The western world owes its roots not only to Greco-Roman culture, Frankopan tells us in this fresh reassessment of our heritage from the past. “Our world was made on and by the Silk Roads.” (Note the plural “roads.”) For this author, the West owes much more to the enlightened lands to the east, which were once the economic, cultural and social center of the world, than has previously been acknowledged. “Since antiquity, raw materials, luxury goods, religions, philosophies, and technologies have travelled from Asia Minor, the Caucasus, and the Middle East,” driving not only economies and events in the West but the growth of nations worldwide. Frankopan fascinates with diverse examples of the life-changing impact of these interchanges with the East, from the silk and slave trades to the Black Death to the Buddhist influence on Christianity.
Coincidentally, the January 29 AIA public lecture program at the Scarsdale Library will also be on the Silk Roads, but with the focus on archaeobotany: tracing the spread of seeds, plants and farming along the trade routes from ancient times to today’s dinner tables. It will be the perfect aperitif to our book club high tea.
The March 16 selection will be Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari.