Traveling the Silk Road
Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Exhibit Page
May 31- October 5, 2014

Imagine a world in which the latest ideas traveled not by wireless networks but by camel.

Centuries ago, merchants, missionaries and other travelers made their way across Asia, along the enormous trade network known as the Silk Road. Over rugged mountains and forbidding deserts, camel caravans loaded with precious cargo made possible the exchange of valuable goods, ideas and innovations.

Named for the fabric that enticed traders from all over the world, the Silk Road spanned the far reaches of China to the center of the Islamic world from A.D. 600 to 1200.

Take a journey across Asia and discover the spectacular sights, sounds and stories of the greatest trade route of ancient times. Emboss a passport with iconic symbols as you travel through four representative cities. Experience a full-scale re-creation of a night market, complete with spices, luxury goods and precious raw materials.

Walk through a 41-foot-long replica of the prow of an Arabian sailing ship, with a cutaway view of its cargo below deck. Along the journey, discover ancient technologies, learn how silk was made and uncover amazing stories.

Traveling the Silk Road features immersive re-creations of ancient settings, life-size models, engaging videos and hands-on activities. This exhibition is free with Museum admission.

Learn more at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History website.

NOTE: While the following descriptions and photos will give you a taste of the exhibit, they are in no way a complete representation. None of the artifacts were photographed. Only a few representative items from the exhibit are posted here.

You really need to visit the Museum and experience in person this amazing exhibit.

Camel at Traveling the Silk Road exhibit

As you move past the large camel and enter the exhibit you will begin your journey from east to west.

Camels at Traveling the Silk Road exhibit

Be sure to get your passport and have it stamped at the four major cities on your route: Xi'an, ancient capital of China, the fertile oasis of Turfan, the grand city of commerce Samarkand and Baghdad, the center of the Islamic world.

Stamp your passport for Samarkand

Stamp your passport for Samarkand

You will see where silk comes from - including a bowl of live silk worms!

Live silk worms exibit

Live silk worms and cocoons

A brilliantly crafted loom takes the silk worm product and generates the more familiar silk fabric.

Loom for silk at Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Loom for silk at Cleveland Museum of Natural History

You will experience interactive displays, quizzes and fun facts such as:

Silk worm cocoon

You will be able to take a Sniff Test and try to identify spices and other smells from the Silk Road.

and Lisa Wong try the Sniff Test

Taking the Sniff Test

You will enjoy exhibits featuring desert life, fabrics and spices and other features of Silk Road commerce.

Desert life

Desert Life

Fabrics from the Silk Road

Fabrics from the Silk Road

Spices for ailments on the Silk Road

Another camel

Not all the travel was by camel. You will see a model of the ships used and a huge display of the containers used to store goods on the ships.

Silk Road ship

Ship containers from Silk Road

Ship containers from Silk Road

For those with an interest in science there are displays that will fascinate them. For example, the calendar display shows how the ancients used the stars and mathematics to determine dates. Visitors can look through the device, turn the wheels and see the nigh sky change.

Calendar exhibit

Silk Road calendar display

Another fascinating display is the water clock. It is a mechanical marvel that was used to tell time.

Water clock exhibit at Silk Road

Water clock exhibit at Silk Road

Water Clock

This is just a sample of the fascinating artifacts and displays in the Traveling the Silk Road exhibit. All ages and interests will find a lot to enjoy and we encourage you to visit this world class exhibit. Save some time to visit the rest of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History too.

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