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E-Resources for Teaching the Silk Route

“The Silk Route: Historical and Cultural Legacies” workshop,
Madison Concourse Hotel, Aug.13-15, 2012

General Educational Resources

The Silk Road Project “Silk Road Encounters”
Comprehensive portal with maps, images, AV files, and links relating to the historical silk road and also showcasing performances and outreach events of Yo-yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble (an assembled group of musicians from China to Turkey). The site also maintains teacher resources developed by John S. Major (author of the children’s book The Silk Route: 7,000 Miles of History) including a sourcebook and teacher’s guide with curriculum ideas for students of all ages. Overall more China-focused content than Western Central or South Asia.

The Silk Roads: An Educational Resource by Morris Rossabi
Produced for the journal Education About Asia, published by Association of Asian Studies.
This is a single web page, but with a lot of information. Prof. Rossabi provides advice on ways to teach about the historical Silk Roads, in terms of breaking up historical periods and providing a small cast of characters and stories that can help with digesting the many empires and peoples that are not commonly taught about. Content ranges from ancient history to contemporary Central Asia and would be geared towards older students.

International Dunhuang Project Teacher Resources
This nicely organized site is a great resource of examples of rare documents from the library of Dunhuang. On its teacher resource page there are several modules that focus on teaching on Silk Road topics. Some of them include: “Cultural Dialogue on the Silk Road: A Mini Gallery”, “The Story of Gansu: Where Cultures and Religions Meet”, “The Silk Road: Trade, Travel, War and Faith”, “Bookbinding of Dunhuang”, “Buddhism on the Silk Road”, “Medicine on the Silk Road”, “Gallery of 1000 Buddhas”, “Buddhism Education Pack”, “Chinese Astronomy”.

Monks and Merchants: Silk Road Treasures from Northwest China, Gansu and Ningxia, 4 th-7 th Century
This site belongs to the Asia Society, and is a nicely organized showcase of treasures from the silk road along short articles relating to Western China’s Silk Road.

Silk Road Foundation
This website is a great resource site devoted to current research related to Silk Road topics. There are many general information pages that would be useful starting pages, and there are a lot of other articles that are more focused on specific topics (many geared towards academics). Publications here are from a wide variety of scholars on diverse topics (like archaeology, food, medicine, etc). The site’s table of contents is a bit clunky, but there resources here quite good.

The more general pages are a little harder to find, but here are a few examples:

History of Silk

Travelers on the Silk Road


For Younger Audiences

Silk Road Resources at Ology ( American Museum of Natural History)

Silk Road Fables
A site with three video fables from China, Central Asia, and India. Moral of the story also provided.

Sounds of the Silk Road
Make your own music and explore the sounds of Chinese musical instruments. A cool application for hearing how the instruments go together.

Make your Own Paper
DIY project to make home-made paper (relating to one of China’s innovations for the Silk Road)

Ancient Petra
A virtual (cartoonized) walk through ancient Petra in Jordan

Scientists at Work: Jade
A module for kids to learn about what jade is and where it comes from


Resources for Related Themes


Visual Sourcebook of Chinese Civilization
Patricia Ebrey’s Visual Sourcebook of Chinese Civilization is terrific resource for many kinds of inquiry. You can find maps, timelines, primary source materials, and teacher guides for several aspects related to teaching about China (i.e. Geography, architecture, Buddhism, clothing, food, etc). Website is a bit clunkly and old-fashioned, but there is a lot of good stuff here.


Buddhism and Its Spread Along the Silk Road
From the Silk Road Foundation (see above). Concise article with much detail, images, and a historical timeline.

Tibetan and Mongolian Buddhism on the Silk Road
An informational page with maps and images from the International Dunhuang Project (see above).

Dunhuang: Caves of the Singing Sands/Buddhist Art from the Silk Road
Nice intro to Dunhuang Mogao caves with selections of text by Roderick Whitfield and photos from Seigo Otsuka, from a book published by Textile & Art Publications, 1996.


Travels of Ibn Battuta – the Great Traveller
Ibn Battuta was a 14 th century traveller from Morocco that surveyed all of the world’s Muslim lands of his time (this was a big distance). His accounts might be an interesting accompaniment to a section on Marco Polo. The source is the Silk Road Foundation (see above).

Online Lesson Plans from the Insititute on Religion and Civic Values (IRCV)
IRCV is a non-profit that works to include education about Islam into US curriculums. Their website has lesson plans from controversies on the hijab to “Journey Along the Silk Road”.


Marco Polo, Genghis Khan, China and the Silk Road
This blog, maintained by Hans van Roon, has many images and videos related to art and archaeology of Inner and Central Asia.

Xinjiang: Far West China
This blog is maintained by Josh Summers, who had lived (or has been living) in Xinjiang, China. Content related to modern Uyghur culture, and the many many things that strike one as interesting traveling there. Living cultures of the Silk Road.

Autonomous Region
This is another Xinjiang blog that takes a critical view on media in Xinjiang and media about Xinjiang. The blog is maintained by Batur, who is fluent in English, Uyghur, and Chinese. He frequently posts interesting signs, videos and adverts for things in multiple languages from Xinjiang, in ways that illustrate interesting points.

Inside Islam
This blog was maintained until the end of July at UW-Madison though a partnership with WPR’s Here on Earth program. The blog posts are interesting and timely and engage discussion and debate of issues relating to Islam.


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