Silk Road History

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I. Forged twice, first in 500 BC and again in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the Silk Road has enriched culture for 2500 years. Exploration of the Taklimakan desert's edges was first spurred by the Han Dynasty's desperation to defend itself from the Xiongnu. Thousands of years later, European empires saw the trade potential Chinese leaders had seen previously. Archeologists made the perilous journeys of Silk Road traders and began to uncover ancient manuscripts, all the while keeping their own record that very closely paralleled those which they discovered. Sir Aurel Stein, a foremost archeologist in the area, saw the Silk Road as a "… special meeting ground of Chinese civilization, introduced by trade and political penetration,…show more content…
The nomadic Xiongnu warriors' attacks pressured the Han Dynasty to look west for allies and cavalry horses.

A. Xiongnu nomads and the Han Dynasty facilitated the initial travel on the Silk Road.
1. Xiongnu nomads attacked China from the north.
2. Emperor Wu-ti sent Zang Quain to locate allies and stronger horses for the Chinese cavalry.
a. Zang Quain observed some of the earliest Chinese trade in Bactria when he came across porcelain and silk.
3. Before the Silk Road was heavily traveled the Han Dynasty continued exploration.
4. Under the Han Dynasty Silk Road trade began, and some of the first diplomatic connections in central Asia were made.
5. Once sea routes are accounted for, the entire Silk Road network spans 1500 miles.

III. Cities like Changan, the capitol of Han Dynasty, China, grew simultaneously with the development of the Silk Road Network.
A. As centers of trade grew into cities, officials and bandits took advantage of merchants, traveling laden with goods and money.
1. Robbers were such a concern for nomadic traders that they hired guards.
2. Officials appointed by Kings began to tax merchants who passed through their cities. When these taxes were discontinued by higher powered officials because they discouraged trade, the city officials began to demand
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In 754 AD nearly 5000 Turkish, Iranian, Indian, Japanese, Korean, and Malayan people lived in Changan, Making Changan one of the most metropolitan cities on the Silk Road, an anomaly because it wasn't located on a river or coast as most trade cities like Tyre and Antioch were.
C. Cities on the Silk Road were essential for its success and modern understanding of it.
1. Cities Lanzhou and Kashgar have been invaluable to archeologists, well preserved and containing multitudes of records, model of the Silk Road.

IV. North and South routes became distinguished from lesser-used paths.
A. The Northern route began, as all routes did on the Silk Road, in Changan. Then it went through the Yemen Guan known as the jade gate pass, crossed the Gobi desert to reach Hami at the base of the Tianshan Mountains, and passed through the oases Turfan and Kuqua.
B. The Southern route began by traversing the Jade Gate pass too. But then it branched off to pass through cities Miran, Hetian, Sache, then reconnecting with the Northern route.
C. Traveling the Silk Road was an arduous task.
1. Most traders carried goods on a portion of the road then handed them off to another trade to be carried another portion. Each time goods changed hands their price was marked
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