A Brief Introduction on the Program: "Hellenistic Civilization and the Silk Road"

The Hellenistic Civilization and the Silk Road Program was granted by the National Social Science Foundation of China in 2015 (No. 15ZDB059), and is hosted by chief expert, Professor Yang Juping of the History Department at Nankai University.

During the Empire of Alexander and new civilization appeared in Eurasia as a result of contact, exchange and fusion between Hellenic people and those of Egypt, Babylonia and India. It is called the Hellenistic Civilization.

The Silk Road opened by the great envoy Zhang Qian from Han China, was a main artery linking the ancient civilizations from the east and to the west. Their meeting in Central Asia, Western Asia and India is one of the significant events in the history of human civilization. It is through the Silk Road that direct contact developed between the Chinese and western cultures represented by the Hellenistic Civilization. The legacy and information of the Hellenistic Civilization was introduced to China, and finally was integrated unconsciously into the traditions of Chinese Culture. Therefore, the interaction between the Chinese and Hellenistic Civilizations is the central point of this program.

The main subjects of this program are:

1. The background of the establishment of relationship between the Hellenistic World and the Silk Road. How the Empire of Alexander played an important role in the emergence of the Silk Road from China to the Mediterranean will be answered.

2. The Hellenistic cities and the trade centers and metropolises along the Silk Road. The continuation and rebuilding of these cities and towns, especially their roles as cultural and commercial centers on the Silk Road will be a focus.

3. The Hellenistic coins and those circulating on the Silk Road later. The evolution of the Hellenistic coins and their imitation and transformation by the rulers of those kingdoms along the Silk Road will be studied extensively. These various coins were not only the currencies for exchange of commodities, but also the medium for the infusion and proliferation of the many cultures they represented.

4. The Hellenistic and religious art on the Silk Road. The historical context of the birth and development of Gandhara Art in India and its features as well as its evolution and influence in central Asia and China, will be a focus of research.

5. The Hellenistic legacy in China. The historical literature and relics in China related to the Hellenistic Civilization will be surveyed and analyzed thoroughly.

This program refers to many research fields such as history, literature, archaeology, numismatics, and sites of ancient cities, art and religion. It will include the vast area including the eastern Mediterranean, Western, Central, South Asia and China, as well as the long time span from the conquest of Alexander the Great in 334BC to the rise of the Arabian Empire in the seventh century. Members of the team include historians, archaeologists, numismatists and other experts. The majority of the team comes from the history department of Nankai University and other universities and academies in China. We are also partnering with various foreign experts in our research. We continue to search for a wider variety of experts to assist in this project.

All the research results will be published in a multivolume series titled Hellenistic and The Silk Road in Chinese. One abridged English version of it is also planned.

You are welcome to join our research. Please contact professor Yang Juping: yjuping@nankai.edu.cn or yjuping@hotamil.com



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