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Silk Road Talk is a collaborative platform that aims to investigate all aspects of the Silk Roads and its history. Instead of mainstream views that focus on the Silk Road as a historical process mainly happening overland in Eurasia, our focus is on the different networks that comprised the historical "Silk Roads" (in plural), which also included the Maritime- and the Southwest Silk Road. These routes interacted and stimulated inter-regional connectivity on a global scale and should not be treated as separated cultural influence spheres.

We plan to publish one episode of the Silk Road Talk Podcast every two months. We are also active on social media. We appreciate any feedback on our podcast or articles on this website. 

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The Heavenly Horses of the Han Dynasty

The Heavenly Horses of the Han Dynasty

The most well-known part of the Silk Road are the so-called northern routes of the overland Silk Road. These routes linked Xi’an in China, with Lanzhou, Dunhuang, Turfan and Kashgar. Traditionally the “opening” of this branch of the Silk Road is attributed to the military and commercial missions of Emperor Wudi, who ruled from 157 to 87 BC during the Han Dynasty. Although silk is often considered to be the main commodity exchanged, but what really kick started the trade over these northern routes was the Chinese demand for horses, and in particular ‘heavenly horses.’ But, as you may wonder, what were heavenly horses? Where did they come from? And what were the motives behind the desire for horses in Han-period China? 
The Discovery of Heavenly Horses Unfortunately, the breeds of horses associated with these ‘heavenly horses’ are extinct today, but archaeological discoveries can provide us with a glimpse of how they may have looked like. For instanc…

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