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The Silk Road

Season 1
Covering 5,000 miles, passing through 13 countries and crossing some of the most dramatic landscapes on the planet, this is the fascinating story of the lucrative trade route which changed the course of civilization forever. In this extraordinary series, Dr Sam Willis explores how the fortunes, ideas and history of the West were shaped and exchanged by travelers from the East.
20163 episodes
Free trial of BBC Select


  1. S1 E1 - Venice
    June 30, 2019
    This famous trade route that radically altered the path of human civilization started with one man who desperately needed one item: horses. Dr Sam Willis reveals how an emperor needed war horses so badly, he traded precious silk for them, kickstarting a network of trading paths that exploded into a global marketplace that would have a significant influence on art, culture and humanity.
    Free trial of BBC Select
  2. S1 E2 - Central Asia
    May 7, 2016
    Dr Sam Willis travels to a forgotten part of the Silk Road and meets with the last few survivors of a race that was pivotal to the trade route’s success. These, and other, overlooked people and their stories were integral to the development of modern mathematics and astronomy. He discovers that bloodshed and tragedy along the route sparked cultural, technical and artistic revolutions.
    Free trial of BBC Select
  3. S1 E3 - Iran
    May 14, 2016
    To delve deeper into the history of the Silk Road, Sam Willis ventures into Iran, following an ancient caravan route through Persia's deserts, where he visits a temple where a holy fire has burned for 1,500 years. Finally, arriving in Venice, he learns how the ideas and products that trickled down the Silk Road helped to trigger the Renaissance and Europe on a path of unstoppable change.
    Free trial of BBC Select


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Audio languages
English [CC]
Alastair McCormick
Mike Smith
Sam Willis
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