Visual Archives of the Silk and Spice Routes

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This archive is dedicated to sharing visual narratives of the Silk and Spice Routes as captured through images and film. Allow yourself to reimagine, reinterpret, and re-evaluate your understanding of the people, places, and objects that shaped the Silk and Spice Route.


Tombouctou Manuscripts Project

Tombouctou MS

Since its inception over a decade ago, the Tombouctou Manuscripts Project has been dedicated to the study and translation of a vast and varied collection of digitized manuscripts in Timbuktu. The project addresses the history of the book in Africa and aims to clarify the material archive in which these texts reside. In recent years, the Tombouctou Manuscripts Project has begun to focus on Arabic writing cultures throughout the Africa, thus situating itself in broader literary, historical, and theoretical discourses. 


Virtual Angkor

Virtual Angkor is a groundbreaking collaboration between Virtual History Specialists, Archaeologists and Historians designed to bring the Cambodian metropolis of Angkor to life. Built for the classroom, it has been created to take students into a 3D world and to use this simulation to ask questions about Angkor’s place in larger networks of trade and diplomacy, its experience with climate variability and the structure of power and kingship that underpinned the city.


The International Dunhuang Project

For over a millennium, the cave library in Dunhuang—an oasis town on the Silk Road in western China—remained sealed and secluded until 1900. Today, the International Dunhuang Project is committed to providing free, worldwide access to the wealth of manuscripts, documents, paintings, and artifacts that have been excavated from the cave, complete with cataloguing and contextual information. The IDP provides opportunities for outreach and education, and through its collaborative efforts in research, digitization, and cataloguing, will soon have 90% of its collections available online for everyone to explore.


Rome Reborn

This exciting project has set out to create a digital model of Rome’s development from its earliest settlement until its decline (c. 552 C.E.). Rome Reborn has gathered myriad archaeological data from excavations, inscriptions, and literary sources, as well as quantitative data about building types throughout the fourteen regions of the city. All of this data has been collected in order to  reconstruct the city as accurately as possible through 3D images and modeling. The developers of this project are hoping to work collaboratively with other scholars in order that their digital model be as accurate and detailed as possible.


China Historical Geographic Information System

Established in 2001, CHGIS provides scholars and researchers a database of administrative units and populated areas in China from the unification (222 B.C.E.) through the end of the dynastic period (1911 C.E.). With access to this wealth of statistical information, users of CHGIS are able to easily search and track the changes to all recorded geographical entities in Chinese history, and can compare such evolutions to current geographic formations. The spatial and temporal relationships offered by CHGIS prove to be an invaluable tool for any scholar of Chinese geography and history.


Restoring Byzantium (Kariye Camii)

This project is centered on the building and expansion of the Late Byzantine church, Kariye Camii. The church, which underwent a massive restoration in the first half of the thirteenth century, was a mosque in the nineteenth century, resulting in a rich and beautiful combination of interior and exterior architecture. In 2004, Restoring Byzantium held an exhibit at the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University in order to display the artwork and objects rediscovered during renovation. The project site offers many resources to visitors including photographs of artwork, before-and-after images, and extensive bibliographies.


Zamani Project

In an effort to increase awareness of African heritage, researchers at the University of Cape Town launched the Zamani Project. The project team works to create Geographic Information Systems and 3D models of archeological sites in places such as Ghana, Mali, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and South Africa. Other interesting features the project offers include panorama tours, laser scans, and the possibility for exploration of a virtual world. Those involved in the project have been researching and documenting African cultural heritage sites since 2004. The Zamani Project serves as a wonderful combination of information on architecture and the landscapes that surround the cultural sites.


Soundscape of medieval Abbasid city

Developed for a university level course on daily life in the Islamic Middle Ages, this soundscape is meant to go with a slide show and discussion of urban life to give the sense of what it would sound like to walk through a city like Baghdad, Cairo, or Damascus around 1000 AD - including a market, animal noises, horse/donkeys passing by, public fountains, and the adhan (Islamic call to prayer) issuing from multiple mosques at the same time.


Urban Space at Songo Mnara

Songo Mnara is one of the more prominent Swahili stonetowns, nestled in the Kilwa archipelago on the southern coast of Tanzania. Songo Mnara was a central participant in Indian Ocean commerce during the 15th and 16th centuries AD, facilitating exchanges of goods from the African continent with traders from ports in the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, and western India. The importance of this site is underscored by its inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage site list.



Hosted at the University of California, Berkeley, this site explores the medieval African epic about Sundiata, the founder of the empire of Mali. Teaching resources for all age groups.

The Travels of Ibn Battuta

Ibn Battuta

Hosted at the University of California, Berkeley, this site follows the fourteenth century Muslim traveler who documented almost thirty years of world travel. Teaching resources for all age groups.


Explore the archaeology, history and culture of Africa through its heritage sites and landscapes. Requires institutional login.

Decentering the Middle Ages


This conference on the Global Middle Ages at the University of Michigan in 2019 provides valuable bibliographical resources for research into the Global Middle Ages and serves as a model for organizing a conference on the topic.