A is for Asia

There are few descriptive phrases that sum up a time and place as elegantly as “The Silk Road.” It is an idea specific to geography and historical era. Others terms–World War I, Manifest Destiny, the Roman Empire, or the Enlightenment–belong to a specific country or encompass a comparatively brief span of years. Even the Renaissance, as I found out in last year’s A to Z challenge, made a heavy impression mostly on a handful of places and was fairly localized to Italy and the coastal cities of Western Europe. Or take a place like the Fertile Crescent, which may have lasted centuries in the development of human processes, but it was really a spot, that convergence of the Tigris and the Euphrates.

In comparison, the Silk Road spread across a continent, and the biggest one at that. It began a few hundred years before the Common Era (BCE is the new way of saying minus zero year) and lasted into the era of colonization. To cover 26 posts on anything requires a vast stretch of subject.

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2023 A to Z Challenge: The Silk Road

For the 2023 A to Z challenge, I picked the Silk Road, my current research area. Twenty-six posts on everything from camels to Qara Qorum, with the Chinese explorers Zhang Qian & Zheng He thrown in for good measure. You can scroll through the posts via the Next button at the bottom, or search April 2023 on the sidebar menu.

Picture from Corbis/Getty Images

I had a ton of fun the last three years writing about the Olympics, Accounting, and the Renaissance. Even though April is always so busy with the taxes and the side gigs and now studying so much… I can’t help it. I want to write about letters X, Q, and J.

Most of these will be short little snippets. Lots of towns, lots of medieval trade goods. Not chronological, but if you’re interested, you’ll pick up a lot of facts and ambience. Can you smell the spices on the desert breezes? Can you hear the wind rustling over the sand and the snort of the camels as they jostle for the well water?

Get ready to journey…