Exhibition dates: 1 March – 5 September 2014
For some 1,700 years, the Silk Road was the world’s largest trade network. Caravans of up to a thousand camels, horses, oxen and donkeys crossed deserts and high mountains to carry coveted goods from East to West and West to East. The first archaeological digs were carried out in the late nineteenth century, mainly by Russian expeditions. Vanished cities, cave monasteries, and necropolises came to light in Mongolia, western China, the Central Asian republics and the Caucasus. Many treasures were found beneath the sands, from ancient times, up to the Middle Ages: murals, silver, gold, painted silk, sculptures and jewellery, all of high artistic quality and bearing witness to astonishing interactions between cultures and religions. What the Silk Road revealed to Russian scholars is now waiting to be discovered in Amsterdam, with more than 250 treasures from the Hermitage.
The Amsterdam exhibition features artefacts from thirteen sites along the road, including an 8th century tapestry from Egypt or Syria found in the North Caucasus, depicting a pheasant (pictured above); silk garments and fragments of felt carpets excavated in the 1920s at Noin-Ula in northern Mongolia; and Buddhist scroll paintings on silk from Kara-Khoto, a flourishing oasis in the Gobi Desert that was destroyed by Genghis Khan in 1227.
For more information, visit the website of the Hermitage Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands.