HIST341: The Silk Road and Central Eurasia

Course Syllabus for "HIST341: The Silk Road and Central Eurasia"

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This course will introduce you to the history of Central Eurasia and the Silk Road from 4500 B.C.E to the nineteenth century.  You will learn about the culture of the nomadic peoples of Central Eurasia as well as the development of the Silk Road.  The course will be structured chronologically; each unit will focus on one aspect of the Silk Road during a specific time period.  Each unit will include representative primary- and secondary-source documents that illustrate important overarching political, economic, and social themes, such as the discovery and production of silk in China, diplomatic relations between Han China and nomadic peoples of the Eurasian steppe, the international scope of the Silk Road trade routes, European interest in finding a “new silk route” to China, and the “Great Game” between China, Russia, and Great Britain in Central Eurasia in the nineteenth century.  By the end of the course, you will understand how the Silk Road influenced the development of nomadic societies in Central Eurasia as well as powerful empires in China, the Middle East, and Europe.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course,  the student will be able to:

  • Identify and describe the emergence of early nomadic cultures in Central Eurasia.
  • Identify and describe the rise of silk production in China.
  • Identify and describe the various routes of the Silk Road.
  • Identify and describe the reasons for China’s opening of the Silk Road in the second century.
  • Identify and describe Han China’s political and commercial relationships with nomadic tribes in Central Eurasia.
  • Identify and describe the impact of the Hellenistic World and the Roman Empire on the Silk Road.
  • Describe and analyze the “golden age” of the Silk Road.
  • Identify and describe the impact of the Mongol Empire on Silk Road cultures.
  • Identify and describe the transmission of art, religion, and technology via the Silk Road.
  • Analyze and describe the arrival of European traders and explorers seeking a “new” silk route in the 1400s.
  • Identify and describe the “Great Game” rivalry between China, Britain, and Russia in Central Eurasia in the nineteenth century.
  • Analyze and interpret primary source documents that elucidate political, economic, and cultural exchange along the Silk Road.

Course Requirements

In order to take this course, you must:

√    Have access to a computer.

√    Have continuous broadband internet access.

√    Have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g. Adobe Reader or Flash).

√    Have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer.

√    Have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.).

√    Have competency in the English language.

√    Have read the Saylor Student Handbook.

√    Have completed all courses listed in “The Core Program” of the History Discipline (HIST101 through HIST104).

Course Information

Welcome to HIST341. Below, please find some general information on the course and its requirements
Course Designer: Christa Dierksheide and Professor Concepcion Saenz-Cambra
Primary Resources: This course is comprised of a range of different free, online materials.  However, the course makes primary use of the following resources from these main websites:

Several articles are authored by Dr. Daniel C. Waugh, Professor at the Department of History and Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington.  The “Art of the Silk Road” exhibit was organized as part of “Silk Road Seattle,” a collaborative public education project sponsored by the Walter Chapin Simpson Center for the Humanities at the University of Washington.
Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course, you will need to work through each unit and all of its assigned materials.  Note that you will only receive an official grade on your final exam.  However, in order to adequately prepare for this exam, you will need to work through the resources for each unit of this course.

In order to “pass” this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the Final Exam.  Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it.  If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again.
Time Commitment: This course should take you a total of 94.5 hours to complete.  Each unit includes a “time advisory” that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit.  These should help you plan your time accordingly.  It may be useful to take a look at these time advisories and to determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit, and then to set goals for yourself.
Tips/Suggestions: This course covers a great deal of history and a large part of the globe so take your time with the material.  Please also read carefully the introductions to each unit as well as the information in the instruction boxes: these show how the material under review fits together and will help you connect one section of the course to the next.  As in many history courses in the Saylor program, it is important that you have a good grasp of the material in each section before moving on to the next, as later coursework is often designed to build upon the knowledge obtained in previous assignments.  It may help to take notes as you work through the course materials, which will be a useful reference as you prepare to study for the Final Exam.

Table of Contents: You can find the course's units at the links below.