Western China 2015: Along the Silk Road

Tour Leader: Ben Churcher

In May 2015 17 NEAF members retraced the ancient Silk Road across China from Xi’an in the Chinese heartland to Kashgar in far western China.

The Silk Road in China is a defined path linking oasis towns separated by inhospitable desert. On our journey we appreciated that it was not only goods, but also ideas, that flowed along this ‘road’. By way of example we saw many monumental and superbly decorated Buddhist caves – at Maijishan, Binglingsi, Bezeklik and the incomparable Mogao Grottos – all a legacy of the introduction of Buddhism from far-off India. At Xi’an we marvelled at the archaeological wonder of the Terracotta Warriors and in Urumqi we saw the famously well-preserved Taklimakan mummies while at any number of museums we were struck by the range and diversity of artefacts produced by China’s long history. Although concentrating on the ancient, we also could not avoid modern China: including travelling across the Gobi Desert in a high-speed train at over 200km/hr. This juxtaposition of a long and fascinating ancient history with the nascent rebirth of China made this trip a delight for the senses in more ways than one.


Near Eastern Archaeological Foundation
Level 4, CCANESA Madsen F09, University of Sydney NSW 2006 Australia
+61 2 9351 4151 neaf.archaeology@sydney.edu.au