Essay Central Asia Changes and Continuities

Submitted By mpriebe
Words: 2941
Pages: 12

Change and Continuity in Central Asia
Matthew Priebe

The Silk Road in Central Asia influenced major civilizations for many years as
goods moved around the Eurasian world. In Central Asia, two Eras both affected the
region in their own ways. From the Buddhist period to the Islamic period in Central Asia
during the Post Classical Era some things that continued as supported by Dr. Liu’s
Article were the use of monasteries, value of silk as a commodity, Greek culture, and the
spread of Buddhism and Islam on the silk routes. Some things that changed were the
diversification of Central Asia through religious conversion and the languages that were
spoken in Central Asia.

In the Postclassical Era, regions such as Persia, Greece, the Mediterranean sea
area, China, and India all had an effect on Central Asia. For example, Persians
influenced Central Asia because Zoroastrian drawings in Buddhist graffiti were found on
the Karakorum highway. This shows that the Persians influenced the central Asians by
introducing Zoroastrianism to central Asia. The Sogdians also played a large role in the
lives of the central asians. Wine, a Greek drink was widely consumed throughout Central
Asia. The Sogdians brought the Greek culture deeper into Central Asia. They were the
middle men, trading with all the nearby countries, and spreading culture to central Asia
and beyond. China contributed silk to Central Asia, which helped Central Asian trade
cities to grow throughout the time period. India is the birthplace of Buddhism, so in the
Buddhist Era, India strongly influenced the religious beliefs of the central Asians.

In the Islamic Era many regions that influenced Central Asia stayed the same.
Greek culture continued to influence the region as well as Chinese, Persian and Indian.
Buddhism also continued to influence central Asia. Wine continued to be consumed into
the Islamic Era. The Arabs did not destroy the trade cities in Central Asia, so the silk

road infrastructure remained largely the same. Many of these regions that influenced
Central Asia remained the same as in the Buddhist Era.

In Central Asia in the post classical era, during both the Buddhist and Islamic
periods, religious institutions, were continually used for similar reasons such as hotels
and rest stops for travelers as addressed in Dr Liu’s Article. In the Buddhist Era,
monasteries were not only places of worship for monks, but hotels for travelers. For
example, in
A Record of Buddhist Kingdoms
Faxian, a Chinese Buddhist teacher, writes
that “There is a Buddhist hostel for guest monks and other travelers. The king settled
Faxuan and his companions at Sangharama. This Sangharama, called Gomati, is a
Mahayana monastery.” This clearly states that Buddhist monasteries were not only
places of worship, but were hotels for travelers. Additionally, in
The Silk Road: A New
History
Dr. Valerie Hansen writes that “A Handful of Inscriptions are in other Iranian
languages, Chinese, and Tibetan. One of the latest, in Hebrew, records the names of two
men, evidence that Jewish merchants also used the Karakorum highway.” She describes
inscriptions on a Buddhist monastery in many different languages which shows that
travelers from many different places stopped at the monastery, and inscribed things into
the Stupa there. Therefore, monasteries were not only places of worship in the Buddhist
Era, but also served as hotels and rest stops for travelers.

In Central Asia in the post classical era, during both the Buddhist and Islamic
periods, religious institutions, were continually used for similar reasons such as hotels
and rest stops for travelers as addressed in Dr Liu’s Article. In the Islamic period, one of
example of this is in The Hudud al­’Alam when it states “Herat, a large town with a very
strong shahristan, a citadel, and a suburb. It has running waters. Its cathedral mosque is
the most frequented in…