The first complete history of Central Eurasia from ancient times to the present day, Empires of the Silk Road represents a fundamental rethinking of the origins, history, and significance of this major world region. Christopher Beckwith describes the rise and fall of the great Central Eurasian empires, including those of the Scythians, Attila the Hun, the Turks and Tibetans, and Genghis Khan and the Mongols. In addition, he explains why the heartland of Central Eurasia led the world economically, scientifically, and artistically for many centuries despite invasions by Persians, Greeks, Arabs, Chinese, and others. In retelling the story of the Old World from the perspective of Central Eurasia, Beckwith provides a new understanding of the internal and external dynamics of the Central Eurasian states and shows how their people repeatedly revolutionized Eurasian civilization.
Beckwith recounts the Indo-Europeans' migration out of Central Eurasia, their mixture with local peoples, and the resulting development of the Graeco-Roman, Persian, Indian, and Chinese civilizations; he details the basis for the thriving economy of premodern Central Eurasia, the economy's disintegration following the region's partition by the Chinese and Russians in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and the damaging of Central Eurasian culture by Modernism; and he discusses the significance for world history of the partial reemergence of Central Eurasian nations after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Empires of the Silk Road places Central Eurasia within a world historical framework and demonstrates why the region is central to understanding the history of civilization.
Christopher I. Beckwith is professor of Central Eurasian studies at Indiana University. His other books include The Tibetan Empire in Central Asia (Princeton).
"Christopher I. Beckwith, professor of Central Eurasian studies at Indiana University, suggests in his recent book, Empires of the Silk Road (Princeton University Press), that 'the most crucial element' of societies all through Central Eurasia--including the ones analyzed by this exhibition--was the 'sociopolitical-religious ideal of the heroic lord' and of a 'war band of his friends' that was attached to him and 'sworn to defend him to the death.' This idea, he suggests, affected the organization of early Islam as well as the structure of Tibetan Buddhist devotion. In fact, this 'shared political ideology across Eurasia,' Mr. Beckwith suggests, 'ensured nearly constant warfare.' The region's history is a history of competing empires; trade became part of what was later called the Great Game."--Edward Rothstein, New York Times
"[T]his is no mere survey. Beckwith systematically demolishes the almost universal presumption that the peoples and powers of Inner Asia were typically predatory raiders, and thus supplied themselves by extracting loot and tribute from more settled populations. . . . With his work, there is finally a fitting counterpart to Peter B. Golden's magnificently comprehensive An Introduction to the History of the Turkic Peoples: Ethnogenesis and State Formation in Medieval and Early Modern Eurasia and the Middle East, based on Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Greek, Latin, and European medieval sources. By reading just two books anyone can now sort out Charlemagne's Avar Ring, the Golden Horde, modern Kazakhs and Uzbeks, ancient Scyths, Borodin's Polovtsian dances (they were Cumans), present-day Turks, Seljuks, Ottomans, early Turks, and Bulghars and Bulgarians, among many less familiar states or nations."--Edward Luttwak, New Republic
Table of Contents:
ABBREVIATIONS AND SIGLA xvii
PROLOGUE: The Hero and His Friends 1
CHAPTER 1: The Chariot Warriors 29
CHAPTER 2: The Royal Scythians 58
CHAPTER 3: Between Roman and Chinese Legions 78
CHAPTER 4: The Age of Attila the Hun 93
CHAPTER 5: The Turk Empire 112
CHAPTER 6: The Silk Road, Revolution, and Collapse 140
CHAPTER 7: The Vikings and Cathay 163
CHAPTER 8: Chinggis Khan and the Mongol Conquests 183
CHAPTER 9: Central Eurasians Ride to a European Sea 204
CHAPTER 10: Th e Road Is Closed 232
CHAPTER 11: Eurasia without a Center 263
CHAPTER 12: Central Eurasia Reborn 302
EPILOGUE: The Barbarians 320
APPENDIX A: The Proto- Indo- Europeans and Their Diaspora 363
APPENDIX B: Ancient Central Eurasian Ethnonyms 375
This book has been translated into:
Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Christopher I. Beckwith: