China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
On the basis of contemporary narrative sources it is commonly assumed that the dissolution of the Yeke Mongγol Ulus and the mid-14th century crisis marked an end to the blossoming overland connections between East, Central and West Asia. During the empire’s heyday, East Turkestan in general and the Turfan region in particular played an outstanding role in these connections, greatly benefitting from the imperial Mongol postal system (Mong.: ǰam Turk.: yam). The Old Uyghur and Middle Mongolian documents unearthed in this region offer considerable insights into the inland traffic of the 13th–14th centuries. Moreover, nowadays the temporal dimensions of this overland communication can be studied better than ever before, due to the already established relative chronology of the Uyghur documents (Moriyasu Takao, 2004), the dating of the Uyghur administrative orders (Matsui Dai, 2014), and the near-complete dating of most Middle Mongolian documents (Franke Herbert, 1962; Rybatzki Volker, 1997). The present paper, through connecting these temporal strata to the information of the narrative sources will draw a more sophisticated picture of the state of communication in mid-14th century East Turkestan, thereby assessing the impact of the Eurasian crisis on this hub of the Silk Roads.