Art and Archaeology of The Silk Road
Copyright © 2006 by Elsa Favreau
“By preserving over all obstacles, and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destination”
Obstacles, distractions, destination ...Columbus’s words could as well stand for the fascinating and bewitching routes that linked the East to the West. Indeed, these routes, often consolidated together under the enchanting name “Silk Road”, were sprinkled with “obstacles”, spoiled by “distractions” and the home of several marvellous and exotic “destinations”. This so-called “Seindenstraße” as the geographer Ferdinand von Richthofen (1833-1905) originally named it in German, in 1877, misleadingly calls to mind two images. The first one is the collection of routes (both terrestrial and maritime) across Central Asia, which connected China and the Far East with the Mediterranean and the Far West. The second one refers directly to silk (“seiden”) one of the many items passing across the Silk Road’s network. These 6400 kilometres of routes contained in fact three major ones leading westward from Chang’an (the capital of China, actually in Xian), with assuredly hundreds of smaller ways as well as by ways. The northern route ran from China to the Black Sea, the central one to Persia and the Mediterranean Sea; and the Southern to the regions, which now include Afghanistan, Iran and India.
More than simple ways for connecting places, these routes were at the origin of an extraordinary conduit for ideas, religions, artistic forms and styles, between the East and the West. Even more, this trans-Asian Highway was to be the cradle of Buddhist Art derived from Chinese, Indian, Greek, Persian and Tibetan arts. The interest for these routes, these networks, hence these lands of mysteries, fantasies, dangers (The Taklamakan desert is said to be the most hostile desert in the World – see image), and fairy tales, never stop growing throughout the centuries.
Yet, from Alexander the Great to researchers of the beginning of the 20th century like Sir Aurel Stein (1862-1943) or Albert von LeCoq (1860-1930), the conception of the Silk Road kept evolving. Alexander the Great probably stands for one of the first Westerners to have fascinated his contemporaries with his epic accounts about the Silk Road. Much later, at the beginning of the 20th century, the enigmatic Silk Road would puzzle once again the two explorers cited above spining their willingness to lift the veil hiding buried treasures along these routes.
While describing the role played by explorers such as Sir Aurel Stein or Albert von LeCoq and the importance revealed by their excavations, we will also focus on the “modern” comprehension of the Silk Road brought to light by them. Although our paper is part of an art history and archaeological overview, we will not understand the term “modern” as referring to art history’s movements or its ages. More broadly, we will consider the term “modern” in its general sense, that is to say according to the following definition: “of or relating to recent times or the present”. In other words, we will here try to throw light on the second birth that was given to the Silk Road by 19th and 20th century explorers. This paper will not hence try to demonstrate the existence of a so-called “ancient” comprehension of the Silk Road, antithetical to the “modern” one. On the contrary, we will try to explain how both conceptions, “ancient” and “modern”, were intrinsically linked one to another and more precisely how the first one enabled the emergence of the second one. In other words, we will explain how the two comprehensions have evolved from a first birth to a rebirth, or how by relying on their ancestors’ vision, these explorers created a new vision.
Never forgetting the fact that the Silk Road was not a simple trade route but a connection of fundamental cultural highways, we will show how the awareness of external identities and cultures juxtapositions led to a new conception of Art influences within Central Asia.
At a time when the name “Seindenstraße” was yet to be coined for these magic routes, goods were already traded between the oasis towns surrounding the mysterious Central Asian deserts (Gobi and Takalamakan) and China. These deserts, basins, goods of luxury and unreachable lands recorded in Eastern texts, fascinated the West. Indeed if the liking for discoveries as well as intellectual curiosity is to be pointed out concerning 20th century explorers motivation; their questionings and willingness have also been strongly stimulated while reading the texts of the earliest Silk Road’s adventurers.
Before the 19th century rebirth of the Silk Road, records of both Eastern and Western characters increased the fascination about these routes. Amongst them, four emerge: Alexander the great, Faxian, Xuanzang and Marco Polo. They were the ones to give the first conception of the Silk Road phenomenon.
Although there was little data in the West compared to the quantity of Chinese records found during the discoveries, historians argue that the first one to have recorded an overall route to the Issedones was Herodotus in the 5th century BC. The effect of the historical invasion of Asia by Alexander the Great in 334-323 BC and its move across Persia, from Samarkand (present-day Uzbekistan) through Sogdiana was quite considerable. It is at that time that the East started to awake to the West. Moreover, when entering the Iranian empire, Alexander the Great imposed Greek culture. Hence, at that time, the area was already becoming a crossroads of Asia, where Persian, Indian and Greek ideas met.
In China, Zhangqian appears to be the first one to have travelled across China on a secret mission. In the 2nd century BC, sent by emperor Wudi of the Han dynasty, Zhangqian, “ the father of the Silk Road”, followed in Alexander the Great’s footsteps but this time, from the East. His mission was the quest of an alliance against the disruptive XiongNu. Although a failure, he brought back precious information concerning unknown kingdoms such as Ferghana, Samarkand and even Persia. Concerning fairy tales and fascinating stories, he is also the first one to have mentioned the existence of these extremely powerful warhorses also called “heavenly horses” (see image). These heavenly horses were instrumental in transforming the Han cavalry and were very effective in weakening the Xiongnu. It has been said that Alexander’s horse, Bucephalus, bore similar resemblance to these horses. Emperor Wudi believed that these horses (“Tianma” in Chinese) could bring him to heaven. These horses have been immortalised in the art of the period.
However, the most detailed and precise evocations of the Silk Road have come down through the sources left by several pilgrims who travelled from China to India between the 3rd and the 10th century. Indeed at that time, pilgrimage was quite a common practise among monks. The purpose of their travels was to study Buddhism at its source. As a matter of fact, most of them headed for India.
During the 4th century AD for example, the Buddhist pilgrim Faxian was one of the first Easterners to have contributed to the comprehension of the Silk Road. Astonished by the lack of knowledge of Chinese monks, he decided to travel to India where Buddhism had originated. In his Record of the Buddhistic Kingdoms, he tells the reasons for his setting out to seek the truth from Buddhist sources and to pray at the Holy places.
Yet the most famous pilgrim is by no means the monk Xuanzang (603-664). As his biographer S. Wriggins argues it, Xuanzang probably stands for one of the earliest symbol of cultural exchange between the two great civilizations in Asia-India and China. In 629, he left the capital Chang’an for India via the North Oasis road, through Turfan, crossing the Pamyrs and going down to Samarkand and Bactria (present-day Afghanistan). When he came back, he wrote his Record of the Western Regions at the Time of the Tang Dynasty for the Tang Emperor. These records, precious to the scholars of the twentieth century, contained various information about products and customs in several places in Asia. Indeed, alternately called by Sir Aurel Stein his “patron saint” or his “Buddhist Pausanius”, Xuanzang “ like the magic lamp of Sinbad the sailor, reveal(ed) a treasure” to the explorers. Although the facts and information provided by this “Prince of Pilgrims” could not be ascertained at the beginning of the twentieth century, the explorers were strongly convinced by their truthfulness.
Xuanzang’s (see image) legacy not only contributed to feed the Silk Road “myth” by alluding to the presence of demons for instance, but also at the same time stands for an incomparable travel diary. Indeed, its commentary already included precisions about Buddhism (Buddhist beliefs and practices or descriptions of sculptures). His records have thus helped explorers to identify their discoveries, and enabled art historians to reconstruct the history of several of the best known and most holy images of Buddhism.
It has been argued that art and civilization of the Silk Road started to decline with the fall of the Tang dynasty. Not coincidentally, the Silk Road flourished during the highly artistic and prosperous Tang Dynasty. By the end of the dynasty, monasteries, temples, flourishing paintings, frescoes were then neglected and had to wait the end of the 19th century to reappear. However, explorers continued to be fascinated, especially one.
The Romance of the Silk Road can also be traced back to the accounts of Marco Polo (1254-1324), who while describing the route from Baghdad to China alludes to the “spirits” and the mysterious people he encountered on his way. Marco Polo had crossed Asia along the Steppe Route and remained twenty years in the services of Kublai Khan. Although still extremely debated, archaeologists and art historians of the Silk Road agree to say that Marco Polo’s Description of the World was an invaluable source for travellers. Besides, he probably remains the most famous Westerner to have travelled on the Silk Road.
The records of the four men introduced above contributed to a first comprehension of the Silk Road. Before the birth of Christ until the 14th century AD, these texts alluded to magical and culturally rich regions. 19th century researchers used these sources to demonstrate a new comprehension of these routes. Driven by their predecessors’ precious advice and their endeavour to conquest the West, a British and a German explorer were to give a second birth to the Silk Road.
Hunting treasures: from fairy tales to confirmation
Within the “International Association for the exploration of Central Asia”, several figures amongst which Sir Aurel Stein (see image) and Albert von Le Coq started their “international race” towards the discoveries in Central Asia. Following the paths of their ancestors, aware of the several legends related to the Silk Road and intrigued by the idea that Greek culture could have been transported as far as into the heart of Asia, explorers were willing to make new discoveries. Convinced by the truthfulness of the legend that said that more than three hundred thousands cities were buried under the Taklamakan, European explorers could start their treasure hunt. We can today say that their finds were going to change the world’s conception of Central Asian Art, a cradle for the co-existence of several civilizations.
The explorers of the 19th and 20th century made several discoveries. The purpose of this essay is by no means to enumerate these discoveries. However, we will try and give prominent examples on their discoveries. These examples shed new light on the comprehension of the Silk Road. The second part of the essay will thus explore the different influences that the “modern” comprehension understands as acting on the Silk Road. By excavating documents from juxtaposed culures, the explorers gave a second birth to the Silk Road.
The leading explorer of the Southern Silk Road and the Taklamakan desert, also called “moving sands”, is without doubt the Swedish Sven Hedin (1865-1952). His curiosity picked by local legends in the Takalamakan desert, he discovered ruined cities on the south side of the desert. His biggest find was the city of Loulan (march 1901) where he discovered several Chinese manuscripts, some of them dating back to the third century.
Following Sven Hedin’s paths, the British Aurel stein undertook several expeditions amongst which three major ones : the first one in 1900 (in Western China and Taklamakan desert), the second one – the most famous in 1907 (Loulan and Dunhuang) and the third one in 1915 (Dunhuang and Turfan). The German von LeCoq took over the running of the second German expedition to East Turkestan in 1902. Unlike Sven Hedin, whose treasures led in travelling unsurveyed and dangerous expanses, Stein’s goal was to discover forgotten civilizations which exemplified the cultural diversity of the Silk Road. Indeed Stein and Lecoq verified the presence of Buddhist, Greek, Indian, Islamic, Persian and Tibetan cultures as well as forgotten religions. Moreover, the new consciousness of the existing links between these disregarded civilizations contributed to the modern vision of the Silk Road. How diverse were these cultures?
Blossoming of Buddhism
The Silk Road has connected completely different ideas from the East to the West and thus different art techniques. The best-known art of the Silk Road is undoubtedly the Buddhist Art. If talking about Buddhist art, we must not forget to specify some facts about Buddhist religion itself. Indeed, Buddhism cannot be differentiated from the evolution of the Silk Road. As Susan Whitfield explains, it is only during the 19th century that Western scholars started to be aware of the Indian roots of Buddhism, and the first introduction to Indian Buddhism goes back to the mid nineteenth century.
Buddhist religion had been carried, like silk, along the fascinating routes. As Peter Hopkirk asserts it, this religion “was to revolutionise art and thought not only in China but throughout the entire Far East.” Buddhism began its evolution as a religious doctrine in the sixth century BC, and was adopted as India's official religion in the third century BC. According to the legend, the Han Emperor Mingti, who had heard of Buddhism, dreamt of a golden figure floating in a halo of light that was interpreted to be the Buddha himself. Consequently, an envoy was sent to India to learn about the new religion, returning with sacred Buddhist texts and paintings as well as Indian priests to explain the teachings of the Buddha to the Emperor. Although several forms of Buddhism exist, Buddha’s teachings were that life is full of suffering and that one can only be liberated from it by mental and moral self-purification.
The new Buddhist art that emerged from Chinese Turkestan, now known as “Serindian” (the name was given by Sir Aurel Stein), absorbed different styles and forms along the way, including those popular in the Kingdom of Gandhara (in what is now the Peshawar valley of northwest Pakistan), where indigenous Indian art forms had already been mixed with those of the Greeks and Persians in the early sixth century BC.
Other forms of art flourished along the roads, enabling the explorers to play their role of verifiers of fairy tales. However, it has been said that the Gandharan sculptures are the most fabulous examples of the East-West interaction along the Buddhist routes. What explorers brought to light was assuredly the conception of a new type of art called “Gandhara Art”.
From Hellenistic influences to Gandhara Art
From what we demonstrated above, we indeed now know that Buddhists crossed the passes from India to Afghanistan in the late 1rst millennium BCE. History says that they encountered Alexander the Great’s soldiers. Buddhist Art then started to incorporate Greek characteristics in sculptures amongst others. This Graeco-Buddhist style was the art called Gandhara Art (see image). The greatest explorer of our time was convinced that the invasion of Asia by Alexander the Great had to have left treasures along the routes. When discovering Niya in 1901, Stein then realised evidence of Hellenistic influences on the Silk Road. Indeed, he found clay seals showing the figure of Pallas Athene, depictions of Greek deities and even a sitting Eros. Some portraits even had heads of men with features of barbarians, wholly in a classical style. This discovery probably stands for the most astonishing since the depiction of the Buddha was in human form. Traditionally the Buddah was symbolized by a footprint, a wheel, a tree, a stupa or Sanskrit characters. Stein was astonished. As Luce Boulnois puts it:
“One can imagine the astonishment which 19th century Westerners must have experienced (...) when they suddenly came across classically Greek faces, rounded forms with full curves and straight noses continuing the lime of the forehead.”
However astonishing, Greek influences on traditional Buddhist painting were obvious: instead of a loincloth the Buddha wore flowing robes, had a straight chiselled nose and brow, full lips and wavy hair.
Stein made similar discoveries in Endere or Miran. Buddhist stucco relieves, a colossal head of Buddha as well as splendid wall paintings in the Graeco- Buddhist Gandhara style, found in Miran, had him conclude that the city had experienced a golden age during the first post Christian centuries. Although Miran had already been explored by the Russian geoprapher Nikolai Prejevalski in 1876, Stein was the one to have reconstructed the history of the site. Stein’s role contributed to prove that the Graeco-Roman influence from the Eastern Mediterranean region had advanced as far as Miran where the “zenith of Graeco-buddhist Art” was reached.
His German peer Albert von LeCoq, was in the same way convinced that Chinese Turkestan was the meeting point between art of Classical Greece and Buddhist Art in Asia. When arriving in Kharakoja, he was astonished to find a nearly life-size statue of Buddha in Gandhara style. This discovery motivated LeCoq’s endeavour to find new treasures and thus to play a leading role in archaeological discoveries of the 20th century. “The paintings were the finest that we found anywhere in Turkestan, consisting of scenes from Buddha legend, almost purely Hellenistic in character” said LeCoq when seeing the drawings at the Kizil sites, half way between the oases of Kashgar and Turfan. Gandhara art stands for the most prominent discovery in terms of juxtaposition of techniques but is not the only one.
During his first and second expeditions (1900-1901 and 1906-1908), Stein discovered the town of Niya in the south-eastern Xinjiang region,. There, he found over 100 Kharoshti wooden tablets written in 105 CE. The discoveries at Niya were so numerous that some scholars even baptised the city of “The Pompeii of the Silk Road”. The finds confirmed what Stein had read in Xuanzang’s records concerning the statement that this region had been conquered by Indians around 200 BCE. The assumption was confirmed during his second expedition - while going to Dunhuang - in Loulan where Stein picked up more wooden documents inscribed in Kharoshti script. Other Indian traces were found by von LeCoq in the temple of Bezeklik. He discovered paintings of Buddhist monks larger than life-size that were distinctively Indian. In the cella, he even found frescoes of “grotesque-looking” Indian gods.
Stein, although British, was born in Hungary. His Hungarian roots also played a role in its discoveries, at least in its major one. Stein had heard from a man named Loczy of a Buddhist cave that inhabited paintings and sculptures with Indian Buddhist art influences. This desire to see such material made him go to Dunhuang during its second expedition in 1907. Dunhuang is by no means Stein’s most significant discovery. Dunhuang was the point where the Northern route and the Southern route converged. This “Great Art Gallery in the desert”, is probably the best synthesis between Buddhism and other influences such as Indian or Tibetan cultures. Dunhuang not only continues to constitute a field of study today but provided immense scope for scholars to look at the Indian and Tibetan influence on Chinese art.
Tibetan Buddhist texts also played an important role for the comprehension of the Silk Road. The ruined temple in Endere, visited by Stein, revealed Tibetan graffiti, confirming the invasion of the eight century which drove the Chinese from the era. In Miran, old tibetan woodslips were excavated. By excavating these objects, Stein enlightened to the history of the Tibetan Empire and the Silk Road. Historians indeed recall that the Tibetan Empire occupied and ruled the Southern Route of the Silk Road and most of the Hexi corridor (where the Gobi meets the Taklamakan) . Hence, the artefacts discovered by Stein confirm the undeniable presence of Tibetan Art within China and Central Asia.
The other influence came from Persia (present-day Iran). Persia was connected to China through the commercial exchanges and trading routes. As for the influences cited above, the relationship between Chinese and Persian arts expanded. Having read Sven Hedin’s Through Asia, Aurel Stein found in Dandan Oilik frescoes of Persian influences. Identical discoveries were made by von LeCoq in Kharakoja where the manuscripts found all had similar persian influences.
Being the cradle for multi-existing civilizations, The Silk Road also implied foreign influences in everyday life. Indeed, this trans-Asian highway not only carried goods and art techniques but men. From an art historical and archaeological standpoint, the evidence stands in the abundant depiction of foreigners hence western characters. The excavations and explorations undertook by Stein and von LeCoq also played a matchless role for our awareness of such a phenomenon. The guardian warriors, Lokapalas (see image), produced under the Tang Dynasty, stand for a strong evidence of foreign effect on Silk Road arts.
These representations could be made of earthenware and directly refer to people, others were strongly influenced by other artistic movements. In Miran, Stein uncovered murals. On one of them, he found a dado of winged angels. Stein’s conclusions, when looking at the cherubins, was that the artist must have been Roman.
In addition to goods, men and art techniques that travelled along the routes, religions were linked to the profusion of influences. Our comprehension of the Silk Road today enables a better understanding of the mutual impact between Buddhist art and other cultures. Thanks to the German explorer Albert von Lecoq, it also makes clearer the several religions practised along this “terra incognita”.
Although Buddhist Religion remains the predominant one on the Silk Road, other “foreign-born” religions and influences were to reach China. Albert von LeCoq’s excavations in Kharakhoja ( Khoko is the ancient name) confirmed Marco Polo’s records and stands as evidence. Indeed, today, scholars are assuredly convinced that the six-foot-high fresco he found there depicts Manes, who in the third century founded the Manichean faith. The manuscripts, frescoes, hanging cloth paintings and textiles taken by von Le Coq from Karakhoja provide scholars with a rare source for learning about the Manichean religion, this now-extinct ascetic faith and its mystic artist-founder. This fresco is believed to be the first depiction of Manes ever found and without it we would have no traces of the Manichean religion, art or culture. Indeed, until von LeCoq discovery, this creed was believed to have neither literature nor art.
The other religion was Nestorian Christianity. The Nestorian Church, also called the “Church of the Orient”, denied that Christ could be simultaneously human and divine. Many of them fled eastwards to the Sassanian empire (present day Iran). From there, beliefs were carried along the routes and the first Nestorian church was consecrated at Chang’an in 432. Following Marco Polo’s paths who had found traces of the religion in Kashgar and Khotan as late as the 13th century, von LeCoq discovered Nestorian manuscripts in the Turfan and Dunhuang regions.
Stein and LeCoq not only discovered prominent archaeological artefacts but the existence of hidden beliefs. At that time, Art could not be differentiated from Religion. Indeed both were connected inherently.
Although considered as “foreign devils” by the Chinese government and others, Stein and Lecoq have extremely contributed to the modern comprehension of the Silk Road. We can furthermore assert that scholars and art historians owe their modern comprehension of the Silk Road to the two explorers. Thanks to them, The Silk Road came back to life. Without them, the historical conception of the Road would still be referring to Alexander the Great or Marco Polo records. In this essay, we first described those which gave birth to the myth of the Silk Road, to further observe the role of the explorers in the rebirth of the Road. Finally, we highlighted the contribution of the latest in the unveiling of buried civilizations. There is no doubt that Stein and von LeCoq were the keystone to archaeological researches and theories. As Emile Senart has put it, while welcoming the French explorer Paul Pelliot on his return:
“Thanks to archaeology, we have seen come out of oblivion and return to life many hidden corners of our earth which seemed shrouded in some sort of half light”.
Indeed, in terms of archaeological standpoint, these discoveries have led to new conceptions of the Silk Road. Today, some of the objects are still studied and the several arts specified above ( Buddhist Art, Greek Art, Art of Gandhara, Indian Art, Tibetan Art, Persian Art) are whole considered as major entities and studied independently in Art departments all over the world. The modern comprehension of the Silk Road can also be enlightened with the words of Vadim Elisseeff:
“An artistic or an intellectual influence is not confined to a single effect. Its cause has repercussions not only by passing from the seed to the fruit but also through countercurrents, from the effect to the cause. All this is acheived through movements in all directions which can be repeated infinitely, like those of images in a kaleidoscope.”
Indeed, the several cultures encountered on the Silk Road, as the images of a kaleidoscope, were superposed. Although unclear, the images can still be identified. The veiled civilizations of the Silk Road have begun to appear to light thanks to the explorations. Yet, as the kaleidoscope’s images, civilisations outlines appear with clarity while more subtle aspects remain blurred.
Baumer, C., Southern Silk Road, In The Foosteps of Sir Aurel Stein and Sven Hedin, White Orchid Books, 1994.
Boulnois, L., The Silk Road, 1966.
Davidson, B., Turkestan Alive. 1957.
Drège J-P., Marco Polo et la Route de la Soie, Découvertes Gallimard Histoire, Paris, 1989.
Elisseeff, V., The Silk Roads, Highways of Culture and Commerce, Paris, Unesco, 1998.
Giles, L., Six centuries at Dunhuang, 1944.
Hopkirk, P., Foreign Devils on the Silk Road, Oxford University press, 1980.
Le Coq A., Buried Treasures of Chinese Turkestan, Allen and Unwin, 1928.
Mirsky, J., Sir Aurel Stein, Archaeological Explorer, University of Chicago Press, 1977.
Polo, M., The Book of Ser Marco Polo,Translated and edited,3rd edition, 1903.
Stein, A., Sand-Buried Ruins of Khotan, Fisher Unwin, 1903.
Walker, A., Aurel Stein, Pioneer of the Silk Road, The University Press, Cambridge, 1995.
Whitfield S., Aurel Stein on the Silk Road, The British Museum Press, 2004.
Whitfield S., The Silk Road: Trade, Travel, War and Faith, Exhibition Catalogue at The British Library, Serindia Publications, 2004.
Wood, F., The Silk Road, Two Thousand Years in The Heart of Asia, The British Library, 2003.
Wriggins, S.H., Xuanzang, A Buddhist Pilgrim on the Silk Road, Westview Press, 1996.
 The Silk Road carried other items than Silk. The caravans were laden with gold, metals, wolen and linen textiles, ivory, coral or amber amongst others.
 Cambridge Dictionary
 Elisseeff, V., The Silk Roads, Highways of Culture and Commerce, Paris, Unesco, 1998, p.3.
 The Issedones was an ancient people of Central Asia at the end of the trade route leading north-east from Scythia.
 Baumer, C., Southern Silk Road, In The Foosteps of Sir Aurel Stein and Sven Hedin, White Orchid Books, 1994, p.11.
 Hopkirk, P., Foreign Devils on the Silk Road, Oxford University press, 1980, p.17.
 The Xiong Nu, also known as the Asiatic Huns, were one of the earliest known nomadic peoples that lived in Central Asia.
 Wriggins, S.H., Xuanzang, A Buddhist Pilgrim on the Silk Road, Westview Press, 1996, p.15.
 Mirsky, J., Sir Aurel Stein, Archaeological Explorer, University of Chicago Press, 1977.
 Pausanius was an ancient Greek traveller and geographer. See Wriggins, S.H., Xuanzang, A Buddhist Pilgrim on the Silk Road, Westview Press, 1996, p.187.
 Wriggins, S.H., Xuanzang, A Buddhist Pilgrim on the Silk Road, Westview Press, 1996.
 Elisseeff, V., The Silk Roads, Highways of Culture and Commerce, Paris, Unesco, 1998, p.5.
 Hopkirk, P., Foreign Devils on the Silk Road, Oxford University press, 1980, p.11.
 Wood, F., The Silk Road, Two Thousand Years in The Heart of Asia, The British Library, 2003.
 Baumer, C., Southern Silk Road, In The Foosteps of Sir Aurel Stein and Sven Hedin, White Orchid Books, 1994, p.23.
 Wood, F., The Silk Road, Two Thousand Years in The Heart of Asia, The British Library, 2003, p.121.
 To avoid the competition between the explorers of the time as well as the compromision of their work, William Radloff proposed the creation of an “International Association for he exploration of Central Asia”, in 1899. Elisseeff, V., The Silk Roads, Highways of Culture and Commerce, Paris, Unesco, 1998.
 Famous travelers of the 19th century also included names as the Russian Nikolai Przevalsky, the Swedish Sven Hedin, the French Paul Pelliot and the American Langdon Warner.
 Whitfield S., The Silk Road: Trade, Travel, War and Faith, Exhibition Catalogue at The British Library, Serindia Publications, 2004, p.130.
 Whitfield S., Aurel Stein on the Silk Road, The British Museum Press, 2004.
 Eugène Burnouf, Introduction à l’histoire du bouddhisme indien, Paris 1884, in Whitfield S., Aurel Stein on the Silk Road, The British Museum Press, 2004, p.19.
 Zekrgoo, Amir H., “The Spiritual Identity of the Silk Roads” in V. Elisseeff, The Silk Roads, highways of culture and commerce, Paris, Unesco, 1998, p.327.
 This is how Jeannette Mirsky calls Sir Aurel Stein, see Mirsky, J., Sir Aurel Stein, Archaeological Explorer, University of Chicago Press, 1977.
 Boulnois, L., The Silk Road, 1966, p.93.
 Baumer, C., Southern Silk Road, In The Foosteps of Sir Aurel Stein and Sven Hedin, White Orchid Books, 1994, p.113.
Hopkirk, P., Foreign Devils on the Silk Road, Oxford University press, 1980.
 The Kharoṣṭhi script is an ancient alphabetic script used by the Gandhara culture of historic northwest India to write the Gandhari and Sanskrit languages.
 Wood, F., The Silk Road, Two Thousand Years in The Heart of Asia, The British Library, 2003, p.198.
 Hopkirk, P., Foreign Devils on the Silk Road, Oxford University press, 1980, p.126.
 As Mildred Cable calls it. Mildred Cable (1878-1952) travelled with Evangeline French and Francesca French across China for the China Inland Mission, a Bible society established in 1865 to convert the people of China to Christianity.
 Some of hem were signed with the single name “Titus”, see Hopkirk, P., Foreign Devils on the Silk Road, Oxford University press, 1980, p.155.
 Hopkirk, P., Foreign Devils on the Silk Road, Oxford University press, 1980, p.26.
 The Manichean faith, born in Persia, mystically centered on the forces of light and darkness, good and evil, was anathema to Christians, Moslems and Zoroastrians. Manes was crucified as a heretic after an unfortunate debate with Zoroastrian priests. The ruins at Karakhoja reveal a flourishing eighth century Manichean community.
 Hopkirk, P., Foreign Devils on the Silk Road, Oxford University press, 1980.
 Baumer, C., Southern Silk Road, In The Foosteps of Sir Aurel Stein and Sven Hedin, White Orchid Books, 1994, p.48.
 Hopkirk, P., Foreign Devils on the Silk Road, Oxford University press, 1980.
 Emile Senart, member of the Institut, gave a lecture entitled “Un nouveau champ d’exploration archéologique: le Turkestan chinois” at the session of the Five Academies in 1905 in V. Elisseeff, The Silk Roads, highways of culture and commerce, Paris, Unesco, 1998, p.11.
 Elisseeff, V., The Silk Roads, Highways of Culture and Commerce, Paris, Unesco, 1998, p.17.