Section for the Study of Cultures along the Silk Road

Małgorzata Wielińska-Soltwedel, PhD

Employees: Prof. Ołena Łucyszyna, PhD, Dr. habil.
Małgorzata Glinicka, PhD
Nicolas Levi, PhD
Marek Adam Woźniak, PhD
Krzysztof Gutowski, MA



Joanna Rądkowska, MA


Consultant: Prof. Marek Mejor, PhD, Dr. habil.





Main research areas:

Unlike the first use of the term by Ferdinand von Richthoven in 1877, the Silk Road is here very broadly understood as a system of roads, including the sea route, which entwined Central, Southern and Eastern Asia and led to Europe and East Africa. Similarly, it is not trade but, above all, cultural exchange with its intangible goods such as philosophical and religious ideas, science, literature, art and languages which stands in the foreground of the work of the Section.

Accordingly, there are two main strands of research pursued in the Section. The first one corresponds to the traditional disciplines such as Indology, Tibetology, Chinese, Korean or Mongolian Studies and centres on the examination of the cultures of individual regions along the Silk Road. However, the main task of the Section – consistent with its general vision and complementary to the traditional approach – is to explore these cultures not in isolation, but in mutual contact, which often results not only in taking over foreign elements but also in their creative modification, a typical example of which is Gandhāra’s art, combining Greek and Indian styles.

The subject matter of the research is currently focused on the following issues:

- Interdisciplinary research into religious models (ritual practices and selected religious ideas).
- Sanskrit scientific literature, primarily grammatical, its role in Indian culture and its impact on other texts in the region.
- The thought of classical and post-classical Sāṃkhya, including discussions with Buddhist ideas.
- Jain thought, with particular emphasis on the theory of meaning in Jain philosophy of language and the discussion between Jains and Buddhists.
- Cultural and religious heritage of the Korean Peninsula.
- History of discovering the Silk Road. Travellers, missionaries and scientific researchers in Asia.
- Research into the major trade routes of the Hellenistic world and its surroundings.
- Production and trade in metals in regions linked to major trade routes.

A separate and a very important part of the Section’s activities entails field research. Currently, this research is concentrated around the Maritime Spice Route, connecting the Roman Empire with South India and further with South-east Asia, Korea and China.

The section also organises a series of lectures entitled “On and Beyond the Silk Road: I. Meeting of Cultures.

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