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Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present

by Christopher I Beckwith Princeton University Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 512 pages
AU$37.99 NZ$43.47
Product Status: In Stock Now
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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 revolutionised 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 re-emergence 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.





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




Christopher I. Beckwith is professor of Central Eurasian studies at Indiana University. His other books include