The ancient Maritime Silk Route was a series of loosely interconnected ancient seaborne trading routes that linked China to Southeast Asia, India, the Persian Gulf, and East Africa. Derived from von Richthofen's Die Seidenstrasse, the now contested term evokes China's first maritime expedition in 111 BC when Han-dynasty Emperor Wu (reign 141–87 BC) sent a group of envoys carrying gold and silk to Southeast Asia and India. In the 2,000 years that followed, the Maritime Silk Route emerged as a new economic architecture that extended beyond mercantile trade to social interaction, political dependence, cultural domination, and a shift in geopolitical power that contributed to the development of many of the world's great civilisations. Considering China's Silk Route shipwrecks, Sarah will explore the history and development of the Maritime Silk Route and the networks that facilitated it.
About the speaker
Educated at the universities of Southampton and Leiden, Sarah Ward is recognised as one of Asia Pacific's most distinguished and experienced experts in the field of underwater cultural heritage. Currently Visiting Professor of Maritime Archaeology at Dalian Maritime University's Centre for Maritime History and Culture Research, she is a Fellow of the Explorers Club, MIT Ocean Discovery Fellow, L-Università ta' Malta's Masters of Maritime Archaeology Program Adjunct, TAMU ShipLab Research Associate, and Nautical Archaeology Society Senior Tutor. Sarah specialises in the Maritime Archaeology of East/Southeast Asia and has been based in China since 2018.
Image: Survey of Huaguang Reef 1 shipwreck. Photo courtesy of Underwater Archaeology Division of the Cultural Relics Bureau, China