Institute of Archaeology


The Silk Roads in Central Asia, in Arches geospatial platform


Research Focus

Broadly the centre would enable two forms of research:

  • Projects to undertake cutting-edge comparative research on the archaeology of the Silk Roads
  • Projects to disseminate information and build collaborations along the Silk Roads

New research

Some research projects we are developing:

  • The transition of the Late Antique city into the Islamic world: city to shahristan
  • The trans-Himalayan and "Southern Silk Roads"
  • Feeding Silk Roads communities: how the spread of agricultural products, techniques, and hydrological adaption, enabled societies to adapt to the complex environments along the Silk Roads, sustaining and supporting the populations that developed alongside trade and empires
  • The application of remote sensing to understanding the Silk Roads: GPR, Geophysics, Aerial photography, Satellite imagery, etc.
  • Modern uses of the Silk Roads concept: Central Asian nationalism, Belt and Road Initiative, and heritage tourism, etc.

Building data, collaborations & synthesis

Data sharing is a massive priority for the study of the Silk Roads. Digital data offers the potential of advancing our understanding of the complexity of the societies that lived along the Silk Roads through comparative research.

Key areas we are working towards are:

  • Online Silk Roads Geographic Information System, as a platform for sharing and visualising digital data
  • A gazetteer of Silk Roads cities: a point-in-time comprehensive review of the state of knowledge of Silk Roads cities
  • Big data: data mining and developing creative research
  • Visualisation of Silk Road cities: light, heat, shade - understanding urban life and textures
  • Online bibliography of Silk Roads research: multi-lingual system, especially focused on drawing attention to the wealth of scholarship from China and Central Asia
  • Material culture on the Silk Road: building on existing research to create networks of researchers exchanging data and providing scientific support to partners, particularly in Central Asian and South Asia, to assist in developing scientific approaches to the understanding of material cultures.

Tamgaly Tas rock art site along the medieval trade routes