The Silk Road was and still is more an idea than an actuality. In the distant past, it was mapped only in the minds of those who traveled it and, then, only partially. Today it can be mapped more completely in retrospect by historians, archaeologists, and latter-day, arm-chair travelers such as ourselves. The Silk Road of old was more than a road and carried more than silk. This was a complex interlocking and overlapping network of land routes paralleled or supplanted here and there by sea passages. Through this network moved all manner of goods, hosts of peoples and beasts of burden (and the parasites and plagues they carried), ideas, and whole systems of belief. Nodes on that network--Petra, Persepolis, Samarkand--are now found in the modern Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the Republic of Uzbekistan in Central Asia. It is through these places we will travel as we backtrack along the Silk Road from west to east, pausing to consider how the Near East pivots gradually but perceptibly toward Asia.
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About the Speaker: Dr. Joseph Geene received his PhD at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, and has conducted archaeological excavations and surveys in Tunisia, Cyprus, and Jordan. Dr. Greene has taught in Harvard Extension School's Museum Studies Program since 2007 and has led many tours for the Harvard University Travel Program in the Eastern and Western Mediterranean, including to Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Greece, and Iran.