Foreign Devils on the Silk Road: The Search for the Lost Cities and Treasures of Chinese Central Asia

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Univ of Massachusetts Press, 1984 - History - 252 pages
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The Silk Road, which linked imperial Rome and distant China, was once the greatest thoroughfare on earth. Along it traveled precious cargoes of silk, gold and ivory, as well as revolutionary new ideas. Its oasis towns blossomed into thriving centers of Buddhist art and learning. In time it began to decline. The traffic slowed, the merchants left and finally its towns vanished beneath the desert sands to be forgotten for a thousand years; however, legends grew up of lost cities filled with treasures and guarded by demons. In the early years of the last century foreign explorers began to investigate these legends, and very soon an international race began for the art treasures of the Silk Road. Huge wall paintings, sculptures and priceless manuscripts were carried away, literally by the ton, and are today scattered through the museums of a dozen countries. Peter Hopkirk tells the story of the intrepid men who, at great personal risk, led these long-range archaeological raids, incurring the undying wrath of the Chinese.

 

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Contents

The Rise and Fall of the Silk Road
9
Lost Cities of the Taklamakan
32
The Great Manuscript Race
44
Sven Hedin the Pathfinder
54
Aurel Stein TreasureSeeker Extraordinary
68
Stein Strikes it Rich
81
The Unmasking of a Forger
98
The Race Begins in Earnest
111
Secrets of a Chinese Rubbish Dump
145
Tunhuang the Hidden Library
156
Pelliotthe Gentle Art of Making Enemies
177
Spies Along the Silk Road
190
Langdon Warner Attempts the Unthinkable
209
The Chinese Slam the Door
223
Bibliography of Principal Sources
243
Index
246

Von Le Coq Spins a Coin
125
The Finest Paintings in Turkestan
134

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About the author (1984)

For five years Chief Reporter of the London Times, Peter Hopkirk now specializes in Middle Eastern and Asiatic affairs, He has traveled widely throughout the world during his twenty-seven years as a reporter and foreign correspondent.

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