The World in the Year 1000: The View from Dunhuang

July 24, 2016


In the year 1000, dramatic cultural and political changes were underway in major regions of the world, including East and Central Asia. At Dunhuang, this was when the Library Cave (Cave 17) was sealed. Using the cave's contents as clues—some 40,000 objects, including manuscripts on spiritual, medical, philosophical and mundane matters, as well as paintings and textiles—Valerie Hansen, professor of history at Yale University, reconstructed the larger historical context of the Library Cave, the Thousand Buddha caves at Mogao, and city of Dunhuang, and the surrounding region.

About the Presenter

Valerie Hansen is professor of history at Yale, where she teaches Chinese and world history. Her current research examines the interconnected world of the year 1000, exploring the goods, people, and ideas that traveled from one region to another in a time with no mechanized transport. Her most recent publication is The Silk Road: A New History—for which she received the 2013 International Convention of Asia Scholars Book Prize Reading Committee Accolade for the best teaching tool in the Humanities. Her other publications include, The Open Empire: A History of China to 1600; Negotiating Daily Life in Traditional China, Changing Gods in Medieval China, 1127-1279; and Voyages in World History (co-authored with Kenneth R. Curtis).

This lecture series was made possible by the generous support of Mr. Andrew Cherng and Dr. Peggy Cherng, the Panda Restaurant Group, Inc.

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This lecture complemented the exhibition, Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China's Silk Road.