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27 November 2019Treasures of the Silk Road
26 February 2020Bankrolling the Renaissance - a history of the Medici family

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Treasures of the Silk Road Christopher Bradley Wednesday 27 November 2019

Cost: £35 to include three lectures, coffee and lunch         

First lecture: China and the East

Second lecture: Central Asia

Third lecture: The Levant and Near East

The Silk Road is the greatest trade route the world has ever known. As well as carrying precious goods, it was also the highway for expanding religions and new art forms.

The Silk Road extended over 8,000 km from China through Central Asia to the Mediterranean.  With the Greek invasion of Alexander the Great, early Persian routes spread East towards India, until stability finally allowed the Chinese to trade silk, jade and ceramics in exchange for horses, pearls and gold.  Silk was just one of the many products traded for 1,400 years, but the route also acted as a highway for beliefs, ideas, inventions and art.  Buddhism spread throughout Western China and there are wonderful paintings from the Magao caves at Dunhuang and the ‘Caves of the Thousand Buddhas at Bezeklik in the Flaming Mountains.  

Central Asia was the main link with the West where many trading cities became wealthy and important centres for the arts.  Samarkand and Bukhara are the beginnings of the great Islamic buildings that continue through Persia and Syria.  The Roman Empire was the destination of silk and all other commodities which eventually arrived at the Mediterranean coast.  

Along the way of this great journey we will see traditional murals, ceramics, statues,carpets, architecture, mosaics, tile-work, rock-carvings and of course, silk itself.