Dear friends and colleagues:
I am very pleased to announce that the much revised and expanded version of
my annotated translation of the "Western Regions from the Hou Han shu" is
now freely available to all on the "Silk
Road Seattle" website, managed by the University of Washington in Seattle.
It is a translation of Chinese accounts of the development of the Silk
Routes between China,
Rome, India, Persia, and Central Asia during the first two centuries CE.
To access it please go to
http://depts.washington.edu/uwch/silkroad/texts/texts.html and then click on
"Hou Han shu". If you wish to download it or print it out, please remember
that it is composed of a number of files. The main file contains the
Introduction, Index and translated text. There is a separate file for
References or Bibliography and another forms an Index to the main Chinese
characters. Finally, there are 29 separate files of Notes (one for each of
the Sections of the Text). To access each of these just click on any of the
coloured superscript numbers in each of the sections of the text - this will
take you to the appropriate file which can then be downloaded or printed.
I posted a "draft" version in May and sought comments from readers. The
amount and quality of the responses was far beyond expectations - thank you
all so very much for all your encouragement and help. Some have contributed
a great deal of thought and time to this process and I am deeply indebted to
you. I have credited all those whose suggestions or comments I have used in
this revision (I hope I haven't missed anyone). If you downloaded the
previous version please wipe it and replace it with this new one.
Finally, I should mention that I have also done considerably more research
myself and am proposing a significant number of new identifications and
historical details which will be of particular interest to specialists in
this new revised edition.
I would especially like to point out the following new information: I have
proposed that the introduction of sericulture to Khotan took place as early
as the first half of the 1st century CE (see note to Section 4.1); I have
proposed a number of new identifications of places along the route of the
Chinese envoy Gan Ying in 97 CE (see note to Section 10.9); and I am
proposing that the first Kushan Emperor, Kujula Kadphises, was involved in
the invasion and destruction of Parthuaia or Parthyene (the site of the
ancient Parthian capital of Nisa) in 55 CE (see note to Section 13.13).
I do hope this revised edition will provide a reliable and useful tool for
everyone interested in this period of history. One of the great joys,
though, of publishing on the Web is that it is relatively easy to correct
mistakes or add new information. This is an on-going project so, if you have
anything you would like to add or see changed in future revisions please do
contact me personally by email at email@example.com (please don't write to
the very busy staff at the website).
I hope to be able to publish within the next couple of months, and on the
same site, a draft annotated edition of the 3rd century Chinese text, the
Wei lue, which adds considerably more information to that contained in the
Hou Han shu - especially more details on some of the easternmost Roman
dependencies. Following this I hope to be able to add the biographies of
several of the Chinese generals who were responsible for China's contacts
with the West during the first few centuries CE. I will be again looking for
readers' help to correct and refine these drafts. When completed they should
form a widely-available, useful and sound basis for further studies in the
I trust you will enjoy this new edition and I look forward to hearing from
you if you have any comments or queries.
John E. Hill