'... will occupy and entertain specialists for some time to come ...' Bulletin of the School of Oriental & African Studies
'Thomas Allsen's book is a very compact and informative account of the cultural changes which took place during the supremacy of the Mongols. Allsen is able to share with the reader his impressive knowledge of the Arabic, Persian, and Chinese sources regarding the Mongols. The cross-cultural links, their implications and their background in this highly interesting period of history are presented in a systematic manner, making the book of great value for scholars in a variety of fields.' Bibliotheca Orientalis
Thomas Allsen is one of the foremost historians of the Mongol empire. His latest book breaks new scholarly boundaries in its exploration of cultural and scientific exchanges between Iran and China. Contrary to popular belief, Mongol rulers were intensely interested in the culture of their sedentary subjects. Under their auspices, various commodities, ideologies and technologies were disseminated across Eurasia. The result was a lively exchange of scientists, scholars and ritual specialists between East and West. The book is broad-ranging and erudite and promises to become a classic in the field.
In the thirteenth century, the Mongols created a vast transcontinental empire that functioned as a cultural 'clearing house' for the Old World. Under Mongol auspices various commodities, ideologies and technologies were disseminated across Eurasia. The focus of this path-breaking study is the extensive exchanges between Iran and China. The Mongol rulers of these two ancient civilizations 'shared' the cultural resources of their realms with one another. The result was a lively traffic in specialist personnel and scholarly literature between East and West. These exchanges ranged from cartography to printing, from agriculture to astronomy. The book concludes by asking why the Mongols made such heavy use of sedentary scholars and specialists in the elaboration of their court culture and why they initiated so many exchanges across Eurasia. This is a work of great erudition which crosses new scholarly boundaries in its analysis of communication and culture in the Mongol empire.
About the Author
Thomas T. Allsen is Professor in the Department of History, The College of New Jersey, Ewing. His publications include Commodity and Exchange in the Mongol Empire: A Cultural History of Islamic Textiles (1997).