The Arrival of Belief:religion and art at the extremities of the Silk Roads, AD 500-800

Author(s): Sam Nixon; Simon Kaner

Year: 2017


Most studies of Silk Road connections between East Asia and Europe focus on exchanges between China and the Roman and Byzantine worlds. In Japan however the eastern Silk Road terminus is regarded as Nara where the Imperial Palace gathered a wealth of treasures from Central Asia. At the other end of Eurasia, silk and Buddhist images discovered in northwestern Europe testify to the Silk Road’s significance beyond its commonly-accepted western terminus. This presentation seeks to insert these outlying regions into the Silk Road narrative by focusing on Japan and the British Isles, examining the role of religion and art in the period of great trans-continental change following the collapse of Roman and Han empires. Between the 6th and 8th centuries AD, Buddhism became established in the Japanese archipelago, stimulating the coalescence of indigenous beliefs into what became known as Shinto. Meanwhile, at the other end of Eurasia, Christianity spread through the British Isles, absorbing many elements of Celtic and Saxon spirituality. The arrival of these continental religions coincided with other important changes, including the demise of mounded tombs as energy was redirected towards temple building in Japan and church building in Britain, closely related to the emergence of new nations.

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The Arrival of Belief:religion and art at the extremities of the Silk Roads, AD 500-800. Sam Nixon, Simon Kaner. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 428999)

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Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16910