DENVER (CBS4) – The newest exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science is more than 1,000 years in the making.
“‘Traveling the Silk Road’ brings a part of the ancient world to Denver,” curator Steve Nash said.
The exhibit takes visitors on a journey through the ancient trade route from China to the Roman Empire. It’s a journey that begins with tiny silkworms.
In the ancient world, silk was only found in China. Then the Romans found out about it.
“They became infatuated with it,” Nash said. “All Roman women wanted to have silk in their wardrobes and that was really a driving force to connect East and West.”
The Silk Road was a network of trade routes created around 2,000 years ago connecting Africa, Europe and Asia.
Nash said the exhibit shows how silk traveled 5,700 miles — over some of the most treacherous conditions — to reach the Roman Empire.
“In elevation you are going from a point that is deeper than Death Valley and going up over mountain passes that dwarf Mount Evans, and you are doing it with camels that are not always the nicest creatures,” he said.
The exhibit takes visitors from Xi’an, the imperial city of China’s Tang Dynasty, to the Gobi and Taklamakan deserts to Uzbekistan, Baghdad and Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey).
“That is the equivalent of walking from San Francisco to Washington DC and back,” Nash said.
Other goods were also exchanged along the trade routes; as silk traveled west, glass and other goods made the way east to China.
“This is globalization in the ancient world,” Nash said.
To Nash, the exhibit is a metaphor for society.
“This is the essence of what humans do with other humans. They come together, they talk, they trade, they fight, they fall in love,” Nash said. “It should make you think how common we all are as humans; we all have the same needs, the same desires.”
The exhibit includes various features to enhance the experience, such as artifacts, multimedia experiences indulging all five senses and three different volunteer-run educational carts.
The exhibit is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily from Nov. 21 to May 3.
Denver Museum of Nature & Science: (303) 370-6000 or dmns.org