The Role of Religion in Urban Form During the 7th and 8th Centuries AD at the Extremities of the Silk Roads

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This paper examines one aspect of a larger international project, Nara to Norwich: Arrivals and Beliefs at the Extremities of the Silk Roads AD 500-1000, namely the role of Christianity and Buddhism in the establishment of urban forms and concepts of the urban at the extremities of the Silk Roads from AD 500-1000. New urban forms were implanted and adapted to the existing settlement pattern. In this chapter, these palimpsests are discussed as ‘landscapes of conversion’. Focusing on the arrival of new religions and the mutual interactions between incoming ideas and indigenous beliefs, the ways in which these notions influenced the forms of urban development in these two Eurasian extremities are explored here. We argue that the link between monasticism and urban form can be seen in both extremities—Japan and the North and Irish Sea areas—and that they derive from interactions on the Silk Roads. The early development of monasticism in the Indus River Valley set the template for Buddhist practice and possibly influenced early Christian monastic practice. These practices and the model of education that they carried with them proved robust and adaptable to new situations. Eventually, they spread across the whole of Eurasia and beyond.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationImperial Horizons of the Silk Roads
Subtitle of host publicationArchaeological Case Studies
EditorsBranka Franicevic, Marie Nicole Pareja
Place of PublicationOxford
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-80327-405-8
ISBN (Print)978-1-80327-404-1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2023


  • Urban
  • monasticism
  • Korea
  • Japan
  • Northwest Europe
  • Silk roads

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