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The Battle of Talas

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Battle of Talas, a conflict between Arab and Chinese forces which took place in central Asia in AD751.

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the Battle of Talas, a significant encounter between Arab and Chinese forces which took place in central Asia in 751 AD. It brought together two mighty empires, the Abbasid Caliphate and the Tang Dynasty, and although not well known today the battle had profound consequences for the future of both civilisations. The Arabs won the confrontation, but the battle marks the point where the Islamic Empire halted its march eastwards, and the Chinese stopped their expansion to the west. It was also a point of cultural exchange: some historians believe that it was also the moment when the technology of paper manufacture found its way from China to the Western world.


Hilde de Weerdt, Professor of Chinese History at Leiden University

Michael Höckelmann, British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of History at King's College London

Hugh Kennedy, Professor of Arabic at SOAS, University of London

Producer: Thomas Morris.

Available now

45 minutes

Last on

Thu 9 Oct 2014 21:30


Hilde De Weerdt at Leiden University

Michael Höckelmann at King's College London

Hugh Kennedy at SOAS, University of London

Battle of Talas - Wikipedia



Christopher I. Beckwith, Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present (Princeton University Press, 2011)

Jerry H. Bentley, Old World Encounters: Cross-Cultural Contacts and Exchanges in Pre-Modern Times (Oxford University Press, 1993)

Jonathan Bloom, Paper Before Print: The History and Impact of Paper in the Islamic World (Yale University Press, 2001)

Nicola Di Cosmo (ed.), Warfare in Inner Asian History (500-1800) (Brill, 2001)

Michael R. Drompp, Tang China and the Collapse of the Uighur Empire: A Documentary History (Brill, 2004)

Johan Elverskog, Buddhism and Islam on the Silk Road (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013)

Valerie Hansen, The Silk Road: A New History (Oxford University Press, 2012)

Hugh Kennedy, The Great Arab Conquests: How The Spread Of Islam Changed The World We Live In (Phoenix Books, 2007)

Xinru Liu, The Silk Road in World History (Oxford University Press, 2010)

Hyunhee Park, Mapping the Chinese and Islamic Worlds: Cross-Cultural Exchange in Pre-Modern Asia (Cambridge University Press, 2012)

Jonathan Karam Skaff, Sui-Tang China and Its Turko-Mongol Neighbors: Culture, Power and Connections, 580-800 (Oxford University Press, 2012)



Role Contributor
Presenter Melvyn Bragg
Interviewed Guest Hilde de Weerdt
Interviewed Guest Michael Hockelmann
Interviewed Guest Hugh Kennedy
Producer Thomas Morris


  • Thu 9 Oct 2014 09:00
  • Thu 9 Oct 2014 21:30

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