In Our Time

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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the history of ideas


The Battle of Talas

October 9th, 2014

Episode 402 of 515 episodes

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. GUESTS 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.