Being the Heart of the Silk Road, Central Asia has been shaped over millennia by merchants and missionaries, soldiers and spies, and their wealth and ideas created magnificent civilizations in the region’s oases and crossroads. This is not just a lecture about the Silk Road’s archaeology and architecture. Sophie will entwine in her stories Central Asia’s fascination with astronomy and some of the world’s best locations for star gazing.
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Sophie Ibbotson, Central Asia Expert Sophie Ibbotson is a Central Asia expert who has worked in the region since 2008. She is a consultant to the World Bank, an advisor to the Government of Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan’s Ambassador for Tourism. She has written five guidebooks for Bradt Travel Guides, as well as articles for publications such as The Telegraph, Financial Times, and The Economist; and is a trustee of the Royal Society for Asian Affairs. Sophie has previously lectured at the Royal Geographical Society, Royal Asiatic Society, and Tashkent International Tourism Fair, as well as for tour operators such as Golden Eagle Luxury Trains, Trans Indus, and Travel the Unknown.
Let us embark on a journey to retrace the two-thousand-year history of Central Asian Silk Road, from the perspectives of the 3 legendary emperors – Alexandra the Great, Han Wudi and Tang Tai Zong.
A. In 332 B.C., Macedonian Alexander the Great marched eastward, pushing the Helenistic civilization from Mediterranean Sea to Pamir Snow Mountain in Central Asia.
B. In 129 B.C., Han Wudi Emperor’s outward foreign policy saw China expanding to the west, through the deployment of envoys like Zhang Qian who established large scale trade on the Silk Road with Western countries, reaching Ferhana in present-day Uzbekistan to obtain a special ‘Heavenly Horse’.
C. In 645 A.D., the Silk Road was reopened once again during the Tang Dynasty under Tang Taizong, reaching a golden era of prosperity and trade with the west. In 658 A.D, the five Central Asian countries were featured in the Great Tang map for centuries, and a mural with 8 envoys of Europe and Asia was done in Ambassador’s Hall in Samarkand that same year to commemorate the Tang Empire. Till today, Central Asia’s silk, war horses and nomads are still important resources along the Belt and Road, but also the highlight of the five Central Asian countries tour.
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Dr. Mao Ming, Journal Editor of Inner Asian Art & Archaeology Dr. Mao Ming hails from Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, with a Ph.D. Art and Archaeology from the University of London. Dr. Mao was the editor of the Journal of Inner Asian Art & Archaeology at the University of London, at the same time, taught the course “Forgotten Silk Road: Five Central Asian States” at the British Museum. She is currently a Research Professor at the Research Center of Cultural Soft Power in Peking University and at the Dunhuang Academy. Dr. has published more than two million words of academic works, including the award-winning “Pomegranate from the West”, the Oxford edition of the “Atlas of the World Art” in the sub-volume, and the Metropolitan Museum of New York exhibition catalogue entitled “Dawn to the Golden Age” silk volume. Five of her Central Asian archaeological translations, including “Turks, Sogdians and Nana Goddess”, have topped the Dangdang academic list in 2018. For the past 17 years, Dr. Mao has been a member of the UNESCO Archaeological Team preserving Buddhist temples and frescoes along Xuanzang’s Pilgrimage Route in the five Central Asian Countries.