United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization


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The Silk Roads have always inspired fascination by evoking adventurous travel, trade and exchanges of knowledge. In 1988 UNESCO launched the ten-year-long Silk Roads Project. It organized several expeditions retracing, by land and by sea, some of these routes, with the participation of experts from all the countries involved. The project, multidisciplinary in its approach, involved field studies of the scientific, technological and cultural exchanges that took place between East and West along these routes, and aimed to stimulate further research at international and national levels, thus promoting the concept of multiple identities and a common heritage.

The medal was struck in 1990 when the project entered its operational phase. Two scientific expeditions set off that year: the desert route in China followed by the maritime route from Venice to Osaka, the latter covering 27,500 kilometres and stopping at 21 ports in 16 countries. The steppe route in Central Asia followed in 1991, the nomads’ route in Mongolia 1992 and the fifth, the Buddhist route, took off in Nepal in 1995.

The obverse side of the medal features the project logo, showing the three initial routes in intertwined letters “S” and “R” for “silk” and “road”, within a laurel wreath. The circle also evokes the globe and the human brain. On the edge of the medal is inscribed “Silk Roads - Roads of Dialogue.” The reverse bears the UNESCO logo.

Available in silver.

Photo © UNESCO/N. Burke

© UNESCO 1995-2008 - ID: 26462