Graduate Student at UMass Receives Fulbright to Study Impact of Ancient Silk Road Trade

AMHERST, Mass. – Julia Fan, a doctoral student in anthropology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has been awarded a Fulbright grant to study how Asia’s Silk Road trade affected health and human activity during the Iron and Bronze ages.

While conducting her research, Fan will be based at the Frontier Archaeology Center of Jilin University in Changchun, China.

“Time travel may not be possible, but I think anthropology provides the closest thing with the potential to illuminate life and behavior in the past and present through the study of human skeletal remains and their associated material culture,” says Fan. “My research will involve the study of human skeletal remains from archaeological sites in Xinjiang and the Taklimakan Desert. This region was at the crossroads of Silk Road trade networks and continues to be an ethnically and culturally diverse area today.”

By examining the skeletal remains from the Silk Road sites, Fan hopes to glean evidence that is consistent with biological stress, lethal or non-lethal conflict, and communities in transition. “I hope to contribute to a better understanding of how trade, migration and contact directly and indirectly affect individual and population health and activity patterns,” says Fan.

Fulbright grants are awarded to U.S. citizens and nationals of other countries for a variety of educational activities, primarily university lecturing, advanced research, graduate study and teaching in elementary and secondary schools. Since the program’s inception, more than 250,000 participants—chosen for their leadership potential—have had the opportunity to observe each other’s political, economic and cultural institutions.