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POSTPONED: Stations, stops, and connecting places in the urban networks of Central Asia (8th-13th centuries CE)

AS A PREVENTIVE MEASURE AGAINST THE SPREADING OF COVID-19, THIS EVENT HAS UNFORTUNATELY BEEN POSTPONED. Lecture by Research Fellow Paul Wordsworth, University of Oxford.

2020.02.04 | Mette Lang

Date Tue 21 Apr Mon 13 Apr
Time 13:00    14:00
Location Centre for Urban Network Evolutions (UrbNet) Aarhus University Moesgård Allé 20, DK-8270 Højbjerg Denmark, Building 4230-232.

AS A PREVENTIVE MEASURE AGAINST THE SPREADING OF COVID-19, THIS EVENT HAS UNFORTUNATELY BEEN POSTPONED  

 

Abstract

This paper presents recent research on the networks linking the nodal urban centres of Central Asia in the period following the spread of Islam into the region (post-8thcentury). While narratives of Silk Roads have dominated the discussions of medieval Eurasian cities, comparatively little attention has been paid to the detailed function of roads and routes and the stopping places connecting these larger hubs. Two types of archaeological sites, stations or ‘caravanserais’, and road-towns, speak directly to these systems, and are considered here in the context of the deserts of Western Central Asia (across the modern states of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan). From a detailed analysis of these sites the picture which is beginning to emerge is more complex than simply timeless corridors of trade along key geographical pathways. Instead both way-stations and the towns along routes speak to dramatic fluctuations in the configuration of urban connections. At the heart of this discussion is the question of infrastructure and the investment of the state in the establishment and provision of routeways. Although this type of activity is often difficult to pinpoint archaeologically, new evidence from early Islamic sites, combined with contemporary historical sources, suggests that centralised investment in routes in this region is the exception rather than the rule, demanding a reappraisal of the evolution of the urban networks known as the Silk Roads.

The lecture is followed by an informal reception. All are welcome. 

Lecture/talk, History and archaeology