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A Guide to World History

Required Texts

Scott, James C. The Art of Not being Governed: An anarchist history of upland Southeast Asia - WUSTL eBook * WUL print * MOBIUS 
Morgan, David. The Mongols - WUSTL * MOBIUS * not available as an eBook
Ahmed, Shahab. What Is Islam? The Importance of Being Islamic - WUSTL eBook * WUSTL print * MOBIUS * SLPL eBook 
Chafee, John. The Muslim Merchants of Premodern China: The History of a Maritime Asian Trade Diaspora, 750-1400 - WUSTL eBook 
Brook, van Praag & Boltjes, eds., Sacred Mandates: Asian International Relations since Chinggis Khan - WUSTL eBook
Hopkirk, Peter. The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia - WUSTL * MOBIUS * SLPL (audiobook) * not available as an eBook
Gregory Afinogenov, Spies and Scholars: Chinese Secrets and Imperial Russia’s Quest for World Power - WUSTL print *  WUSTL eBook
Peter Hopkirk, Foreign Devils on the Silk Road: The search for the lost cities and treasures of Chinese Central Asia - WUSTL * MOBIUS * not available as an eBook

Reference Works - A Place to Begin

Oxford Research Encyclopedias - new comprehensive collections of in-depth, peer-reviewed summaries on an ever-growing range of topics (African History, Economics and Finance, Literature, American History, Education, Natural Hazard Science, Asian History, Social Work, Neuroscience, Business and Management, Environmental Science, Oxford Classical Dictionary, Climate Science, International Studies, Politics, Communication, Latin American History, Psychology, Criminology and Criminal Justice, Linguistics, and Religion). Keep in mind WUSTL only owns full access to the italicized subject areas above; you will have to InterLibrary Loan any entry you find in other collections. 

Berkshire Encyclopedia of China: Modern and Historic Views...(Great Barrington, MA: Berkshire Pub. Group, 2009) - provides insight into Chinese history and culture today in nearly a thousand articles that include everything from "Adoption" and "Banking" to "Wound Literature" and the "Zhou Dynasty."

Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period, 1644-1912, Arthur W. Hummel, ed. (Folkestone, Kent, UK: Global Oriental, 2010) - eBook

The Routledge Encyclopedia of Traditional Chinese Culture (Abingdon, Oxon; New York: Routledge, 2020) - eBook

Encyclopedia of Buddhism (Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson/Gale, 2004) – eBook; has entries for “Central Asia,” “Central Asia, Buddhist Art in,” “China,” “China, Buddhist Art in,” and “Folk Religion, China”

The Encyclopaedia of Islam 3rd ed. (Leiden: Brill, 2002-)

The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World John L. Esposito, ed. (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2009) - eBook

Jeong, Su-il. The Silk Road Encyclopedia (Irvine, CA: Seoul Selection, 2016) - eBook

Atwood, Christopher Pratt, 1964- . Encyclopedia of Mongolia and the Mongol empire (New York: Facts On File, 2004) - print

Xizang bai ke quan shu / Encyclopedia of Tibet / 西藏百科全书 (Lasa : Xizang ren min chu ban she, 2005) - print; noncirculating

Academic Journal Article Databases

World History

Historical Abstracts (1955- ) contents include world history journals from 1450 to the present

English Language Journals on Chinese Studies

Chinese Studies Librarian's Guide

CAJ -- China Academic Journals Full-text Database (English interface)

Chinese Language Journal Article Databases

Chinese Studies Librarian's Guide


JSTOR - multidisciplinary, a lot of full text articles, but subject headings are too broad

Academic Search Complete (1975-present) - multidisciplinary; subject headings may or may not be LCSH; made by EBSCO, so allows the broadening to all EBSCO databases or narrowing to subject-specific databases like America: HIstory & Life

JSTOR v. Academic Search Complete


Project MUSE - consists of peer reviewed, interdisciplinary journals from leading university presses, not-for-profit publishers and prestigious scholarly societies.

Scopus - The world’s largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature. Contains over 46 million records, 70% with abstracts, and also includes over 4.6 million conference papers.

Google Scholar - articles from a wide variety of academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories and universities, as well as scholarly articles available across the web. While Google Scholar itself is free on the web, many of the citations it references are not. Accessing Google Scholar via the proxied link will enable you to get full text for all articles for which to WashU community has access  

Primo - is the Washington University Libraries' new search tool. It provides one-stop access to the Libraries’ collections by searching across hundreds of catalogs, indexes, and databases. Primo is a great place to begin your research because it searches multiple library resources through one interface.

Google Scholar v. Primo

Art Exhibition Catalogs

Silk Road

Watt, James C. Y. When Silk was Gold: Central Asian and Chinese textiles (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art in cooperation with the Cleveland Museum of Art: Distributed by H.N. Abrams, 1997).

The Silk Road and Beyond: Travel, trade, and transformation. Karen Manchester, ed. (New Haven, CT; London: Yale University Press, 2007).

Watt, James C. Y. China: Dawn of a golden age, 200-750 AD. (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art; (New Haven, CT; London: Yale University Press, 2004).

The Silk Road: Trade, travel, war and faith. Susan Whitfield and Ursula Sims-Williams, eds. (Chicago, IL: Serindia Publications, 2004).

Bower, Virginia, 1950- . From Court to Caravan: Chinese tomb sculptures from the collection of Anthony M. Solomon. Robert D. Mowry, ed. (Cambridge: Harvard University Art Museums; New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002).

Härtel, Herbert. Along the Ancient Silk Routes: Central Asian art from the West Berlin State Museums: an exhibition lent by the Museum für Indische Kunst, Staatliche Museen Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin, Federal Republic of Germany (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1982).


Kessler, Adam Theodore, 1958- . Empires beyond the Great Wall: The heritage of Genghis Khan. (Los Angeles, CA: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, 1994).

The Legacy of Genghis Khan: Courtly art and culture in western Asia, 1256-1353. Linda Komaroff and Stefano Carboni, eds. (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art; New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2002).

Harrist, Robert E., “The Yuan Dynasty: Chinese Calligraphy under Mongol Rule” in The Embodied Image: Chinese calligraphy from the John B. Elliott Collection. (Princeton, NJ: Art Museum, Princeton University in assoc. w/ Harry N. Abrams, 1999).

Guo li gu gong bo wu yuan, “The Yuan Dynasty: Under Mongol Rule,” Splendors of Imperial China: Treasures from the National Palace Museum, Taipei (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art; Taipei: National Palace Museum; New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 1996).

Lee, Sherman E. Chinese Art under the Mongols: The Yüan dynasty, 1279-1368. (Cleveland: Cleveland Museum of Art; dist. by the Press of Case Western Reserve University, 1968).

Snellgrove, David L. The Chester Beatty Library. A catalogue of the Tibetan collection, by David L. Snellgrove, and A catalogue of the Mongolian collection, by C. R. Bawden (Dublin: Hodges, Figgis, 1969).

Watson, Oliver. Ceramics from Islamic Lands (New York, NYU: Thames & Hudson in association with The al-Sabah Collection, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait National Museum, 2004).

Ancient Bronzes of the Eastern Eurasian Steppes from the Arthur M. Sackler collections. Emma C. Bunker, et al., eds. (New York: Arthur M. Sackler Foundation: dist. by Abrams, 1997).

Tōyō bunko. Catalogue of the Manchu-Mongol section of the Tōyō Bunko (Tokyo; Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1964).

Himalayan Buddhist Art

Klimburg-Salter, Deborah E. The Silk Route and the Diamond Path: Esoteric Buddhist art on the trans-Himalayan trade routes (Los Angeles, CA: Published under the sponsorship of the UCLA Art Council, 1982).

Watt, James C. Y. Defining Yongle: Imperial art in early fifteenth-century China (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art; New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005).

Jackson, David Paul. Patron and Painter: Situ Panchen and the revival of the encampment style (New York: Rubin Museum of Art, 2009).

Latter Days of the Law: Images of Chinese Buddhism, 850-1850. Marsha Weidner, ed. (Lawrence: Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas; Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1994).

Whitfield, Roderick. Caves of the Thousand Buddhas: Chinese art from the silk route (New York: G. Braziller, 1990).

Dieux et Démons de l'Himâlaya: Art du bouddhisme lamaïque: Exposition, Grand-Palais, 25 mars-27 juin 1977 (Paris: Secrétariat d'État à la culture, Éditions des musées nationaux, 1977).

 Rowland, Benjamin, 1904-1972. Gandhara Sculpture from Pakistan Museums (New York: Asia Society, 1960).

Czuma, Stanislaw J., 1935- . Kushan Sculpture: Images from early India (Cleveland, Ohio: Cleveland Museum of Art in cooperation with Indiana University Press, 1985).

Ghose, Rajeshwari. Fa xiang chuan zhen: gu dai fo jiao yi shu / In the Footsteps of the Buddha: An iconic journey from India to China (Hong Kong: University Museum and Art Gallery, University of Hong Kong,  1998).

Pal, Pratapaditya. Himalayas: An aesthetic adventure. (Chicago, IL: Art Institute of Chicago in association with University of California Press and Mapin Pub., 2003).

Pal, Pratapaditya. Art of the Himalayas: Treasures from Nepal and Tibet (New York: Hudson Hills Press in association with the American Federation of Arts: Rizzoli International Publications, 1991).

Kossak, Steven. Sacred Visions: Early paintings from Central Tibet (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art: dist. by Harry N. Abrams, 1998).

Leidy, Denise Patry. Mandala: The Architecture of Enlightenment (New York: Asia Society Galleries: Tibet House; Boston: Shambhala, 1997).

Knoblock, John. Art of the Asian Mountains: A group of paintings, sculptures, and objects from Bhutan, Nepal, Sikkim, and Tibet, lent by museums and private collections (Miami, FL: Miami Art Center, 1968).

Behrendt, Kurt A. The Art of Gandhara in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art; New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007).

University of Missouri--Columbia. Museum of Art and Archaeology. Gandhāran Sculpture: A catalogue of the collection in the Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Missouri-Columbia. Sarla D. Nagar, ed. (Columbia, MO: Museum of Art and Archaeology, 1981).

Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art. Treasures of Tibetan Art. Collections of the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art (Staten Island, NY: The Museum; New York: Oxford University Press, 1996).


Rowland, Benjamin, 1904-1972. Ancient art from Afghanistan; treasures of the Kabul Museum (New York: Asia Society; dist. by H.N. Abrams, 1966).

Tissot, Francine. Catalogue of the National Museum of Afghanistan, 1931-1985 (Paris: UNESCO, 2006).

Rice, Frances Mortimer. Art in Afghanistan: objects from the Kabul Museum (London: Allen Lane, the Penguin Press, 1971).


Kauz, Ralph. “Gift exchange between Iran, Central Asia and China under the Ming Dynasty, 1368-1644” in Gifts of the Sultan: The arts of giving at the Islamic courts. Linda Komaroff, ed. (Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art; New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2011).

Wearden, Jennifer Mary. Iranian Textiles (London: V&A Pub., 2010).

Soudavar, Abolala. Art of the Persian Courts: Selections from the Art and History Trust Collection (New York: Rizzoli, 1992).


Turks: a journey of a thousand years, 600-1600 / edited by David J. Roxburgh, ed. (London: Royal Academy of Arts; New York: dist. by Harry N. Abrams, 2008).

Takeuchi, Tsuguhito, 1951- . Old Tibetan Manuscripts from East Turkestan in the Stein Collection of the British Library (Tokyo, Japan: The Centre for East Asian Cultural Studies for Unesco, The Toyo Bunko; London : British Library, 1997).

Necipoğlu, Gülru. The Topkapı Scroll: Geometry and ornament in Islamic architecture: Topkapı Palace Museum Library MS H. 1956 (Santa Monica, CA : Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, 1995).

Central Asia

Bunker, Emma C. Nomadic Art of the Eastern Eurasian Steppes: the Eugene V. Thaw and other New York collections (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art; New Haven, CT; London: Yale University Press, 2002.

British Museum. The Art of Central Asia: The Stein collection in the British Museum (Tokyo: Kodansha International in co-operation with the Trustees of the British Museum; New York, N.Y. : dist. the U.S.A. by Kodansha International/Harper and Row, c1982- ).

Arts de l'asie centrale/The Arts of Central Asia: The Pelliot collection in the Musee Guimet (London: Serindia, 1996).

Christian iconography and Epigraphy

From Palmyra to Zayton: Epigraphy and iconography. Iain Gardner, Samuel Lieu and Ken Parry, eds. (Turnhout: Brepols, 2005).

Christianity in Asia: Sacred art and visual splendor. Alan Chong, Pedro Moura Carvalho, et. al., eds. (Singapore: Asian Civilisations Museum; Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2016).


China at the Court of the Emperors: Unknown masterpieces from Han tradition to Tang elegance (25-907). Sabrina Rastelli, ed. (Florence: Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi; Milano, Italy: Skira; New York, NY: dist. in NA by Rizzoli International Publications, 2008).

Gilded Splendor: Treasures of China's Liao Empire, 907-1125. Hsueh-man Shen, ed. (Milano: 5 continents; New York, NY: Asia Society, 2006).

Museums Along the Silk Road and Their Collections

Asian Civilizations Museum (Singapore) is dedicated to cultivating an understanding of Singapore’s maritime and multicultural heritage by situating it within the broader context of the archaeological, historical, and art historical developments of Asia and the world. ACM’s thirteen permanent galleries are organised thematically to emphasise the importance of networks and flows of people, ideas, and artistic traditions across boundaries. The museum has a strong collection of Asian export art dating from the 9th through to the 20th century on the Maritime Silk Route, religious material culture, materials and design.

Azerbaijan Carpet Museum (Baku) is the treasury of Azerbaijan national culture. Established for researching, keeping and displaying carpets and carpet items, as well as applied art works, the Museum has the largest collection of Azerbaijani carpets in the world, of different weaving techniques and materials. Its collection numbers more than 10,000 objects, including ceramics, jewelry from the Bronze Age, and metal works, including some from the 14th century. Additionally, there are carpets and carpet items of the 17th-20th cc., gold and silver adornments, national garments and embroidery, and applied art works of the modern period.

Bukhara Museum is the state art/architectural museum-preserve of Uzbekistan and consists of six branches with including 18 permanent exhibitions placed in the architectural monuments. In the depositories of the museum-preserve, there are over 100,000 objects, representing the material and spiritual culture of the region. The collection includes the fabrics produced in silk-weaving centers of Central Asia, clothing, applied art (crockery, furniture, jewelry), archeological and numismatic (coin) collections.

China Maritime Museum is the only national maritime museum approved by the State Council of the People's Republic of China and the largest and most prestigious maritime museum in the country. This museum displays a cultural relics collection with a focus onshipbuilding and navigation technologies such as buoyancy, canoes, planks, sails, oars, sculls, rudders, and compasses in parallel with the main line of time, allowing the audience to have a deeper understanding of Chinese navigation technology The invention and evolution process. [not too many images]

China National Silk Museum (Hangzhou) is a world heritage on UNESCO’s list, is one of the first state-level museums in China and one of the largest textile and costume museums in the world, including galleries devoted to the Silk Road, intangible culture, textile conservation, Chinese fashion, Western fashion, and Xinyou archives. Now it owns collections of not only ancient Chinese silks, but also textiles with other fibers, and costumes from all over the world, especially silks excavated from those sites along the Silk Road, such as Niya, Yingpan, Turfan in Xinjiang, and Dunhuang in Gansu.

National Museum of Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur) is a repository for the country’s rich historical heritage. Its gallaries are divided by” early history; Malay kingdoms in the archipelago, especially governments that exist in the Malay Peninsula and Borneo with a focus the golden era of Malay-Islamic civilization in the region; the colonial Era until independence in 1957, and Malaysia now.

National Museum (Nara) The history of Buddhism is one of the specialties of this museum. The Sculpture Hall presents an overview of Japanese sculptures, mainly Buddhist sculptures from the Asuka period (538–709) to the Kamakura period (1185–1333), with additional artworks from China and other countries where Buddhism might have originated. The collection includes paintings, calligraphy, decorative arts, archaeological works, and ancient Chinese ritual bronzes. Features a collections thematic or advanced database search.

National Museum of Afghanistan (Kabul) collection spans fifty millennia of prehistoric, classical, Buddhist, Hindu, and Islamic heritage and stands as one of the greatest testimonies of antiquity that the world has inherited. Doesn’t have an online collection, but some of their collection can be viewed at the Palace (Beijing) Museum’s online exhibit, Afghanistan: Treasures of the National Museum.

National Museum of Iran (Tehran) contains 300,000 museum objects, is the largest museum of history and archaeology of the country, and ranks as one of the most prestigious museums of the world in regard to grand volume, diversity and quality of its huge monuments. [not really searchable]

The National Museum of Korea (Seoul) is the most representative and extensive museum in Republic of Korea. The museum holds an immense collection: it has more than 310,000 historically valuable and highly aesthetic relics ranging from the Paleolithic Age to the early 20th century, and more than 12,000 masterpieces of its collection are always on display in its permanent exhibition hall. The museum has six galleries: prehistory and Ancient History, Medieval and Early Modern History, Donated works, Calligraphy and Painting, Asian Art, and Sculpture and Crafts Galleries.

Tang West Market Museum (Chang'an) is the first civilian on-site museum in China, established on the site of the West market of the Tang-era Chang’an city. The total collection of more than 20,000 pieces comprises of various cultural relics, and mainly exhibits the cultural relics extracted from the archaeological site of the West Market and cover about 3000 years, ranging from the Shang and Zhou dynasties to the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The collection includes exquisite and mysterious bronze ware, splendid and colorful pottery ware, rich postures of terra-cotta figurines, brilliant gold and silver wares, gorgeous and delicate silk remains, and jade pieces of wonderful workmanship, as well as a great number of relics such as currency, epitaphs, religious, and architectures. It doesn’t have a collections database, but some examples of its Silk Road collection are here.

The Central State Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan (Almaty) is one of the largest museums in Central Asia. Its collections include paleontology (flora and fauna), archaeology (ritual bronzes, ancient gold, stone sculpture, nestorian tombstones), ethnography (garments, carpets, jewellery, dwelling, armaments), photo collections (Nikolay Pantusov, D.Bagaev), and textual heritage.

The Iraq National Museum (Baghdad) is dedicated to the collection and interpretation of the history of Iraq and its environs. The collections consist of mainly man-made objects covering the past 7,000 years. The types of objects in the collection represent Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian, Babylonian and Islamic cultures and include objects made of glass, pottery, metal, ivory, and parchment, among others. [No online collection]

The State Silk Museum (Tbilisi) is one of the oldest museums in Georgia. There are various collections including cocoons from different countries, industrial and handicraft textiles, collection about mulberry tree and its products, natural and chemical dyes, biology of silkworm; collection of old photographs about sericulture, etc. [not very navigable]

Silk Road Museum is located in Jiuquan, Gansu Province along the Silk Road built at the western end of the Great Wall at the fort of Jiayuquan on the site of the Xiliang King’s tomb. The museum’s extensive exhibits include rare, antique ceramics, jades, bronze wares, and artifacts [site made with Adobe Flash Player, which is no longer supported, so pretty bad] 

Topkapı Palace Museum – can’t find online collections