Crossing the Ancient Silk Road19 July - 06 August, 2018

China and Central Asia
Trip Dates:
19 August - 06 September, 2018
Trip Price: £3580 not including international flights
Single Room Supplement: £690
Trip Length: 19 days

The Silk Road was not simply a highway for the trade of precious items, it was the main East West artery for the flow of ideas. Buddhist monks from India rubbed shoulders with Persian Manichean priests, and Zoroastrians whilst Nestorian Christians sought converts among the travellers and settlers of the roads. Advances in navigation first by the Arabs and later by the Europeans led to the decline in the land routes. The great sites and artistic treasures of the Silk Road were buried in the sands of the desert lost to generations of scholars and explorers. The dry sand however was a wonderful preservative for these great treasures. The special mix of salt and sand was especially effective at preserving human corpses – most notably the ‘Mummies of Urumqi’.

When the first archaeologists began working on the great sites of the Silk Road at the turn of the century, their discoveries were staggering. Manuscripts of an entire ancient Indo-European language, Tocharian, which shares some linguistic features with Celtic, a treasure trove of Buddhist sculptures and paintings and some of the earliest and most beautiful carpets and textiles were found.

Since the last great archaeological work in the 1930’s, great swathes of East Turkistan were closed to travellers and scholars by the Chinese government. But times have changed. With the gradual opening of routes across western China it is now possible, once again, to explore the lost cities, marvel at the great artistic achievements and discover the magic and beauty of these ancient routes.

Maximum Party Size: 20

Trip Leader: Dr Jamie Greenbaum

Dr Jamie Greenbaum is currently researching the history of early Chinese utopias and also a history of the early State of Yan (the area around and to the north of present-day Beijing) at Beijing Univesity. He has travelled widely in China and lectured on both Ancient and Contemporary China. Since 2003, he has led twelve very successful visits for Oxford and Cambridge Universities to China including six along the Silk Road.

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Crossing the Ancient Silk Road Trip Comments:

‘The journey was truly memorable and it will take some time for the epic to sink in. What a find you have with Jamie Greenbaum! Words can not express the debt of gratitude which we all felt for the way in which Jamie informed us, stimulated our thinking, entertained us and bubbled with enthusiasm.’
‘A brilliant trip, unlike anything I have ever done before. Faultlessly organised and perfectly executed and led by Dr Greenbaum. Very congenial company.’
‘It was a remarkable success. The overall planning and supervision were simply excellent. Well done!’
‘Despite the more arduous travel (in Kyrgyzstan) we wouldn’t have missed the Tien Shan Mountains, the nomads on their horses and yaks – all wonderful.’