Readers will discover through this six-volume work cultures that flourished and vanished from the dawn of civilization to the present time and how the history of the ancient and medieval world was shaped by the movements of peoples in this heartland of Eurasia, stretching from the Caspian Sea to the borders of China.
During the eight centuries covered in this volume, the new faith of Islam arose in Arabia and gradually spread eastwards and northwards, eventually affecting much of Central Asia, the southern fringes of Siberia and the eastern regions of China. These were also the centuries in which nomadic and military empires arose in the heart of Asia, impinging on the history of adjacent, well-established civilizations and cultures - China, India, Islamic Western Asia and Christian eastern and central Europe - to an unparalleled extent. Although the region had always been content to absorb influences from the surrounding civilizations, in the long run, however, it was Lamaist Buddhism which established itself in the Mongolian region and in Tibet, and Islam among the Turkish people of Transoxania, southern Siberia and Xinjiang. It was in eastern Europe, above all in Russia, that the constituting of the Turco-Mongol Golden Horde was to have a major, enduring influence on the course of the region's history.