The Silk Road

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Introduction Human beings have always moved from place to place and traded with their neighbours, exchanging goods, skills and ideas. Throughout history, Eurasia was criss-crossed with communication routes and paths of trade, which gradually linked up to form what are known today as the Silk Roads; routes across both land and sea, along which silk and many other goods were exchanged between people from across the world. Maritime routes were an important part of this network, linking East and West by sea, and were used for the trade of spices in particular, thus becoming known as the Spice Routes. These vast networks carried more than just merchandise and precious commodities however: the constant movement and mixing of populations also brought…show more content…
In the mid-nineteenth century, the German geologist, Baron Ferdinand von Richthofen, named the trade and communication network Die Seidenstrasse (the Silk Road), and the term, also used in the plural, continues to stir imaginations with its evocative mystery. History The Silk Road may have formally opened up trade between the Far East and Europe during the Han Dynasty, which ruled China from 206 B.C. to 220 A.D., but the transport of goods and services along these routes dates back even further. The Persian Royal Road, which connected Susa (in present-day Iran) more than 1,600 miles west to Sardis (near the Mediterranean Sea in modern Turkey), was established by the Persian ruler Darius I during the Achaemenid Empire—some 300 years before the opening of the Silk Road. The Persians also expanded the Royal Road to include smaller routes that connected Mesopotamia to the Indian subcontinent as well as northern Africa via Egypt. The first major step in opening the Silk Road between the East and the West came with the expansion of Alexander the Great 's empire into Central Asia. In August 329 B.C.E., at the mouth of the Fergana Valley in Tajikistan he founded the city of Alexandria Eschate or "Alexandria the Furthest. This later became a major staging point on the northern Silk…show more content…
Commodities such as paper and gunpowder, both invented by the Chinese during the Han Dynasty, had obvious and lasting impacts on culture and history in the West. They were also among the most-traded items between the East and West. Paper was invented in China during the 3rd century B.C., and its use spread via the Silk Road, arriving first in Samarkand in around 700 A.D., before moving to Europe through the then-Islamic ports of Sicily and Spain. Of course, paper’s arrival in Europe fostered significant industrial change, with the written word becoming a key form of mass communication for the first time. The eventual development of the Gutenberg press allowed for the mass production of books and, later, newspaper, which enabled a wider exchange of news and information. In addition, the rich spices of the East quickly became popular in the West, and changed cuisine across much of Europe. Similarly, techniques for making glass migrated eastward to China from the Islamic
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