Spring 2012

Buddhism on the Silk Road

Listed in: , as COLQ-238


Maria R. Heim (Section 01)


The "Silk Road" is shorthand for 1500 years of economic and cultural exchange across Eurasia. We focus on one important historical process along the Silk Road:  Buddhism’s journey from India to Central and East Asia as it was conveyed by monks and merchants along these ancient international trade routes. The course focuses on how the natural environment, political and economic forces, and interactions among various religious and cultural forms shaped the dissemination, establishment, and ultimate decline of Buddhism in this part of Asia. We will study key sites in Gandhara, the Tarim Basin, and Dunhuang, which have left fascinating archaeological and textual evidence indicating once-thriving Buddhist centers. We will also read travel narratives of Chinese pilgrims to India. We will learn how to study this varied evidence and uncover what it can tell us of the nature and impact of Buddhism in this region.  To end the semester, each student will propose a topic and develop a prospectus for an original research project. This course is part of a new model of tutorials at Amherst designed to enable students to engage in substantive and collaborative research with faculty.  It is open to sophomores interested in research.

 Enrollment with consent of the instructor. Limited to six sophomores. Spring semester.  Professor Heim.

If Overenrolled: To be determined by the professor.


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012