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Information and Secrecy on the Silk Road. Methods of Encryption of Legal Documents in Inner Asia (3th-4th century)

Szabolcs Felföldi


The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of studies concerning the linkage between the very complex system of the great Inner Asian Silk Road and the history of information. In an era where literacy was acquiring larger and larger importance beside the verbal information transmitting methods, the “filtering” (that is, privacy management) techniques became especially important, whose purpose was to keep the information inside a defined circle by the encryption or coding of written documents. Hence this paper cover not just general problems of transmitting information along the Silk Road, but also deals with the special methods of encryption or coding of Kharosthi documents. These legal documents can shed light on everyday life of the Silk Road during the 3th–4th centuries, and they help us understand processes of administration, diplomacy and information techniques of that era


Silk road, Methods of ecryption, Legal documents, Seals, Aurel Stein

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