas and spiritualities that traveled the Silk Road, the Mediterranean's link to Persia, India and China.
Lonely Planet Central Asia
by Lonely Planet
A comprehensive, detailed guide to travel in the region, including Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Marco Polo, The Journey That Changed the World
by John Man
John Man travels in the footsteps of Italian merchant Marco Polo, bringing to life the exotic world that he uncovered, one of huge armies, untold riches, unusual spices and the great Mongol emperor Kublai Khan.
Life Along the Silk Road
by Susan Whitfield
With insight, scholarship and dramatic flair, Susan Whitfield recounts the lives of ten diverse individuals on the ancient Silk Road, including four tales set in Dunhuang. With a superb 15-page history of Central Asia.
Flashman in the Great Game
by George MacDonald Fraser
What caused the Sepoy Mutiny, a pivotal moment in the Raj? How about Harry Flashman, the reluctant, much-decorated coward, cad and womanizer at the center of George MacDonald Fraser's wildly entertaining, irreverent series of historical novels.
A Splendid Exchange, How Trade Shaped the World
by William J. Bernstein
Primates may share food but only Homo Sapiens trade, says William Bernstein in this far-reaching, dare we say splendid, hymn. An economist (and fine writer), he considers not just silk and spices, sugar and tea but also the considerably less savory exchange of opium and slavery in this sweeping tale.
The Silk Road, A New History
by Valerie Hansen
A professor of Chinese and world history at Yale, Hansen draws on original sources and the latest archaeology for this magnificently illustrated tale of the overland routes across Asia and the life, history, and culture of fabled Silk Road cities Niya, Kucha, Turfan, Samarkand, Chang'an, Dunhuang and Khotan.
Mapping the Silk Road and Beyond
by Kenneth Nebenzahl
This visually stunning collection of 80 rare illuminated manuscripts, early modern masterpieces and archival maps traces two millennia of exploration across Asia.
The Silk Roads, A New History of the World
by Peter Frankopan
Tightly researched and filled with swashbuckling stories, this history by Peter Frankopan looks eastward, showing how the West grew out of a restless desire to access Asian trade.
Central Asia Map
by Nelles
An up-to-date, double-sided shaded relief map at a scale of 1:1,750,000.
Lonely Planet Central Asia Phrasebook
by Justin Jon Rudelson
A handy pocket phrasebook that focuses on pronunciation, basic grammar and essential vocabulary for the traveler on the Silk Road.
by Caroline Eden, Eleanor Ford
An excellent introduction to Samarkand (by turns inhabited by Uzbeks, Tajiks, Russians, Turks, Koryo-Sarams, Jews and Afghans), this compendium brings the region to life with essays, photos and plenty of recipes little-known to the West.
The Great Game
by Peter Hopkirk
Hopkirk's spellbinding account of the great struggle for European supremacy in Central Asia takes us over the high mountain passes and through the scorching deserts and caravan towns of the Silk Road, capturing the glamour, intrigue, treachery and adventure of the time.
Everyday Life in Central Asia, Past and Present
by Jeff Sahadeo (Editor)
Dozens of scholars and ethnographers contributed to this lively reader on the peoples, cultures and customs across Central Asia.
Central Asia, Through Writers' Eyes
by Kathleen Hopkirk
A literary introduction to the Silk Road that uses the words of travelers, explorers and writers from Marco Polo and Fitzroy Maclean to William of Rubrick and Ella Maillart.
Shadow of the Silk Road
by Colin Thubron
Thubron returns to Central Asia in this lyrical, erudite account of a 7,000-mile trek across Asia, visiting archaeological sites, people and cities from Xi'an and Dunhuang to Samarkand, Bukhara, Afghanistan and Iran.
The Silk Road, Two Thousand Years in the Heart of Asia
by Frances Wood
Wood draws on hundreds of archival photographs, manuscripts and paintings from the British Library in telling this lively story of the art, culture and history of diverse trade routes.

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