The talk on The Making of the Silk Roads: what archaeomaterials science can tell us about the building of the first global economic network by Dr Miljana Radivojević (UCL Institute of Archaeology)

Report by Rosa Vercoe, BUS Communications Director

On 20 February 2020, the British-Uzbek Society together with the Uzbekistan Embassy in London organised a talk by Dr Miljana Radivojević, a lecturer from the UCL Institute of Archaeology.

Dr Radivojević presented a talk on The Making of the Silk Roads: what archaeomaterials science can tell us about the building of the first global economic network.

Miljana mentioned the growing interest in the history and pre-history of the Silk Road and the importance of recognising a number of Silk Roads rather than a single Silk Road.  The multiple Silk Roads were crossing the continents via Central Asia creating highways for transporting different commodities: silks, spices, china, textiles, wheat, millet grains, metal objects, artefacts, etc. In addition, the Silk Roads were transmitting new knowledge, languages, ideas, cultures, religions and philosophies. The fascination and inquisitiveness about the Silk Roads has resulted in a number of documentaries, TV programmes, films, exhibitions, books and articles exploring different angles and periods of the Silk Roads history.

In her lecture, Dr Radivojević mainly focused on exchange of ores and metal objects that can be traced back to the prehistory of the Silk Road long before silk was in vogue.  The research and scientific analysis of the pre-historic objects made of tin metals, copper, bronze and other metals confirmed that ores and metals played a fundamentally transformative role in the activities of the steppe communities laying the foundations for the first global economic network. In this sense archaeology and materials science go hand in hand with discovering some fascinating facts and new knowledge about the prehistory of the Silk Roads, linking Central Asia, the Eurasian Steppe and most of Europe during the 4th – 1st millennium BC.  According to the speaker, the technological knowledge of the economy of the Silk Roads enables us to discover the pre-modern globalisation of Eurasian continent, the process that took place far long before the Belt and Road initiative.

Dr Miljana Radivojević shared her plans to continue further archaeological research in the prehistoric metals’ production and supply chains in Uzbekistan’s Zaravshan Valley. She believes that Uzbekistan with its network of hubs and caravanserais, built in the era of the Silk Roads, is the place for new discoveries enabling an in-depth research in the history of metals and ores which played an important role in building first pre-historic economic networks and facilitating interconnectedness of the Eurasian continent. Please listen to the full interview given by Dr Radivojević on the BUS Society YouTube channel.

The talk was attended by members of the BUS Society, invited guests, academics and students from the UCL Institute of Archaeology and other London-based universities.  Following the lecture and a lively Q&A, all guests were invited to the reception, generously hosted by Uzbekistan Embassy.