Collage of desert scenes. Source: Ryan Bradeen
A journey of a thousand li* begins with a single step.
- a traditional Chinese saying. *a "li" is a Chinese measure of distance equalling a 1/3 of a mile.

This journey explores the Silk Road, the ancient trade route by which the Mediterranean world exchanged goods and ideas with Asia. Throughout history, armies, caravans, missionaries and explorers walked long stretches of this pathway through the heart of Asia, across some of the world's highest mountains and driest deserts.

Every traveler carried knowledge, beliefs, skills and goods. At every stop along the 5000 mile route, at every inn, marketplace and well, travelers talked and interacted with the local people. With every conversation, ideas and values were transmitted. Both traveler and resident saw new things and gained impressions of the other. Travelers learned about the lands in which they passed; local people learned about the world far away.

Through these small interactions ideas like Buddhism and Islam as well as technologies for building pagodas or manufacturing gunpowder were spread from one end of Asia to the other. The ancient world was, as a result, a much smaller and more connected place than we often believe; a small place that moved at the slow gait of a camel loaded with the wares of world.

A Journey of a Thousand Li travels through:

Travelers trekking the Silk Road. Source: A History of Travelers:
Silk Road history through the eyes of those who walked its length.
Chinese peddler carrying goods from all over the world. Source: Wang, China: a history in artThe Transmission of Technology and Ideas:
Student research projects on ideas and technologies that were transmitted across the Silk Road.
teacher and students in Sauid Arabia. Source: Wayne Eastep, GettyTeacher Section

This website was constructed in 2001 by Bangor High School's Asian history students under the direction of Ryan Bradeen, their instructor. We acknowledge the Bangor School Department and the city of Bangor, Maine for supporting this program and the opportunities, such as this website, it has provided.