Secrets of the Silk Road

February 18 - June 5, 2011

Secrets of the Silk Road explores the history of the vast desert landscape of the Tarim Basin, located in Western China, and the mystery of the peoples who lived there. Located at the crossroads between East and West, oasis towns within the Tarim Basin were key way stations for anyone traveling on the legendary Silk Road. Extraordinarily well-preserved human remains found at these sites reveal ancient people of unknown descent. Caucasian in appearance, these mummies challenge long-held beliefs about the history of the area, and early human migration. The material excavated suggests the area was active for thousands of years, with diverse languages, lifestyles, religions, and cultures present. This exhibition provides a chance to investigate this captivating material to begin to uncover some of the secrets of the Silk Road. Read the press release

pm @ pennmuseumSecrets of the Silk Road

Visit the Silk Road Website

Music, Quizzo, Workshops, Fun (Silk Road themed)
Wednesday Evenings
5:00 - 8:00 pm
Free with Museum admission 
See a list of events

Great Adventures of the Silk RoadGreat Adventures along the Silk Road
Monthly Lecture Series
Watch videos of the lectures series on our YouTube channel

Follow the On the Silk Road Blog Follow Jeremy Pine, PhD candidate at the University of Pennsylvania Department of Anthropology, as he blogs from China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. Jeremy's research explores the political and social connections along the contemporary Silk Road that enable average people access to goods to provide for their families. Follow the blog


The Silk Road Symposium was held at the Penn Museum in March 2011. Watch videos of selected presentations on our YouTube channel.


Before Silk: Unsolved Mysteries of the Silk Road
Colin Renfrew (1:00:08)
Thumbnail Indo-European Dispersals and the Eurasian Steppe
J.P. Mallory (49:25)
Thumbnail The Xinjiang Textiles: More Corridors in the Goldmine
Elizabeth Wayland Barber (38:56)
Thumbnail Seeds for the Soul: East/West Diffusion of Domesticated Grains
Michael D. Frachetti (46:34)
Thumbnail The Silk Road in Late Antiquity
by Peter Brown (38:35)




3260 South Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 898-4000


Tuesday-Sunday: 10:00am - 5:00pm
First Wednesdays: 10:00am - 8:00pm
Monday: CLOSED


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