This is the fourth of five films in the series Indiana Jones in History: From Pompeii to the Moon. Based on a book of the same name by Justin M. Jacobs, the films look at treasure seekers throughout the ages and acting in various cultures.
The sections which interest us and being shown here are those on China (XXII to XVI). The format seems to be basically a reading from the book illustrated with appropriate photographs of the objects and people discussed.
In this episode we again look at events that happened along the Silk Road during the period of political instability in China for the hundred years up to the end of the second world war.
After traveling through the Taklamakan desert Aurel Stein heard of an oasis in Gangsu that was all but forgotten about: the Mogao Caves at Dunhuang. It was guarded by a local Taoist priest, Abbot Yang, who had been trying to raise funds for his pious works at his own temple.
Yang had found a treasure house of hidden manuscripts, and Stein was keen to buy them. For 200 silver taels Yang agreed to sell 10,000 artifacts to Stein, and he hauled them off to the British Museum, where they remain to this day.
Other adventurers and collectors followed, and Yang upped the price each time, though little did he realise what he was selling was in fact priceless relics of Chinese Cultural history. He is now much revlied in China itself, but this programme makes a spirited defence of his actions.
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