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Technology helps remap original Silk Road route

Updated: 2015-01-02 11:20
By Wang Hongyi in Shanghai (China Daily USA)

Using modern technology, Chinese scholars have retraced the ancient Silk Road to show for the first time the exact trade route that connected China to the Mediterranean Sea thousands of years ago.

The historically important international trade route started at today's Xi'an, the ancient capital of China, and ended at the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, crossing fields, deserts, grasslands and mountains. Since silk was the major trade product along the road, it was called "the Silk Road".

"Based on the studies of historical materials as well as on-site expeditions, our historical geographic information system has accurately presented the line of the Silk Road for the first time and restores its general route," said Professor Hou Yangfang, president of the Institute for Synergetic Development of Fudan University and the Gansu Silk Road Economic Belt.

Hou and his research team have made a series of expeditions through the Pamir Mountains trying to map the ancient Silk Road.

"We expect that the precise positioning and restoration to the section of Hexi Corridor will be finished within a year and a half," said Hou. "If everything goes well, all projects will be finished in three or four years."

The institute will work with the central government and private enterprises to transform the results of its studies into practices, with the development of tourism expected to be first, according to Hou.

"The Hexi Corridor is one of the most beautiful and the most interesting parts of the whole Silk Road. Tourists can feel its historical attractions, and also enjoy unprecedented natural landscapes," he said.

The Institute for Synergetic Development of Fudan University and the Gansu Silk Road Economic Belt were established in Zhangye City, Gansu province in August 2014. As a post-doctoral base for the studies of synergetic development of the Silk Road economic belt, the institute aims to become a key research platform of Fudan University for its Silk Road economic-belt strategy and western development within two to three years.

The institute has formed a strategic partnership with Ruinan Group to better integrate on-and-off-campus strategies and policy resources, and to form a multi-discipline policy and academic research platform. The partnership will soon establish the Silk Road scholarship, the first of its kind among Chinese universities.

wanghongyi@chinadaily.com.cn

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