Among other less representative examples, Dunhuang can be seen as a metonym for the documented oases of Central Asia surrounding the Taklamakan desert. The true specificity of the oasis, arising from the Chinese army’s central role there as well as the importation of metropolitan lifestyles and modes production, does not eclipse the reality of a people who were receptive to all influences from sedentary and nomadic Central Asia. In line with the works of J. Gernet and E. Trombert, this five-year program will apply an economic and social approach to the oases of Central Asia and focus on: the role of the army and the Chinese state, from an archaeological perspective (Chinese borders, defence mechanisms) as well as a textual one (with the manuscript documents from Turfan, Dunhuang, Mazar Tagh, etc.), namely because of its impact on the population of these oases; the role of long-distance trade, Sogdian trade in particular, and how it relates to the issue of technology transfers (paper, glass, steel etc.), here again in their textual and archaeological dimension, the role of nomadic economy, whether local or imperial, and finally the role of valley and high altitude pastures, in the mountains that surround the basin.

Scientific output (publications) and planned scientific activities

Seminars, workshops and symposiums, and related publications. A closer collaboration with Beida (University of Beijing) will be considered.






Étienne de la Vaissière (School of Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences)

CRCAO member

Associated members
Étienne de la Vaissière (School of Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences)