HOME

TheInfoList




The Silk Road () was and is a network of
trade route A trade route is a Logistics, logistical network identified as a series of pathways and stoppages used for the commercial transport of cargo. The term can also be used to refer to trade over bodies of water. Allowing Good (economics and accountin ...
s connecting the
East
East
and
West 250px, A compass rose with west highlighted in black West or Occident is one of the four cardinal directions or points of the compass The points of the compass are the vectors by which planet-based directions are conventionally defined. A co ...
, from the 2nd century BCE to the 18th century CE. It was central to the economic, cultural, political, and religious interactions between these regions. "The Silk Road" usually refers to certain land routes, but it may also refer to sea routes that connect
East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia, which is defined in both Geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The modern State (polity), states of East Asia include China, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan. ...

East Asia
and
Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...

Southeast Asia
with
South Asia South Asia is the southern region of Asia Asia () is 's largest and most populous , located primarily in the and . It shares the continental of with the continent of and the continental landmass of with both Europe and . Asia cov ...

South Asia
,
Persia Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and Azerbaijan, to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Tu ...

Persia
, the
Arabian Peninsula The Arabian Peninsula (; ar, شِبْهُ الْجَزِيرَةِ الْعَرَبِيَّة, , "Arabian Peninsula" or , , "Island of the Arabs") is a peninsula of Western Asia, situated northeast of Africa on the Arabian Plate. At , the ...
, the
Near East The Near East ( ar, الشرق الأدنى, al-Sharq al-'Adnā, he, המזרח הקרוב, arc, ܕܢܚܐ ܩܪܒ, fa, خاور نزدیک, Xāvar-e nazdik, tr, Yakın Doğu) is a geographical term which roughly encompasses a transcontinental ...
,
East Africa East Africa, Eastern Africa, or East of Africa is the eastern sub-region A subregion is a part of a larger region or continent and is usually based on location. Cardinal directions, such as south or southern, are commonly used to define a subr ...
and
Southern Europe Southern Europe is the southern region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth a ...

Southern Europe
. The Silk Road derives its name from the lucrative trade in
silk Silk is a natural Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, material world or universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxies, and all o ...

silk
that was carried out along its length beginning during the
Han dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

Han dynasty
in
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

China
(207 BCE–220 CE). Around 114 BCE, the Han dynasty expanded the
Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the east, and from Afghanistan and Iran in the south to Russia in the north, including the former Soviet Union, Soviet republics of the Sov ...

Central Asia
n sections of the Silk Road trade routes. The expansion was partly led by the missions and explorations of China's imperial envoy,
Zhang Qian Zhang Qian (; died c. 114) was a Chinese official and diplomat who served as an imperial envoy to the world outside of China in the late 2nd century BC during the Han dynasty. He was one of the first official diplomats to bring back valuable inf ...

Zhang Qian
, and partly accomplished through a series of military conquests. The Chinese took great interest in ensuring the security of the products they traded; they extended the
Great Wall of China The Great Wall of China () is a series of fortifications that were built across the historical northern borders of ancient Chinese states and Imperial China as protection against Eurasian nomads, various nomadic groups from the Eurasian Step ...

Great Wall of China
to protect the trade route. The Silk Road trade played a significant role in the development of the civilizations of China,
Korea Korea is a region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics (physical geography), human impact characteristics (human geography), and the interaction of humanity and the environment (environmental ...
,
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an in ...
, the Indian subcontinent,
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...
,
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of scienc ...
, the
Horn of Africa The Horn of Africa (HoA), also known as the Somali Peninsula, is a large peninsula of East Africa.Robert Stock, ''Africa South of the Sahara, Second Edition: A Geographical Interpretation'', (The Guilford Press; 2004), p. 26 Located on the ea ...

Horn of Africa
and
Arabia The Arabian Peninsula (; ar, شِبْهُ الْجَزِيرَةِ الْعَرَبِيَّة, , "Arabian Peninsula" or , , "Island of the Arabs") is a peninsula of Western Asia, situated northeast of Africa on the Arabian Plate. At , the ...
, opening long-distance political and economic relations between those civilizations.Jerry Bentley, Old World Encounters: Cross-Cultural Contacts and Exchanges in Pre-Modern Times (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 32. Though silk was the major item exported from China for trade, many other goods and ideas were exchanged, including religions ( especially Buddhism),
syncretic Syncretism is the combining of different beliefs and various schools of thought A school of thought, or intellectual tradition, is the perspective of a group of people who share common characteristics of opinion or outlook of a philosophy, Lis ...
philosophies, scientific discoveries, and technologies like
paper Paper is a thin sheet material Material is a substance Substance may refer to: * Substance (Jainism), a term in Jain ontology to denote the base or owner of attributes * Chemical substance, a material with a definite chemical composition ...

paper
and
gunpowder Gunpowder, also commonly known as black powder to distinguish it from modern smokeless powder, is the earliest known chemical explosive. It consists of a mixture of sulfur, carbon (in the form of charcoal) and potassium nitrate (saltpeter). The ...
. Thus, the Silk Road was a route not only for cultural as well as economic trade among the civilizations that used it. Diseases including plague spread along the Silk Road. In the present day, trade takes place on the Silk Road on land and on its maritime branch. There are several projects under the name of "New Silk Road" to expand the transport infrastructure in the area of the historic trade routes. The best known is probably the Chinese
Belt and Road Initiative The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI, or B&R), known in Chinese and formerly in English as One Belt One Road ( zh, link=no, 一带一路) or OBOR for short, is a global infrastructure development Development or developing may refer to: Art ...

Belt and Road Initiative
(BRI). In June 2014,
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture) is a specialised agency United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous orga ...

UNESCO
designated the Chang'an-Tianshan corridor of the Silk Road as a
World Heritage Site A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). World Heritage Sites are designated by UNESCO for h ...
. The Indian portion is on the tentative site list.


Name

The Silk Road derives its name from the lucrative trade in
silk Silk is a natural Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, material world or universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxies, and all o ...

silk
, first developed in China and a major reason for the connection of trade routes into an extensive transcontinental network.Waugh (2007), p. 4. It derives from the German term ' (literally "Silk Road") and was first popularized in 1877 by
Ferdinand von Richthofen Baron Ferdinand Freiherr von Richthofen (5 May 18336 October 1905), better known in English as was a German traveller, geographer A geographer is a physical scientist, social scientist and humanist whose area of study is geography, the stu ...

Ferdinand von Richthofen
, who made seven expeditions to China from 1868 to 1872. Warwick Ball (2016), ''Rome in the East: Transformation of an Empire'', 2nd edition, London & New York: Routledge, , p. 156 However, the term itself has been in use in decades prior. The alternative translation "Silk Route" is also used occasionally. Although the term was coined in the 19th century, it did not gain widespread acceptance in academia or popularity among the public until the 20th century. The first book entitled ''The Silk Road'' was by Swedish geographer
Sven Hedin Sven Anders Hedin, Order of the Polar Star, KNO1kl Order of Vasa, RVO,Wennerholm, Eric (1978) ''Sven Hedin – En biografi'', Bonniers, Stockholm (19 February 1865 – 26 November 1952) was a Swedish people, Swedish geographer, topographer, ...

Sven Hedin
in 1938. The use of the term 'Silk Road' is not without its detractors. For instance, Warwick Ball contends that the maritime
spice trade The spice trade involved historical civilizations in Asia Asia () is a landmass variously described as part of Eurasia Eurasia () is the largest continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified b ...
with India and Arabia was far more consequential for the economy of the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
than the silk trade with China, which at sea was conducted mostly through India and on land was handled by numerous intermediaries such as the
Sogdia Sogdia () ( sog, soɣd) or Sogdiana was an ancient Iranian peoples, Iranian civilization between between the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya, and in present-day Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Sogdiana was also a province of the Ac ...
ns. Going as far as to call the whole thing a "myth" of modern academia, Ball argues that there was no coherent overland trade system and no free movement of goods from East Asia to the West until the period of the
Mongol Empire The Mongol Empire of the 13th and 14th centuries was the List of largest empires, largest contiguous land empire in history and the second largest empire by landmass, second only to the British Empire. Originating in Mongolia in East Asia, the ...
. He notes that traditional authors discussing east–west trade such as
Marco Polo Marco Polo (, , ; September 15, 1254January 8, 1324) was a merchant, explorer, and writer who travelled through Asia along the between 1271 and 1295. His travels are recorded in ' (also known as ''Book of the Marvels of the World '' and '' ...

Marco Polo
and
Edward Gibbon Edward Gibbon (; 8 May 173716 January 1794) was an English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval En ...

Edward Gibbon
never labelled any route a "silk" one in particular. The southern stretches of the Silk Road, from
Khotan Hotan (also known as Gosthana, Gaustana, Godana, Godaniya, Khotan, Hetian, Hotien) is a major town in southwestern , an in . The city proper of Hotan broke off from the larger to become an administrative area in its own right in August 1984 ...

Khotan
(
Xinjiang Xinjiang (),, SASM/GNC: ''Xinjang''; zh, c=, p=Xīnjiāng; alternately romanized as Sinkiang officially the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and formerly romanized as Sinkiang, is a landlocked autonomous region An autonomous ...

Xinjiang
) to Eastern China, were first used for
jade Jade is a mineral, much used in some cultures as jewellery and for ornaments, mostly known for its green varieties, though it appears naturally in other colors as well, notably yellow and white. Jade can refer to either of two different silica ...

jade
and not silk, as long as 5000
BCE Common Era (CE) is one of the year notations used for the Gregorian calendar The Gregorian calendar is the used in most of the world. It was introduced in October 1582 by as a modification of the , reducing the average year from 365.2 ...

BCE
, and is still in use for this purpose. The term "Jade Road" would have been more appropriate than "Silk Road" had it not been for the far larger and geographically wider nature of the silk trade; the term is in current use in China.


Precursors


Chinese and Central Asian contacts (2nd millennium BCE)

Central Eurasia Inner Asia refers to landlocked regions within East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and Northern Hemisphere, No ...
has been known from ancient times for its horse riding and horse breeding communities, and the overland Steppe Route across the northern steppes of Central Eurasia was in use long before that of the Silk Road. Archeological sites such as the Berel burial ground in
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan ( kk, Қазақстан, Qazaqstan; russian: Казахстан, Kazakhstan), officially the Republic of Kazakhstan,; russian: Республика Казахстан, Respublika Kazakhstan, link=no) is a country located mainly in ...

Kazakhstan
, confirmed that the nomadic Arimaspians were not only breeding horses for trade but also produced great craftsmen able to propagate exquisite art pieces along the Silk Road. From the 2nd millennium BCE,
nephrite Nephrite is a variety of the calcium, magnesium, and iron-rich amphibole Amphibole () is a group of Silicate minerals, inosilicate minerals, forming prism or needlelike crystals, composed of double chain tetrahedron, tetrahedra, linked at th ...

nephrite
jade was being traded from mines in the region of
Yarkand Yarkant County,, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, United States National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency also Shache County,, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, United States National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency also SASM/GNC rom ...
and
Khotan Hotan (also known as Gosthana, Gaustana, Godana, Godaniya, Khotan, Hetian, Hotien) is a major town in southwestern , an in . The city proper of Hotan broke off from the larger to become an administrative area in its own right in August 1984 ...

Khotan
to China. Significantly, these mines were not very far from the
lapis lazuli Lapis lazuli (; ), or lapis for short, is a deep-blue metamorphic rock , a type of metamorphic rock Metamorphic rocks arise from the transformation of existing rock (geology), rock to new types of rock, in a process called metamorphism up ...

lapis lazuli
and
spinel Spinel () is the magnesium Magnesium is a chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of ma ...

spinel
("Balas Ruby") mines in
Badakhshan Badakhshan is a historic region comprising parts of what is now northeastern Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages ...

Badakhshan
, and, although separated by the formidable
Pamir Mountains The Pamir Mountains are a mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with similarity in form, structure, and alignme ...

Pamir Mountains
, routes across them were apparently in use from very early times. The
Tarim mummies File:KunlunMountains.jpg, Taklamakan Desert in the Tarim Basin. The Tarim mummies are a series of mummy, mummies discovered in the Tarim Basin in present-day Xinjiang, China, which date from Tarim Basin#Early periods, 1800 BC to the first centuries ...
, mummies of non-Mongoloid, apparently Caucasoid, individuals, have been found in the
Tarim Basin The Tarim Basin is an endorheic basin An endorheic basin (; also spelled endoreic basin or endorreic basin) is a drainage basin that normally retains water and allows no outflow to other external bodies of water, such as rivers or oceans ...
, in the area of
Loulan Loulan, also called Krorän or Kroraina ( zh, s=, t=, p=Lóulán Sand dunes in th .... The term Loulan is the Chinese transcription of the native name Krorän and is used to refer to the city near Lop Nur as well as the kingdom. The kingdom was re ...
located along the Silk Road east of Yingpan, dating to as early as 1600 BCE and suggesting very ancient contacts between East and West. These mummified remains may have been of people who spoke
Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, based on speech and gesture (spoken language), Signed language, sign, or o ...
, which remained in use in the Tarim Basin, in the modern day
Xinjiang Xinjiang (),, SASM/GNC: ''Xinjang''; zh, c=, p=Xīnjiāng; alternately romanized as Sinkiang officially the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and formerly romanized as Sinkiang, is a landlocked autonomous region An autonomous ...

Xinjiang
region, until replaced by Turkic influences from the
Xiongnu The Xiongnu (, ) were a tribal confederation A confederation (also known as a confederacy or league) is a union of sovereign groups or states united for purposes of common action. Usually created by a treaty A treaty is a formal ...

Xiongnu
culture to the north and by Chinese influences from the eastern
Han dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

Han dynasty
, who spoke a
Sino-Tibetan language Sino-Tibetan, also known as Trans-Himalayan in a few sources, is a family In human society, family (from la, familia) is a group of people related either by consanguinity (by recognized birth) or affinity (by marriage or other relationsh ...
. Some remnants of what was probably Chinese silk dating from 1070 BCE have been found in
Ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a civilization  A civilization (or civilisation) is a that is characterized by , , a form of government, and systems of communication (such as ). Civilizations are intimately associated with additional char ...

Ancient Egypt
. The Great Oasis cities of Central Asia played a crucial role in the effective functioning of the Silk Road trade. The originating source seems sufficiently reliable, but silk degrades very rapidly, so it cannot be verified whether it was cultivated silk (which almost certainly came from China) or a type of ''
wild silkImage:Muga Silkworm.JPG, Antheraea assamensis, Muga silkworms on a som tree Wild silks have been known and used in many countries from early times, although the scale of production is far smaller than that from cultivated silkworms. Silk cocoons and ...
'', which might have come from the Mediterranean or Middle East. Following contacts between Metropolitan China and nomadic western border territories in the 8th century BCE, gold was introduced from Central Asia, and Chinese jade carvers began to make imitation designs of the steppes, adopting the
Scythian The Scythians (from grc, wiktionary:Σκύθης, Σκύθης , ) or Scyths, also known as Saka and Sakae ( ; egy, wiktionary:sk#Etymology 2, 𓋴𓎝𓎡𓈉, translit=sk, italic=no, ; grc, wikt:Σάκαι, Σάκαι ; la, Sacae), a ...
-style
animal art An animal painter is an artist who specialises in (or is known for their skill in) the portrayal of animals. The '' OED'' dates the first express use of the term "animal painter" to the mid-18th century: by English physician A physic ...
of the steppes (depictions of animals locked in combat). This style is particularly reflected in the rectangular belt plaques made of gold and bronze, with other versions in jade and
steatite Soapstone (also known as steatite or soaprock) is a talc Talc, or talcum, is a clay mineral Clay minerals are , sometimes with variable amounts of , , s, s, and other s found on or near some s. Clay minerals form in the presence of w ...
. An elite burial near
Stuttgart Stuttgart (; Swabian: ; ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') ...

Stuttgart
, Germany, dated to the 6th century BCE, was excavated and found to have not only but also Chinese silks.Christopoulos, Lucas (August 2012), "Hellenes and Romans in Ancient China (240 BC – 1398 AD)," in Victor H. Mair (ed), ''Sino-Platonic Papers'', No. 230, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, University of Pennsylvania Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, p. 31 footnote #56, . Similar animal-shaped pieces of art and wrestler motifs on belts have been found in
Scythian The Scythians (from grc, wiktionary:Σκύθης, Σκύθης , ) or Scyths, also known as Saka and Sakae ( ; egy, wiktionary:sk#Etymology 2, 𓋴𓎝𓎡𓈉, translit=sk, italic=no, ; grc, wikt:Σάκαι, Σάκαι ; la, Sacae), a ...
grave sites stretching from the
Black Sea , with the skyline of Batumi Batumi (; ka, ბათუმი ) is the second largest city of Georgia Georgia usually refers to: * Georgia (country) Georgia ( ka, საქართველო; ''Sakartvelo''; ) is a country locat ...

Black Sea
region all the way to
Warring States The Warring States period () was an era in ancient Chinese history characterized by warfare, as well as bureaucratic and military reforms and consolidation. It followed the Spring and Autumn period#REDIRECT Spring and Autumn period The Spri ...
era archaeological sites in
Inner Mongolia Inner Mongolia, officially the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, is a landlocked autonomous region An autonomous administrative division (also referred to as an autonomous area, entity, unit, region, subdivision, or territory) is a subnati ...

Inner Mongolia
(at Aluchaideng) and
Shaanxi Shaanxi (; , ; Chinese postal romanization, alternately Shensi) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China. Officially part of Northwest China, it borders the province-level divisions of Shanxi (NE, ...

Shaanxi
(at ) in China. The expansion of Scythian cultures, stretching from the
Hungarian plain The Great Hungarian Plain (also known as Alföld or Great Alföld, hu, Alföld or ) is a plain occupying the majority of Hungary. It is the largest part of the wider Pannonian Plain. Its territory significantly shrunk due to its eastern and sout ...
and the
Carpathian Mountains The Carpathian Mountains or Carpathians () are a range of mountains forming an arc throughout Central and Eastern Europe Central and Eastern Europe is a term encompassing the countries in Central Europe Central Europe is the central region ...

Carpathian Mountains
to the Chinese
Kansu Gansu (, ; Chinese postal romanization, alternately romanized as Kansu) is a landlocked provinces of China, province in Northwest China. Its capital and largest city is Lanzhou, in the southeast part of the province. The seventh-largest adminis ...

Kansu
Corridor, and linking the Middle East with Northern India and the
Punjab Punjab (; ; ; ; also as Panjāb or Panj-Āb) is a geopolitical, cultural, and in , specifically in the northern part of the , comprising areas of eastern and . The boundaries of the region are ill-defined and focus on historical accounts. ...

Punjab
, undoubtedly played an important role in the development of the Silk Road. Scythians accompanied the
Assyria Assyria (), also called the Assyrian Empire, was a Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of We ...

Assyria
n
Esarhaddon Esarhaddon, also spelled Essarhaddon, Assarhaddon and Ashurhaddon (Neo-Assyrian cuneiform Cuneiform is a logo up Chiswick_Press.html"_;"title="Coat_of_arms_of_the_Chiswick_Press">Coat_of_arms_of_the_Chiswick_Press_ A_logo_(abbreviatio ...

Esarhaddon
on his invasion of Egypt, and their distinctive triangular arrowheads have been found as far south as
Aswan Aswan (, also ; ar, أسوان, ʾAswān ; cop, Ⲥⲟⲩⲁⲛ, Souan ) is a city in the south of Egypt Egypt ( ; ar, مِصر ), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country spanning the North Africa, northeast ...

Aswan
. These nomadic peoples were dependent upon neighbouring settled populations for a number of important technologies, and in addition to raiding vulnerable settlements for these commodities, they also encouraged long-distance merchants as a source of income through the enforced payment of tariffs.
Sogdia Sogdia () ( sog, soɣd) or Sogdiana was an ancient Iranian peoples, Iranian civilization between between the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya, and in present-day Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Sogdiana was also a province of the Ac ...
ns played a major role in facilitating trade between China and Central Asia along the Silk Roads as late as the 10th century, their language serving as a ''
lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a language or dialect The term dialect (from , , from the word , 'disco ...
'' for Asian trade as far back as the 4th century.


Persian Royal Road (500–330 BCE)

By the time of
Herodotus Herodotus ( ; grc, Ἡρόδοτος, Hēródotos, ; BC) was an Classical Greece, ancient Greek writer, geographer, and historian born in the Greek city of Halicarnassus, part of the Achaemenid Empire, Persian Empire (now Bodrum, Turkey). He ...
(c. 475 BCE), the
Royal Road The Royal Road was an ancient highway A highway is any public or private road A road is a thoroughfare, route, or way on land between two Location (geography), places that has been Pavement (material), paved or otherwise improved to a ...
of the
Persian Empire The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, wikt:𐎧𐏁𐏂𐎶, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, translit=Xšāça, translation=The Empire), also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient Iranian peoples, Iranian empire based in Western Asia founded by Cyrus the Grea ...

Persian Empire
ran some from the city of
Susa Susa (; Cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the ...

Susa
on the
Karun The Karun ( fa, کارون, ) is Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregio ...

Karun
( east of the
Tigris The Tigris () is the easternmost of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia, the other being the Euphrates. The river flows south from the mountains of the Armenian Highlands through the Syrian Desert, Syrian and Arabian Deserts, and empti ...

Tigris
) to the port of
Smyrna Smyrna ( ; grc, Σμύρνη, Smýrnē, or grc, Σμύρνα, Smýrna) was a Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is ...
(modern
İzmir Izmir ( , ; tr, İzmir, ) is a metropolitan city in the western extremity of Anatolia, capital of the İzmir Province, province of the same name. It is the list of cities in Turkey, third most populous city in Turkey, after Istanbul and Ankara; ...

İzmir
in
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country located mainly on Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia an ...

Turkey
) on the
Aegean Sea The Aegean Sea ; tr, Ege Denizi is an elongated Bay, embayment of the Mediterranean Sea located between Europe's Geography of Europe, Balkan peninsula and Asia's Anatolia peninsula. The sea has an area of some 215,000 square kilometres. In ...

Aegean Sea
. It was maintained and protected by the Achaemenid Empire (c. 500–330 BCE) and had postal stations and relays at regular intervals. By having fresh horses and riders ready at each relay, royal couriers could carry messages and traverse the length of the road in nine days, while normal travelers took about three months.


Expansion of the Greek Empire (329 BCE–10 CE)

The next major step toward the development of the Silk Road was the expansion of the
Macedonian empire Macedonia (; grc-gre, Μακεδονία), also called Macedon (), was an ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsAlexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (''basileus ''Basileus'' ( el, βασιλεύς) is a Greek term and title A title ...

Alexander the Great
into
Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the east, and from Afghanistan and Iran in the south to Russia in the north, including the former Soviet Union, Soviet republics of the Sov ...

Central Asia
. In August 329 BCE, at the mouth of the
Fergana Valley The Fergana Valley in Central Asia spreads across eastern Uzbekistan Uzbekistan (, ; uz, Ozbekiston, ), officially the Republic of Uzbekistan ( uz, Ozbekiston Respublikasi), is a landlocked country A country is a distinct territory, ter ...
, he founded the city of
Alexandria Eschate Alexandria Eschate or Alexandria Eskhata ( el, Ἀλεξάνδρεια Ἐσχάτη), literally "Alexandria the Furthest", was a city founded by Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 ...
or "Alexandria The Furthest". The Greeks remained in Central Asia for the next three centuries, first through the administration of the
Seleucid Empire The Seleucid Empire (; grc, Βασιλεία τῶν Σελευκιδῶν, ''Basileía tōn Seleukidōn'') was a Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), off ...
, and then with the establishment of the
Greco-Bactrian Kingdom The Bactrian Kingdom, known to historians as the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, was a Hellenistic-era Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic ...
(250–125 BCE) in
Bactria Bactria (BactrianBactrian may refer to *Bactria Bactria ( Bactrian: , ), or Bactriana, was an ancient region in Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the ...
(modern
Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of t ...

Afghanistan
,
Tajikistan ) , image_map = Tajikistan (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , capital = Dushanbe Dushanbe ( tg, Душанбе, ; ; russian: Душанбе) is the Capital city, capital and largest ...

Tajikistan
, and Pakistan) and the later
Indo-Greek Kingdom The Indo-Greek Kingdom, or Graeco-Indian Kingdom, also known historically as the Yavana Kingdom (Yavanarajya), was a Hellenistic period, Hellenistic-era Ancient Greece, Greek kingdom covering various parts of Afghanistan and the northwest regio ...
(180 BCE – 10 CE) in modern
Northern Pakistan The Geography of Pakistan ( ur, ) is a profound blend of landscapes varying from plains to deserts, forests, and plateaus ranging from the coastal areas of the Arabian Sea The Arabian Sea ( ar, بحر العرب ''Bahr al-Arab'') is a reg ...

Northern Pakistan
and Afghanistan. They continued to expand eastward, especially during the reign of Euthydemus (230–200 BCE), who extended his control beyond Alexandria Eschate to
Sogdiana Sogdia () ( sog, soɣd) or Sogdiana was an ancient Iranian peoples, Iranian civilization between between the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya, and in present-day Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Sogdiana was also a province of the Ac ...
. There are indications that he may have led expeditions as far as
Kashgar Kashgar ( ug, قەشقەر – ''Qeshqer'') or Kashi ( zh, c=喀什) is an oasis In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, feat ...

Kashgar
on the western edge of the
Taklamakan Desert The Taklamakan Desert (; zh, s=塔克拉玛干沙漠, p=Tǎkèlāmǎgān Shāmò, Xiao'erjing Xiao'erjing or Xiao'erjin or Xiaor jin or in its shortened form, Xiaojing, literally meaning "children's script" or "minor script" (cf. "original ...

Taklamakan Desert
, leading to the first known contacts between China and the West around 200 BCE. The Greek historian
Strabo Strabo''Strabo'' (meaning "squinty", as in strabismus Strabismus is a condition in which the eyes do not properly align with each other when looking at an object. The eye that is focused on an object can alternate. The condition may be pre ...

Strabo
writes, "they extended their empire even as far as the
Seres Serica (, grc, Σηρικά) was one of the easternmost countries A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are ...

Seres
(China) and the Phryni."
Classical Greek philosophy Ancient Greek philosophy arose in the 6th century BC, at a time when the inhabitants of ancient Greece were struggling to repel devastating invasions from the east. Greek philosophy continued throughout the Hellenistic period The Hellenistic pe ...
syncretised Syncretism is the combining of different beliefs and various schools of thought A school of thought, or intellectual tradition, is the perspective of a group of people who share common characteristics of opinion or outlook of a philosophy, Li ...
with
Indian philosophy Indian philosophy refers to philosophical traditions of the Indian subcontinent. A traditional Hindu classification divides Āstika and nāstika, āstika and Āstika and nāstika, nāstika schools of philosophy, depending on one of three alter ...
.


Initiation in China (130 BCE)

The Silk Road was initiated and spread by China's Han dynasty through exploration and conquests in Central Asia. With the Mediterranean linked to the
Fergana Valley The Fergana Valley in Central Asia spreads across eastern Uzbekistan Uzbekistan (, ; uz, Ozbekiston, ), officially the Republic of Uzbekistan ( uz, Ozbekiston Respublikasi), is a landlocked country A country is a distinct territory, ter ...
, the next step was to open a route across the
Tarim Basin The Tarim Basin is an endorheic basin An endorheic basin (; also spelled endoreic basin or endorreic basin) is a drainage basin that normally retains water and allows no outflow to other external bodies of water, such as rivers or oceans ...
and the
Hexi Corridor The Hexi Corridor (, Xiao'erjing Xiao'erjing or Xiao'erjin or Xiaor jin or in its shortened form, Xiaojing, literally meaning "children's script" or "minor script" (cf. "original script" referring to the original Perso-Arabic script; zh, s= ...

Hexi Corridor
to
China Proper China proper, Inner China or the Eighteen Provinces was a term used by Western writers on the Manchu The Manchu (; ) are an officially recognized ethnic minority in China and the people from whom Manchuria Manchuria is an exonym a ...

China Proper
. This extension came around 130 BCE, with the embassies of the Han dynasty to Central Asia following the reports of the ambassador
Zhang Qian Zhang Qian (; died c. 114) was a Chinese official and diplomat who served as an imperial envoy to the world outside of China in the late 2nd century BC during the Han dynasty. He was one of the first official diplomats to bring back valuable inf ...

Zhang Qian
(who was originally sent to obtain an alliance with the
Yuezhi The Yuezhi (, ) were an ancient people first described in Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and depe ...
against the
Xiongnu The Xiongnu (, ) were a tribal confederation A confederation (also known as a confederacy or league) is a union of sovereign groups or states united for purposes of common action. Usually created by a treaty A treaty is a formal ...

Xiongnu
). Zhang Qian visited directly the kingdom of
Dayuan Dayuan (or Tayuan; ; ''dâiC-jwɐn'' < : ''dɑh-ʔyɑn'') is the Chinese for a country that existed in in , described in the historical works of ' and the '. It is mentioned in the accounts of the Chinese in 130 BCE and the numerous embassie ...

Dayuan
in
Ferghana Fergana ( uz, Fargʻona/Фарғона, russian: Фергана́), or Ferghana, is the capital of Fergana Region in eastern Uzbekistan Uzbekistan (, ; uz, Ozbekiston, ), officially the Republic of Uzbekistan ( uz, Ozbekiston Respublikasi), ...
, the territories of the Yuezhi in
Transoxiana Transoxiana or Transoxania is an ancient name referring to a region and civilization located in lower roughly corresponding to modern-day eastern , , southern and southern . Geographically, it is the region between the rivers to its south and ...
, the
Bactria Bactria (BactrianBactrian may refer to *Bactria Bactria ( Bactrian: , ), or Bactriana, was an ancient region in Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the ...
n country of
Daxia Daxia, Ta-Hsia, or Ta-Hia (; literally: 'Great Xia') was apparently the name given in antiquity by the Han Chinese to Tukhara or Tokhara: the main part of Bactria, in what is now northern Afghanistan, and parts of southern Tajikistan and Uzbeki ...

Daxia
with its remnants of Greco-Bactrian rule, and Kangju. He also made reports on neighbouring countries that he did not visit, such as Anxi (Parthia), Tiaozhi (Mesopotamia), Shendu (Indian subcontinent) and the Wusun. Zhang Qian's report suggested the economic reason for Chinese expansion and wall-building westward, and trail-blazed the Silk road, making it one of the most famous trade routes in history and in the world. After winning the War of the Heavenly Horses and the Han–Xiongnu War, Chinese armies established themselves in Central Asia, initiating the Silk Route as a major avenue of international trade. Some say that the Chinese Emperor Wu of Han China, Emperor Wu became interested in developing commercial relationships with the sophisticated urban civilizations of Ferghana, Bactria, and the Parthian Empire: "The Son of Heaven on hearing all this reasoned thus: Ferghana (Dayuan ''"Great Ionians"'') and the possessions of Bactria (Ta-Hsia) and Parthian Empire (Anxi County, Anxi) are large countries, full of rare things, with a population living in fixed abodes and given to occupations somewhat identical with those of the Chinese people, but with weak armies, and placing great value on the rich produce of China" (''Hou Hanshu'', Later Han History). Others say that Emperor Wu was mainly interested in Han–Xiongnu War, fighting the Xiongnu and that major trade began only after the Chinese pacified the
Hexi Corridor The Hexi Corridor (, Xiao'erjing Xiao'erjing or Xiao'erjin or Xiaor jin or in its shortened form, Xiaojing, literally meaning "children's script" or "minor script" (cf. "original script" referring to the original Perso-Arabic script; zh, s= ...

Hexi Corridor
. The Silk Roads' origin lay in the hands of the Chinese. The soil in China lacked Selenium, a deficiency which contributed to muscular weakness and reduced growth in horses. Consequently, horses in China were too frail to support the weight of a Chinese soldier. The Chinese needed the superior horses that nomads bred on the Eurasian steppes, and nomads wanted things only agricultural societies produced, such as grain and silk. Even after the construction of the Great Wall, nomads gathered at the gates of the wall to exchange. Soldiers sent to guard the wall were often paid in silk which they traded with the nomads. Past its inception, the Chinese continued to dominate the Silk Roads, a process which was accelerated when "China snatched control of the Silk Road from the Xiongnu, Hsiung-nu" and the Chinese general Cheng Ki "installed himself as protector of the Tarim Basin, Tarim at Wu-lei, situated between Karasahr, Kara Shahr and Kucha." "China's control of the Silk Road at the time of the Han dynasty, later Han, by ensuring the freedom of transcontinental trade along the double chain of oases north and south of the Tarim, favoured the dissemination of Buddhism in the river basin, and with it Indian literature and Hellenistic art." The Chinese were also strongly attracted by the tall and powerful horses (named "Ferghana horse, Heavenly horses") in the possession of the Dayuan (literally the "Great Ionians", the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, Greek kingdoms of Central Asia), which were of capital importance in fighting the nomadic Xiongnu. They defeated the Dayuan in the Han-Dayuan war. The Chinese subsequently sent numerous embassies, around ten every year, to these countries and as far as Seleucid Syria.
Thus more embassies were dispatched to Anxi [Parthia], Yancai [who later joined the Alans ], Lijian [Syria under the Greek Seleucids], Tiaozhi (Mesopotamia), and Tenjiku, Tianzhu [northwestern India]... As a rule, rather more than ten such missions went forward in the course of a year, and at the least five or six. (''Hou Hanshu'', Later Han History).
These connections marked the beginning of the Silk Road trade network that extended to the Roman Empire.Ebrey (1999), 70. The Chinese campaigned in Central Asia on several occasions, and direct encounters between Han troops and Roman legionaries (probably captured or recruited as mercenaries by the Xiong Nu) are recorded, particularly in the 36 BCE battle of
Sogdiana Sogdia () ( sog, soɣd) or Sogdiana was an ancient Iranian peoples, Iranian civilization between between the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya, and in present-day Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Sogdiana was also a province of the Ac ...
(Joseph Needham, Sidney Shapiro). It has been suggested that the Chinese crossbow was transmitted to the Roman world on such occasions, although the Greek gastraphetes provides an alternative origin. R. Ernest Dupuy and Trevor N. Dupuy suggest that in 36 BCE,
[A] Han expedition into Central Asia, west of Jaxartes river, Jaxartes River, apparently encountered and defeated a contingent of Roman legionaries. The Romans may have been part of Mark Antony, Antony's army invading Parthia. Sogdiana (modern Bukhara), east of the Oxus River, on the Polytimetus River, was apparently the most easterly penetration ever made by Roman forces in Asia. The margin of Chinese victory appears to have been their crossbows, whose bolts and darts seem easily to have penetrated Roman shields and armour.
The Roman historian Florus also describes the visit of numerous envoys, which included ''
Seres Serica (, grc, Σηρικά) was one of the easternmost countries A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are ...

Seres
'' (China), to the first Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus, Augustus, who reigned between 27 BCE and 14 CE: The Han Dynasty army regularly policed the trade route against nomadic bandit forces generally identified as
Xiongnu The Xiongnu (, ) were a tribal confederation A confederation (also known as a confederacy or league) is a union of sovereign groups or states united for purposes of common action. Usually created by a treaty A treaty is a formal ...

Xiongnu
. Han general Ban Chao led an army of 70,000 mounted infantry and light cavalry troops in the 1st century CE to secure the trade routes, reaching far west to the Tarim Basin. Ban Chao expanded his conquests across the Pamirs to the shores of the Caspian Sea and the borders of Parthia. It was from here that the Han general dispatched envoy Gan Ying to Daqin (Rome). The Silk Road essentially came into being from the 1st century BCE, following these efforts by China to consolidate a road to the Western world and India, both through direct settlements in the area of the Tarim Basin and diplomatic relations with the countries of the Dayuan, Parthians and Bactrians further west. The Silk Roads were a "complex network of trade routes" that gave people the chance to exchange goods and culture. A maritime Silk Route opened up between Chinese-controlled Giao Chỉ (centred in modern Vietnam, near Hanoi), probably by the 1st century. It extended, Indo-Roman trade relations, via ports on the coasts of India and Sri Lanka, all the way to Ancient Rome, Roman-controlled ports in Roman Egypt and the Nabataean territories on the northeastern coast of the Red Sea. The earliest Roman glassware bowl found in China was unearthed from a Western Han tomb in Guangzhou, dated to the early 1st century BCE, indicating that Roman commercial items were being imported through the South China Sea.An, Jiayao. (2002), "When Glass Was Treasured in China," in Annette L. Juliano and Judith A. Lerner (eds), ''Silk Road Studies VII: Nomads, Traders, and Holy Men Along China's Silk Road'', 79–94, Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, , p. 83. According to Twenty-Four Histories, Chinese dynastic histories, it is from Jiaozhou (region), this region that the Sino-Roman relations#First Roman embassy, Roman embassies arrived in China, beginning in 166 CE during the reigns of Marcus Aurelius and Emperor Huan of Han. Other Roman glasswares have been found in Eastern-Han-era tombs (25–220 CE) more further inland in Nanjing and Luoyang. P.O. Harper asserts that a 2nd or 3rd-century Roman gilt silver plate found in Jingyuan County, Gansu, Jingyuan, Gansu, China with a central image of the Greco-Roman god Dionysus resting on a feline creature, most likely came via Greater Iran (i.e.
Sogdiana Sogdia () ( sog, soɣd) or Sogdiana was an ancient Iranian peoples, Iranian civilization between between the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya, and in present-day Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Sogdiana was also a province of the Ac ...
).Harper, P.O. (2002), "Iranian Luxury Vessels in China From the Late First Millennium B.C.E. to the Second Half of the First Millennium C.E.," in Annette L. Juliano and Judith A. Lerner (eds), ''Silk Road Studies VII: Nomads, Traders, and Holy Men Along China's Silk Road'', 95–113, Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, , pp. 106–07. Valerie Hansen (2012) believed that Roman currency, earliest Roman coins found in China date to the 4th century, during Late Antiquity and the Dominate period, and come from the Byzantine Empire.Hansen, Valerie (2012), ''The Silk Road: A New History'', Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 97–98, . However, Warwick Ball (2016) highlights the recent discovery of sixteen Principate-era Roman coins found in Xi'an (formerly Chang'an, one of the Luoyang, two Han capitals) that were minted during the reigns of Roman emperors spanning from Tiberius to Aurelian (i.e. 1st to 3rd centuries CE).Warwick Ball (2016), ''Rome in the East: Transformation of an Empire'', 2nd edition, London & New York: Routledge, , p. 154. Helen Wang points out that although these coins were found in China, they were deposited there in the twentieth century, not in ancient times, and therefore do not shed light on historic contacts between China and Rome.Helen Wang (2004) "Money on the Silk Road: The evidence from Eastern Central Asia to. c. AD 800," London: The British Museum Press, , p. 34. Roman golden medallions made during the reign of Antoninus Pius and quite possibly his successor Marcus Aurelius have been found at Óc Eo in southern Vietnam, which was then part of the Kingdom of Funan bordering the Chinese province of Jiaozhi in northern Vietnam.Gary K. Young (2001), ''Rome's Eastern Trade: International Commerce and Imperial Policy, 31 BC – AD 305'', London & New York: Routledge, , p. 29.For further information on Oc Eo, see Milton Osborne (2006), ''The Mekong: Turbulent Past, Uncertain Future'', Crows Nest: Allen & Unwin, revised edition, first published in 2000, , pp. 24–25. Given the archaeological finds of Mediterranean artefacts made by Louis Malleret in the 1940s, Óc Eo may have been the same site as the port city of Kattigara described by Ptolemy in his ''Geography (Ptolemy), Geography'' (c. 150 CE), although
Ferdinand von Richthofen Baron Ferdinand Freiherr von Richthofen (5 May 18336 October 1905), better known in English as was a German traveller, geographer A geographer is a physical scientist, social scientist and humanist whose area of study is geography, the stu ...

Ferdinand von Richthofen
had previously believed it was closer to Hanoi.


Evolution


Roman Empire (30 BCE–3rd century CE)

Soon after the Roman conquest of Egypt in 30 BCE, regular communications and trade between China, Southeast Asia, India, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe blossomed on an unprecedented scale. The Roman Empire inherited eastern trade routes that were part of the Silk Road from the earlier Hellenistic powers and the Arabs. With control of these trade routes, citizens of the Roman Empire received new luxuries and greater prosperity for the Empire as a whole.Xinru Liu, ''The Silk Road in World History'' (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 21. The Roman-style glassware discovered in the archeological sites of Gyeongju, the capital of the Silla, Silla kingdom (Korea) showed that Roman artifacts were traded as far as the Korean peninsula. The Greco-Roman trade with India started by Eudoxus of Cyzicus in 130 BCE continued to increase, and according to
Strabo Strabo''Strabo'' (meaning "squinty", as in strabismus Strabismus is a condition in which the eyes do not properly align with each other when looking at an object. The eye that is focused on an object can alternate. The condition may be pre ...

Strabo
(II.5.12), by the time of Augustus, up to 120 ships were setting sail every year from Myos Hormos in Roman Egypt to India. The Roman Empire connected with the Central Asian Silk Road through their ports in Barygaza (known today as Bharuch) and Barbaricum (known today as the city of Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan) and continued along the western coast of India. An ancient "travel guide" to this Indian Ocean trade route was the Greek Periplus of the Erythraean Sea written in 60 CE. The travelling party of Maes Titianus, Maës Titianus penetrated farthest east along the Silk Road from the Mediterranean world, probably with the aim of regularising contacts and reducing the role of middlemen, during one of the lulls in Rome's intermittent wars with Parthia, which repeatedly obstructed movement along the Silk Road. Intercontinental trade and communication became regular, organised, and protected by the "Great Powers". Intense Roman commerce, trade with the Roman Empire soon followed, confirmed by the Roman craze for Chinese silk (supplied through the Parthians), even though the Romans thought silk was obtained from trees. This belief was affirmed by Seneca the Younger in his Phaedra (Seneca), Phaedra and by Virgil in his Georgics. Notably, Pliny the Elder knew better. Speaking of the ''bombyx'' or silk moth, he wrote in his Natural Histories "They weave webs, like spiders, that become a luxurious clothing material for women, called silk." The Romans traded spices, glassware, perfumes, and silk. Roman artisans began to replace yarn with valuable plain silk cloths from China and the Silla, Silla Kingdom in Gyeongju, Korea. Chinese wealth grew as they delivered silk and other luxury goods to the Roman Empire, whose wealthy women admired their beauty. The Roman Senate issued, in vain, several edicts to prohibit the wearing of silk, on economic and moral grounds: the import of Chinese silk caused a huge outflow of gold, and silk clothes were considered decadent and immoral. The Western Roman Empire, and its demand for sophisticated Asian products, Fall of the Western Roman Empire, collapsed in the 5th century. The unification of Central Asia and Northern India within the Kushan Empire in the 1st to 3rd centuries reinforced the role of the powerful merchants from Bactria and Taxila.Sogdian Trade, ''Encyclopedia Iranica'', (retrieved 15 June 2007) <> They fostered multi-cultural interaction as indicated by their 2nd century treasure hoards filled with products from the Greco-Roman world, China, and India, such as in the Bagram, archeological site of Begram.


Byzantine Empire (6th–14th centuries)

Byzantine Empire, Byzantine Greek historian Procopius stated that two Nestorian Christianity, Nestorian Christian monks eventually uncovered the way silk was made. From this revelation, monks were sent by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian (ruled 527–565) as spies on the Silk Road from Constantinople to China and back to Smuggling of silkworm eggs into the Byzantine Empire, steal the silkworm eggs, resulting in silk production in the Mediterranean, particularly in Soufli#Silk museums of Soufli, Thrace in northern Greece,"Silk Road"
, LIVIUS Articles of Ancient History. 28 October 2010. Retrieved 14 November 2010.
and giving the Byzantine silk, Byzantine Empire a monopoly on silk production in medieval Europe. In 568 the Byzantine ruler Justin II was greeted by a
Sogdia Sogdia () ( sog, soɣd) or Sogdiana was an ancient Iranian peoples, Iranian civilization between between the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya, and in present-day Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Sogdiana was also a province of the Ac ...
n embassy representing Istämi, ruler of the First Turkic Khaganate, who formed an alliance with the Byzantines against Khosrow I of the Sasanian Empire that allowed the Byzantines to bypass the Sasanian merchants and trade directly with the Sogdians for purchasing Chinese silk. Although the Byzantines had already procured silkworm eggs from China by this point, the quality of Chinese silk was still far greater than anything produced in the West, a fact that is perhaps emphasized by the discovery of coins minted by Justin II found in a Chinese tomb of Shanxi province dated to the Sui dynasty (581–618). Both the ''Old Book of Tang'' and ''New Book of Tang'', covering the history of the Chinese Tang dynasty (618–907), record that a new state called ''Fu-lin'' (拂菻; i.e. Byzantine Empire) was virtually identical to the previous ''Daqin'' (大秦; i.e. Roman Empire). Several ''Fu-lin'' embassies were recorded for the Tang period, starting in 643 with an alleged embassy by Constans II (transliterated as ''Bo duo li'', 波多力, from his nickname "Kōnstantinos Pogonatos") to the court of Emperor Taizong of Tang. The ''History of Song (Yuan dynasty), History of Song'' describes the final embassy and its arrival in 1081, apparently sent by Michael VII Doukas (transliterated as ''Mie li yi ling kai sa'', 滅力伊靈改撒, from Caesar (title), his name and title Michael VII Parapinakēs Caesar) to the court of Emperor Shenzong of Song, Emperor Shenzong of the Song dynasty (960–1279). However, the ''History of Yuan'' claims that a Byzantine man became a leading astronomer and physician in Khanbaliq, at the court of Kublai Khan, Mongol founder of the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368) and was even granted Chinese nobility, the noble title 'Prince of Fu lin' (Chinese language, Chinese: 拂菻王; Fú lǐn wáng). The Uyghurs, Uyghur Nestorian Christian diplomat Rabban Bar Sauma, who set out from his Chinese home in Khanbaliq (Beijing) and acted as a representative for Arghun (a grandnephew of Kublai Khan),Kathleen Kuiper & editors of Encyclopædia Britannica (31 August 2006).
Rabban bar Sauma: Mongol Envoy
." ''Encyclopædia Britannica'' (online source). Retrieved 16 September 2016.
traveled throughout Europe and attempted to Franco-Mongol alliance, secure military alliances with Edward I of England, Philip IV of France, Pope Nicholas IV, as well as the Byzantine ruler Andronikos II Palaiologos. Andronikos II had two half-sisters who were married to great-grandsons of Genghis Khan, which made him an in-law with the Yuan-dynasty Mongol ruler in Beijing, Kublai Khan. The ''History of Ming'' preserves an account where the Hongwu Emperor, after founding the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), had a supposed Byzantine merchant named Nieh-ku-lun (捏古倫) deliver his proclamation about the establishment of a new dynasty to the Byzantine court of John V Palaiologos in September 1371. Friedrich Hirth (1885), Emil Bretschneider (1888), and more recently Edward Luttwak (2009) presumed that this was none other than Nicolaus de Bentra, a Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Beijing, Roman Catholic bishop of Khanbilaq chosen by Pope John XXII to replace the previous archbishop John of Montecorvino.


Tang dynasty (7th century)

Although the Silk Road was initially formulated during the reign of Emperor Wu of Han (141–87 BCE), it was reopened by the Tang Empire in 639 when Hou Junji conquered the Western Regions, and remained open for almost four decades. It was closed after the Tibetans captured it in 678, but in 699, during Empress Wu's period, the Silk Road reopened when the Tang reconquered the Four Garrisons of Anxi originally installed in 640, once again connecting China directly to the West for land-based trade. The Tang captured the vital route through the Gilgit, Gilgit Valley from Tibet in 722, lost it to the Tibetans in 737, and regained it under the command of the Goguryeo-Korean General Gao Xianzhi. While the Turks were settled in the Ordos region (former territory of the
Xiongnu The Xiongnu (, ) were a tribal confederation A confederation (also known as a confederacy or league) is a union of sovereign groups or states united for purposes of common action. Usually created by a treaty A treaty is a formal ...

Xiongnu
), the Tang government took on the military policy of dominating the central steppe. The Tang dynasty (along with Turkic allies) conquered and subdued Central Asia during the 640s and 650s. During Emperor Taizong's reign alone, large campaigns were launched against not only the Göktürks, but also separate campaigns against the Emperor Taizong's campaign against Tuyuhun, Tuyuhun, the Tang campaign against the oasis states, oasis states, and the Emperor Taizong's campaign against Xueyantuo, Xueyantuo. Under Emperor Taizong of Tang, Emperor Taizong, Tang general Li Jing (Tang dynasty), Li Jing Tang campaign against the Eastern Turks, conquered the Eastern Turkic Khaganate. Under Emperor Gaozong of Tang, Emperor Gaozong, Tang general Su Dingfang Conquest of the Western Turks, conquered the Western Turkic Khaganate, an important ally of the Byzantine empire. After these conquests, the Tang dynasty fully controlled the Western Regions, Xiyu, which was the strategic location astride the Silk Road. This led the Tang dynasty to reopen the Silk Road, with this portion named the Tang-Tubo Road ("Tang-Tibet Road") in many historical texts. The Tang dynasty established a second Pax Sinica, and the Silk Road reached its golden age, whereby Persian and Sogdian merchants benefited from the commerce between East and West. At the same time, the Chinese empire welcomed foreign cultures, making it very cosmopolitan in its urban centres. In addition to the land route, the Tang dynasty also developed the maritime Silk Route. Chinese envoys had been sailing through the Indian Ocean to Kanchipuram, India since perhaps the 2nd century BCE, yet it was during the Tang dynasty that a strong Chinese maritime presence could be found in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea into
Persia Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and Azerbaijan, to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Tu ...

Persia
, Mesopotamia (sailing up the Euphrates, Euphrates River in modern-day Iraq), Arabia, Egypt, Aksum (Ethiopia), and Somalia in the Horn of Africa.


Sogdian–Türkic tribes (4th–8th centuries)

The Silk Road represents an early phenomenon of political and cultural integration due to inter-regional trade. In its heyday, it sustained an international culture that strung together groups as diverse as the Magyars, Armenians, and Chinese. The Silk Road reached its peak in the west during the time of the Byzantine Empire; in the Nile-Oxus section, from the Sassanid Empire period to the Il Khanate period; and in the sinitic zone from the Three Kingdoms period to the Yuan dynasty period. Trade between East and West also developed across the Indian Ocean, between Alexandria in Egypt and Guangzhou in China. Persian Sassanid coins emerged as a means of currency, just as valuable as silk yarn and textiles. Under its strong integrating dynamics on the one hand and the impacts of change it transmitted on the other, tribal societies previously living in isolation along the Silk Road, and pastoralists who were of barbarian cultural development, were drawn to the riches and opportunities of the civilisations connected by the routes, taking on the trades of marauders or mercenaries. "Many barbarian tribes became skilled warriors able to conquer rich cities and fertile lands and to forge strong military empires." The Sogdiana, Sogdians dominated the east–west trade after the 4th century up to the 8th century, with Suyab and Taraz, Talas ranking among their main centres in the north. They were the main caravan merchants of Central Asia. Their commercial interests were protected by the resurgent military power of the Göktürks, whose empire has been described as "the joint enterprise of the Ashina tribe, Ashina clan and the Soghdians". A.V. Dybo noted that "according to historians, the main driving force of the Great Silk Road were not just Sogdians, but the carriers of a mixed Sogdian-Türkic culture that often came from mixed families." The Silk Road gave rise to the clusters of military states of nomadic origins in North China, ushered the Nestorian Church, Nestorian, Manichaeism, Manichaean, Buddhism, Buddhist, and later Islamic religions into Central Asia and China.


Islamic era (8th–13th centuries)

By the Umayyad era, Damascus had overtaken Ctesiphon as a major trade center until the Abbasid dynasty built the city of Baghdad, which became the most important Cities along the Silk Road, city along the silk road. At the end of its glory, the routes brought about the largest continental empire ever, the Mongol Empire, with its political centres strung along the Silk Road (Beijing) in North China, Karakorum (palace), Karakorum in central Mongolia, Sarmakhand in
Transoxiana Transoxiana or Transoxania is an ancient name referring to a region and civilization located in lower roughly corresponding to modern-day eastern , , southern and southern . Geographically, it is the region between the rivers to its south and ...
, Tabriz in Northern Iran, realising the political unification of zones previously loosely and intermittently connected by material and cultural goods. The Islamic world Muslim conquest of Transoxiana, expanded into Central Asia during the 8th century, under the Umayyad Caliphate, while its successor the Abbasid Caliphate put a halt to Protectorate General to Pacify the West, Chinese westward expansion at the Battle of Talas in 751 (near the Talas River in modern-day Kyrgyzstan).Hanks, Reuel R. (2010), ''Global Security Watch: Central Asia, Santa Barbara'', Denver, Oxford: Praeger, p. 4. However, following the disastrous An Lushan Rebellion (755–763) and the conquest of the Western Regions by the Tibetan Empire, the Tang Empire was unable to reassert its control over Central Asia. Contemporary Tang authors noted how the dynasty had gone into decline after this point. In 848 the Tang Chinese, led by the commander Zhang Yichao, were only able Guiyi Circuit, to reclaim the
Hexi Corridor The Hexi Corridor (, Xiao'erjing Xiao'erjing or Xiao'erjin or Xiaor jin or in its shortened form, Xiaojing, literally meaning "children's script" or "minor script" (cf. "original script" referring to the original Perso-Arabic script; zh, s= ...

Hexi Corridor
and Dunhuang in Gansu from the Tibetans. The Persian Samanid Empire (819–999) centered in Bukhara (Uzbekistan) continued the trade legacy of the Sogdians. The disruptions of trade were curtailed in that part of the world by the end of the 10th century and conquests of Central Asia by the Turkic Islamic Kara-Khanid Khanate, yet Nestorian Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, and Buddhism in Central Asia virtually disappeared. During the early 13th century Mongol conquest of Khwarezmia, Khwarezmia was invaded by the Mongol Empire. The Mongol ruler Genghis Khan had the once vibrant cities of Bukhara and Samarkand burned to the ground after besieging them. However, in 1370 Samarkand saw a revival as the capital of the new Timurid Empire. The Turko-Mongol ruler Timur forcefully moved artisans and intellectuals from across Asia to Samarkand, making it one of the most important trade centers and cultural ''entrepôts'' of the Islamic world.


Mongol empire (13th–14th centuries)

The Mongol invasions, Mongol expansion throughout the Asian continent from around 1207 to 1360 helped bring political stability and re-established the Silk Road (via Karakorum (palace), Karakorum and Khanbaliq). It also brought an end to the dominance of the Islamic Caliphate over world trade. Because the Mongols came to control the trade routes, trade circulated throughout the region, though they never abandoned their nomadic lifestyle. The Mongol rulers wanted to establish their capital on the Central Asian steppe, so to accomplish this goal, after every conquest they enlisted local people (traders, scholars, artisans) to help them construct and manage their empire. The Mongols developed overland and maritime routes throughout the Eurasian continent, Black Sea and the Mediterranean in the west, and the Indian Ocean in the south. In the second half of the thirteenth century Mongol-sponsored business partnerships flourished in the Indian Ocean connecting Mongol Middle East and Mongol China The Mongol diplomat Rabban Bar Sauma visited the courts of Europe in 1287–88 and provided a detailed written report to the Mongols. Around the same time, the Venice, Venetian explorer
Marco Polo Marco Polo (, , ; September 15, 1254January 8, 1324) was a merchant, explorer, and writer who travelled through Asia along the between 1271 and 1295. His travels are recorded in ' (also known as ''Book of the Marvels of the World '' and '' ...

Marco Polo
became Europeans in Medieval China, one of the first Europeans to travel the Silk Road to China. His tales, documented in ''The Travels of Marco Polo'', opened Western eyes to some of the customs of the Far East. He was not the first to bring back stories, but he was one of the most widely read. He had been preceded by numerous Christian missionaries to the East, such as William of Rubruck, Benedykt Polak, Giovanni da Pian del Carpine, and Andrew of Longjumeau. Later envoys included Odoric of Pordenone, Giovanni de' Marignolli, John of Montecorvino, Niccolò de' Conti, and Ibn Battuta, a Morocco, Moroccan Muslim traveller who passed through the present-day Middle East and across the Silk Road from Tabriz between 1325 and 1354. In the 13th century, efforts were made at forming a Franco-Mongol alliance, with an exchange of ambassadors and (failed) attempts at military collaboration in the Holy Land during the later Crusades. Eventually, the Mongols in the Ilkhanate, after they had destroyed the Abbasid and Ayyubid dynasties, converted to Islam and signed the 1323 Treaty of Aleppo with the surviving Muslim power, the Egyptian Mamluk Sultanate (Cairo), Mamluks. Some studies indicate that the Black Death, which devastated Europe starting in the late 1340s, may have reached Europe from Central Asia (or China) along the trade routes of the Mongol Empire. One theory holds that Genoese traders coming from the entrepot of Trabzon, Trebizond in northern
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country located mainly on Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia an ...

Turkey
carried the disease to Western Europe; like many other outbreaks of plague, there is strong evidence that it originated in marmots in Central Asia and was carried westwards to the Black Sea by Silk Road traders.


Decline and disintegration (15th century)

The fragmentation of the Mongol Empire loosened the political, cultural, and economic unity of the Silk Road. Turkmeni marching lords seized land around the western part of the Silk Road from the decaying Byzantine Empire. After the fall of the Mongol Empire, the great political powers along the Silk Road became economically and culturally separated. Accompanying the crystallisation of regional states was the decline of nomad power, partly due to the devastation of the Black Death and partly due to the encroachment of sedentary civilisations equipped with
gunpowder Gunpowder, also commonly known as black powder to distinguish it from modern smokeless powder, is the earliest known chemical explosive. It consists of a mixture of sulfur, carbon (in the form of charcoal) and potassium nitrate (saltpeter). The ...
.


Partial revival in West Asia

Significant is Armenians role in making Europe Asia trade possible by being located in the crossing roads between these two. Armenia had a monopoly on almost all trade roads in this area and a colossal network. From 1700 to 1765, the total export of Persian silk was entirely conducted by Armenians. They were also exporting raisins, coffee beans, figs, Turkish yarn, camel hair, various precious stones, rice, etc., from Turkey and Iran.


Collapse (18th century)

The silk trade continued to flourish until it was disrupted by the collapse of the Safavid Empire in the 1720s.


New Silk Road (20th–21st centuries)

In the 20th century, the Silk Road through the Suez Canal and the overland connections were repeatedly blocked from the First World War on. This also applied to the massive trade barriers of the Cold War. It was not until the 1990s that the "old" trade routes began to reactivate again. In addition to the Chinese activities and the integration of Africa, this also applies to the increasing importance of the Mediterranean region and the connection to Central Europe such as the trade center of Trieste. Trade along the Silk Road could soon account for almost 40% of total world trade, with a large part taking place by sea. The land route of the Silk Road seems to remain a niche project in terms of transport volume in the future. As a result of the Chinese Silk Road Initiative and investments, trade seems to be intensifying on the relevant routes.Marcus Hernig: Die Renaissance der Seidenstraße (2018) pp 112.Bernhard Simon: Can The New Silk Road Compete With The Maritime Silk Road? in The Maritime Executive, 1 January 2020.Global shipping and logistic chain reshaped as China’s Belt and Road dreams take off in Hellenic Shipping News, 4. December 2018.


Maritime Silk Road

The maritime Silk Road follows the old trade route that was opened by the Chinese admiral Zheng He during the early Ming Dynasty. In particular, the establishment of the lockless Suez Canal then strongly promoted maritime trade between Asia and Europe in this area. While many trade flows were interrupted in the 20th century by the World Wars, the Suez Crisis and the Cold War, from the beginning of the 21st century many of the trading centers that had already existed in the 19th century were activated again. The Suez Canal was also continually expanded and its time-saving role in Asia-Europe trade was highlighted. At the beginning of the Maritime Silk Road are the major Chinese ports in Shanghai, Shenzhen and Port of Ningbo-Zhoushan, Ningbo-Zhoushan. The Chinese investments in Africa will connect large areas of Central Africa, Central and
East Africa East Africa, Eastern Africa, or East of Africa is the eastern sub-region A subregion is a part of a larger region or continent and is usually based on location. Cardinal directions, such as south or southern, are commonly used to define a subr ...
to the maritime Silk Road and thus to China and directly to southern Europe via the Suez Canal. The increasing importance of the Mediterranean as a trading center with its direct, fast connections to Central Europe, Central and Eastern Europe is evident from the international investments in port cities of Piraeus and Trieste. Trieste in particular plays a major role in the economic zone in Central Europe known as the Blue Banana. This includes a banana-shaped corridor from southern England via the Benelux region, western Germany and Switzerland to northern Italy. The transport via Trieste instead of northern ports such as Rotterdam and Hamburg shortens the delivery time from Shanghai by ten days and from Hong Kong by nine days. On the maritime Silk Road, on which more than half of all containers in the world are already on the move, deep-water ports are being expanded, logistics hubs are being built and new transport routes such as railways and roads in the hinterland are being created.Harry de Wilt: Is One Belt, One Road a China crisis for North Sea main ports? in World Cargo News, 17. December 2019. Today the maritime silk road runs with its connections from the Chinese coast to the south via Hanoi to Jakarta, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur through the Strait of Malacca via the Sri Lankan Colombo towards the southern tip of India via Malé, the capital of the Maldives, to the East African Mombasa, from there to Djibouti, then through the Red Sea via the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean, there via Haifa, Istanbul and Athens to the Upper Adriatic region to the northern Italian hub of Trieste with its international free port and its rail connections to Central Europe and the North Sea. As a result, Poland, the Baltic States, Northern Europe and Central Europe are also connected to the maritime silk road.


Railway (1990)

The Eurasian Land Bridge, a railway through China, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Russia, is sometimes referred to as the "New Silk Road". The last link in one of these two railway routes was completed in 1990, when the railway systems of China and Kazakhstan connected at Alashankou railway station, Alataw Pass (Alashan Kou). In 2008 the line was used to connect the cities of Ürümqi in China's Xinjiang Province to Almaty and Nur-Sultan in
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan ( kk, Қазақстан, Qazaqstan; russian: Казахстан, Kazakhstan), officially the Republic of Kazakhstan,; russian: Республика Казахстан, Respublika Kazakhstan, link=no) is a country located mainly in ...

Kazakhstan
. In October 2008 the first Trans-Eurasia Logistics train reached Hamburg from Xiangtan. Starting in July 2011 the line has been used by a freight service that connects Chongqing, China with Duisburg, Germany, cutting travel time for cargo from about 36 days by container ship to just 13 days by freight train. In 2013, Hewlett-Packard began moving large freight trains of laptop computers and monitors along this rail route. In January 2017, the service sent its first train to London. The network additionally connects to Madrid and Milan.


Revival of cities (1966)

After an earthquake that hit Tashkent in Central Asia in 1966, the city had to rebuild itself. Although it took a huge toll on their markets, this commenced a revival of modern silk road cities.


Belt and Road Initiative (2013)

During a September 2013 a visit to Kazakhstan, China's Chinese President Xi Jinping introduced a plan for a New Silk Road from China to Europe. The latest iterations of this plan, dubbed the "
Belt and Road Initiative The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI, or B&R), known in Chinese and formerly in English as One Belt One Road ( zh, link=no, 一带一路) or OBOR for short, is a global infrastructure development Development or developing may refer to: Art ...

Belt and Road Initiative
" (BRI), includes a land-based Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, with primary points in Ürümqi, Dostyk, Nur-Sultan, Gomel, the Belarussian city of Brest, Belarus, Brest, and the Polish cities of Małaszewicze and Łódź—which would be Spoke–hub distribution paradigm, hubs of logistics and transshipment to other countries of Europe. On 15 February 2016, with a change in routing, the first train dispatched under the scheme arrived from eastern Zhejiang Province to Tehran. Though this section does not complete the Silk Road–style overland connection between China and Europe, but new railway line connecting China to Europe via Istanbul's has now been established. The actual route went through Almaty, Bishkek, Samarkand, and Dushanbe.


Routes

The Silk Road consisted of several routes. As it extended westwards from the ancient commercial centres of China, the overland, intercontinental Silk Road divided into northern and Southern Silk Road: Through Khotan, southern routes bypassing the
Taklamakan Desert The Taklamakan Desert (; zh, s=塔克拉玛干沙漠, p=Tǎkèlāmǎgān Shāmò, Xiao'erjing Xiao'erjing or Xiao'erjin or Xiaor jin or in its shortened form, Xiaojing, literally meaning "children's script" or "minor script" (cf. "original ...

Taklamakan Desert
and Lop Nur. Merchants along these routes were involved in "relay trade" in which goods changed "hands many times before reaching their final destinations."


Northern route

The northern route started at Chang'an (now called Xi'an), an ancient capital of China that was moved further east during the Eastern Han dynasty, Later Han to Luoyang. The route was defined around the 1st century BCE when Han Wudi put an end to harassment by nomadic tribes. The northern route travelled northwest through the Chinese province of Gansu from
Shaanxi Shaanxi (; , ; Chinese postal romanization, alternately Shensi) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China. Officially part of Northwest China, it borders the province-level divisions of Shanxi (NE, ...

Shaanxi
Province and split into three further routes, two of them following the mountain ranges to the north and south of the
Taklamakan Desert The Taklamakan Desert (; zh, s=塔克拉玛干沙漠, p=Tǎkèlāmǎgān Shāmò, Xiao'erjing Xiao'erjing or Xiao'erjin or Xiaor jin or in its shortened form, Xiaojing, literally meaning "children's script" or "minor script" (cf. "original ...

Taklamakan Desert
to rejoin at
Kashgar Kashgar ( ug, قەشقەر – ''Qeshqer'') or Kashi ( zh, c=喀什) is an oasis In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, feat ...

Kashgar
, and the other going north of the Tian Shan mountains through Turpan, Talgar, and Almaty (in what is now southeast
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan ( kk, Қазақстан, Qazaqstan; russian: Казахстан, Kazakhstan), officially the Republic of Kazakhstan,; russian: Республика Казахстан, Respublika Kazakhstan, link=no) is a country located mainly in ...

Kazakhstan
). The routes split again west of Kashgar, with a southern branch heading down the Alai Valley towards Termez (in modern Uzbekistan) and Balkh (Afghanistan), while the other travelled through Kokand in the
Fergana Valley The Fergana Valley in Central Asia spreads across eastern Uzbekistan Uzbekistan (, ; uz, Ozbekiston, ), officially the Republic of Uzbekistan ( uz, Ozbekiston Respublikasi), is a landlocked country A country is a distinct territory, ter ...
(in present-day eastern Uzbekistan) and then west across the Karakum Desert. Both routes joined the main southern route before reaching ancient Merv, Turkmenistan. Another branch of the northern route turned northwest past the Aral Sea and north of the Caspian Sea, then and on to the Black Sea. A route for caravans, the northern Silk Road brought to China many goods such as "dates, saffron powder and pistachio nuts from Persia; frankincense, aloes and myrrh from Somalia; sandalwood from India; glass bottles from Egypt, and other expensive and desirable goods from other parts of the world." In exchange, the caravans sent back bolts of silk brocade, lacquer-ware, and porcelain.


Southern route

The southern route or Karakoram route was mainly a single route from China through the Karakoram, Karakoram mountains, where it persists in modern times as the Karakoram Highway, a paved road that connects Pakistan and China. It then set off westwards, but with southward spurs so travelers could complete the journey by sea from various points. Crossing the high mountains, it passed through northern Pakistan, over the Hindu Kush mountains, and into Afghanistan, rejoining the northern route near Merv, Turkmenistan. From Merv, it followed a nearly straight line west through mountainous northern Iran, Mesopotamia, and the northern tip of the Syrian Desert to the Levant, where Mediterranean Sea, Mediterranean trading ships plied regular routes to Italy, while land routes went either north through Anatolia or south to North Africa. Another branch road travelled from Herat through
Susa Susa (; Cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the ...

Susa
to Charax Spasinu at the head of the Persian Gulf and across to Petra and on to Alexandria and other eastern Mediterranean ports from where ships carried the cargoes to Rome.


Southwestern route

The southwestern route is believed to be the Ganges/Brahmaputra Delta, which has been the subject of international interest for over two millennia. Strabo, the 1st-century Roman writer, mentions the deltaic lands: "Regarding merchants who now sail from Egypt...as far as the Ganges, they are only private citizens..." His comments are interesting as Roman beads and other materials are being found at Wari-Bateshwar ruins, the ancient city with roots from much earlier, before the Bronze Age, presently being slowly excavated beside the Old Brahmaputra in Bangladesh. Ptolemy's map of the Ganges Delta, a remarkably accurate effort, showed that his informants knew all about the course of the Brahmaputra River, crossing through the Himalayas then bending westward to its source in Tibet. It is doubtless that this delta was a major international trading center, almost certainly from much earlier than the Common Era. Gemstones and other merchandise from Thailand and Java were traded in the delta and through it. Chinese archaeological writer Bin Yang and some earlier writers and archaeologists, such as Janice Stargardt, strongly suggest this route of international trade as Sichuan–Yunnan–Burma–Bangladesh route. According to Bin Yang, especially from the 12th century the route was used to ship bullion from Yunnan (gold and silver are among the minerals in which Yunnan is rich), through northern Burma, into modern Bangladesh, making use of the ancient route, known as the 'Ledo' route. The emerging evidence of the ancient cities of Bangladesh, in particular Wari-Bateshwar ruins, Mahasthangarh, Bhitagarh, Bikrampur, Egarasindhur, and Sonargaon, are believed to be the international trade centers in this route.


Maritime route

Maritime Silk Road or Maritime Silk Route refer to the wikt:maritime, maritime section of historic Silk Road that connects China to Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Indonesian archipelago, Indian subcontinent, Arabian peninsula, all the way to Egypt and finally Europe. The trade route encompassed numbers of bodies of waters; including South China Sea, Strait of Malacca, Indian Ocean, Gulf of Bengal, Arabian Sea, Persian Gulf, and the Red Sea. The maritime route overlaps with historic Southeast Asian maritime trade, Spice trade, Indian Ocean trade and after 8th century – the Arabian naval trade network. The network also extended eastward to East China Sea and Yellow Sea to connect China with Korean Peninsula and Japanese archipelago.


Expansion of religions

Richard Foltz, Xinru Liu, and others have described how trading activities along the Silk Road over many centuries facilitated the transmission not just of goods but also ideas and culture, notably in the area of religions. Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, Manichaeism, and Islam all spread across Eurasia through trade networks that were tied to specific religious communities and their institutions. Notably, established Buddhist monasteries along the Silk Road offered a haven, as well as a new religion for foreigners. The spread of religions and cultural traditions along the Silk Roads, according to Jerry H. Bentley, also led to syncretism. One example was the encounter with the Chinese and
Xiongnu The Xiongnu (, ) were a tribal confederation A confederation (also known as a confederacy or league) is a union of sovereign groups or states united for purposes of common action. Usually created by a treaty A treaty is a formal ...

Xiongnu
nomads. These unlikely events of cross-cultural contact allowed both cultures to adapt to each other as an alternative. The Xiongnu adopted Chinese agricultural techniques, dress style, and lifestyle, while the Chinese adopted Xiongnu military techniques, some dress style, music, and dance.Jerry H. Bentley, ''Old World Encounters: Cross-Cultural Contacts and Exchanges in Pre-Modern Times'' (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 38. Perhaps most surprising of the cultural exchanges between China and the Xiongnu, Chinese soldiers sometimes defected and converted to the Xiongnu way of life, and stayed in the steppes for fear of punishment. Nomadic mobility played a key role in facilitating inter-regional contacts and cultural exchanges along the ancient Silk Roads.


Transmission of Christianity

The transmission of Christianity was primarily known as Nestorianism on the Silk Road. In 781, an inscribed stele shows Nestorian Christian missionaries arriving on the Silk Road. Christianity had spread both east and west, simultaneously bringing Syriac language and evolving the forms of worship.


Transmission of Buddhism

The transmission of Buddhism to China via the Silk Road began in the 1st century CE, according to a semi-legendary account of an ambassador sent to the West by the Chinese Emperor Emperor Ming of Han, Ming (58–75). During this period Buddhism began to spread throughout Southeast, East, and Central Asia. Mahayana, Theravada, and Tibetan Buddhism are the three primary forms of Buddhism that spread across Asia via the Silk Road. The Buddhist movement was the first large-scale missionary movement in the history of world religions. Chinese missionaries were able to assimilate Buddhism, to an extent, to native Chinese Daoists, which brought the two beliefs together. Buddha's community of followers, the Sangha, consisted of male and female monks and laity. These people moved through India and beyond to spread the ideas of Buddha. As the number of members within the Sangha increased, it became costly so that only the larger cities were able to afford having the Buddha and his disciples visit. It is believed that under the control of the Kushans, Buddhism was spread to China and other parts of Asia from the middle of the first century to the middle of the third century. Extensive contacts started in the 2nd century, probably as a consequence of the expansion of the Kushan empire into the Chinese territory of the
Tarim Basin The Tarim Basin is an endorheic basin An endorheic basin (; also spelled endoreic basin or endorreic basin) is a drainage basin that normally retains water and allows no outflow to other external bodies of water, such as rivers or oceans ...
, due to the missionary efforts of a great number of Buddhist monks to Chinese lands. The first missionaries and translators of Buddhists scriptures into Chinese were either Parthian, Kushan, Sogdiana, Sogdian, or Kuchean. One result of the spread of Buddhism along the Silk Road was displacement and conflict. The Greek Seleucids were exiled to Iran and Central Asia because of a new Iranian dynasty called the Parthians at the beginning of the 2nd century BCE, and as a result, the Parthians became the new middlemen for trade in a period when the Romans were major customers for silk. Parthian scholars were involved in one of the first-ever Buddhist text translations into the Chinese language. Its main trade centre on the Silk Road, the city of Merv, in due course and with the coming of age of Buddhism in China, became a major Buddhist centre by the middle of the 2nd century. Knowledge among people on the silk roads also increased when Emperor Ashoka of the Maurya dynasty (268–239 BCE) converted to Buddhism and raised the religion to official status in his northern Indian empire. From the 4th century CE onward, Chinese pilgrims also started to travel on the Silk Road to India to get improved access to the original Buddhist scriptures, with Fa-hsien's pilgrimage to India (395–414), and later Xuanzang (629–644) and Hyecho, who traveled from Korea to India. The travels of the priest Xuanzang were fictionalized in the 16th century in a fantasy adventure novel called ''Journey to the West'', which told of trials with demons and the aid given by various disciples on the journey. There were many different schools of Buddhism travelling on the Silk Road. The Dharmaguptakas and the Sarvastivadins were two of the major Nikaya schools. These were both eventually displaced by the Mahayana, also known as "Great Vehicle". This movement of Buddhism first gained influence in the
Khotan Hotan (also known as Gosthana, Gaustana, Godana, Godaniya, Khotan, Hetian, Hotien) is a major town in southwestern , an in . The city proper of Hotan broke off from the larger to become an administrative area in its own right in August 1984 ...

Khotan
region. The Mahayana, which was more of a "pan-Buddhist movement" than a school of Buddhism, appears to have begun in northwestern India or Central Asia. It formed during the 1st century BCE and was small at first, and the origins of this "Greater Vehicle" are not fully clear. Some Mahayana scripts were found in northern Pakistan, but the main texts are still believed to have been composed in Central Asia along the Silk Road. These different schools and movements of Buddhism were a result of the diverse and complex influences and beliefs on the Silk Road. With the rise of Mahayana Buddhism, the initial direction of Buddhist development changed. This form of Buddhism highlighted, as stated by Xinru Liu, "the elusiveness of physical reality, including material wealth." It also stressed getting rid of material desire to a certain point; this was often difficult for followers to understand. During the 5th and 6th centuries CE, merchants played a large role in the spread of religion, in particular Buddhism. Merchants found the moral and ethical teachings of Buddhism an appealing alternative to previous religions. As a result, merchants supported Buddhist monasteries along the Silk Road, and in return, the Buddhists gave the merchants somewhere to stay as they traveled from city to city. As a result, merchants spread Buddhism to foreign encounters as they traveled. Merchants also helped to establish diaspora within the communities they encountered, and over time their cultures became based on Buddhism. As a result, these communities became centers of literacy and culture with well-organized marketplaces, lodging, and storage. The voluntary conversion of Chinese ruling elites helped the spread of Buddhism in East Asia and led Buddhism to become widespread in Chinese society. The Silk Road transmission of Buddhism essentially ended around the 7th century with the rise of Islam in Central Asia.


Judaism on the Silk Road

Adherents to the Jewish faith first began to travel eastward from Mesopotamia following the
Persia Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and Azerbaijan, to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Tu ...

Persia
n conquest of Babylon in 559 by the armies of Cyrus the Great. Judean slaves freed after the Persian conquest of Babylon dispersed throughout the Persian Empire. Some Judeans could have traveled as far east as
Bactria Bactria (BactrianBactrian may refer to *Bactria Bactria ( Bactrian: , ), or Bactriana, was an ancient region in Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the ...
and
Sogdia Sogdia () ( sog, soɣd) or Sogdiana was an ancient Iranian peoples, Iranian civilization between between the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya, and in present-day Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Sogdiana was also a province of the Ac ...
, though there is not clear evidence for this early settlement of Judeans. After settlement, it is likely that most Judeans took up trades in commerce. Trading along the silk trade networks by Judean merchants increased as the trade networks expanded. By the classical age, when trade goods traveled from as far east as China to as far west as Rome, Judean merchants in Central Asia would have been in an advantageous position to participate in trade along the Silk Road. A group of Judean merchants originating from Gaul known as the Radanites were one group of Judean merchants that had thriving trade networks from China to Rome. This trade was facilitated by a positive relationship the Radanites were able to foster with the Khazar Turkic people, Turks. The Khazar Turks served as a good spot in between China and Rome, and the Khazar Turks saw a relationship with the Radanites as a good commercial opportunity. According to Richard Foltz "there is more evidence for Iranian influence on the formation of Judaism, Jewish [religious] ideas than the reverse." Concepts of a paradise (heaven) for the good and a place of suffering (hell) for the wicked, and a form or world-ending apocalypse came from Iranian religious ideas, and this is supported by a lack of such ideas from pre-exile Judean sources. The origin of the devil is also said to come from the Iranian Angra Mainyu, an evil figure in Persian mythology.


Expansion of the arts

Many artistic influences were transmitted via the Silk Road, particularly through Central Asia, where Hellenistic, Persian art, Iranian, Indian art, Indian and Chinese art, Chinese influences could intermix. Greco-Buddhist art represents one of the most vivid examples of this interaction. Silk was also a representation of art, serving as a religious symbol. Most importantly, silk was used as currency for trade along the silk road. These artistic influences can be seen in the development of Buddhism where, for instance, Buddha was first depicted as human in the Kushan period. Many scholars have attributed this to Greek influence. The mixture of Greek and Indian elements can be found in later Buddhist art in China and throughout countries on the Silk Road. The production of art consisted of many different items that were traded along the Silk Roads from the East to the West. One common product, the
lapis lazuli Lapis lazuli (; ), or lapis for short, is a deep-blue metamorphic rock , a type of metamorphic rock Metamorphic rocks arise from the transformation of existing rock (geology), rock to new types of rock, in a process called metamorphism up ...

lapis lazuli
, was a blue stone with golden specks, which was used as paint after it was ground into powder.


Commemoration

On 22 June 2014, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) named the Silk Road a Silk Road UNESCO World Heritage Sites, World Heritage Site at the 2014 Conference on World Heritage. The United Nations World Tourism Organization has been working since 1993 to develop sustainable international tourism along the route with the stated goal of fostering peace and understanding. To commemorate the Silk Road becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the China National Silk Museum announced a "Silk Road Week" to take place 19–25 June 2020. Bishkek and Almaty each have a major east–west street named after the Silk Road ( ky, Жибек жолу, ''Jibek Jolu'' in Bishkek, and kk, Жібек жолы, ''Jibek Joly'' in Almaty). There is also a Silk Road in Macclesfield, UK.


Gallery

File:Caravanserai of Sa'd al-Saltaneh 1.jpg, Caravanserai of Sa'd al-Saltaneh File:Caravasar de Sultanhani. Han.jpg, Sultanhani caravanserai File:Caravanserai-Sheki.jpg, Shaki Caravanserai, Shaki, Azerbaijan, Shaki, Azerbaijan File:İkimərtəbəli karvansaray daxili həyət 2016.jpg, Two-Storeyed Caravanserai, Baku, Azerbaijan File:The remains of a bridge2.jpg, Bridge in Ani, capital of Bagratid Armenia, medieval Armenia File:Taldyk pass (3600 m).jpg, Taldyk pass File:Medieval fortress of Amul (Lebap, Turkmenistan).jpg, Medieval fortress of Amul, Turkmenabat, Turkmenistan File:Zeinodin Caravanserai.jpg, Zeinodin Caravanserai File:Westerner on a camel.jpg,
Sogdia Sogdia () ( sog, soɣd) or Sogdiana was an ancient Iranian peoples, Iranian civilization between between the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya, and in present-day Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Sogdiana was also a province of the Ac ...
n man on a Bactrian camel, ''sancai'' ceramic glaze, Chinese Tang dynasty (618–907) File:Summer Vacation 2007, 263, Watchtower In The Morning Light, Dunhuang, Gansu Province.jpg, The ruins of a Han dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE) Chinese watchtower made of rammed earth at Dunhuang, Gansu province File:WhiteHanBronzeMirror.JPG, A late Zhou dynasty, Zhou or early Han Chinese TLV mirror, bronze mirror inlaid with glass, perhaps incorporated Greco-Roman artistic patterns File:Xihan rhino, gold & silver inlays.JPG, A Chinese Western Han dynasty (202 BCE – 9 CE) bronze rhinoceros with gold and silver inlay File:Han Dynasty Granary west of Dunhuang.jpg,
Han dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

Han dynasty
Granary west of Dunhuang on the Silk Road. File:Green glass Roman cup unearthed at Eastern Han tomb, Guixian, China.jpg, Green Roman glass cup unearthed from an Eastern Han dynasty (25–220 CE) tomb, Guangxi, southern China


See also

* Bronze Age * Dvārakā–Kamboja route * Dzungarian Gate * Global silver trade from the 16th to 19th centuries * Godavaya * Hippie trail * History of silk * Incense Route * Iron Age * List of ports and harbours of the Indian Ocean * Maritime Silk Road * Mount Imeon * One Belt One Road Initiative * Serica * Silk Road Economic Belt * Silk Road Fund * Silk Road Numismatics * Spice trade * International Association for the Study of Silk Road Textiles (IASSRT), Silk Road Textiles * Steppe Route * Suez Canal * Tea Horse Road * ''The Silk Roads'' * Three hares


References


Citations


Sources

* Baines, John and Málek, Jaromir (1984). ''Atlas of Ancient Egypt''. Oxford, Time Life Books. * Boulnois, Luce (2004). ''Silk Road: Monks, Warriors & Merchants on the Silk Road''. Translated by Helen Loveday with additional material by Bradley Mayhew and Angela Sheng. Airphoto International. hardback, softback. * Ebrey, Patricia Buckley. (1999). ''The Cambridge Illustrated History of China''. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. . * Richard Foltz, Foltz, Richard, ''Religions of the Silk Road'', Palgrave Macmillan, 2nd edition, 2010, * János Harmatta, Harmatta, János, ed., 1994. ''History of civilizations of Central Asia, Volume II. The development of sedentary and nomadic civilizations: 700 BC to 250''. Paris, UNESCO Publishing. *
Herodotus Herodotus ( ; grc, Ἡρόδοτος, Hēródotos, ; BC) was an Classical Greece, ancient Greek writer, geographer, and historian born in the Greek city of Halicarnassus, part of the Achaemenid Empire, Persian Empire (now Bodrum, Turkey). He ...
(5th century BCE): ''Histories''. Translated with notes by George Rawlinson. 1996 edition. Ware, Hertfordshire, Wordsworth Editions Limited. * Hopkirk, Peter: ''Foreign Devils on the Silk Road: The Search for the Lost Cities and Treasures of Chinese Central Asia''. The University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, 1980, 1984. * Hill, John E. (2009) ''Through the Jade Gate to Rome: A Study of the Silk Routes during the Later Han Dynasty, 1st to 2nd centuries CE''. BookSurge, Charleston, South Carolina. . * Hulsewé, A.F.P. and Loewe, M.A.N. (1979). ''China in Central Asia: The Early Stage 125 BC – 23: an annotated translation of chapters 61 and 96 of the History of the Former Han Dynasty''. E.J. Brill, Leiden. * Huyghe, Edith and Huyghe, François-Bernard: "La route de la soie ou les empires du mirage", Petite bibliothèque Payot, 2006, * Juliano, Annette, L. and Lerner, Judith A., et al. 2002. ''Monks and Merchants: Silk Road Treasures from Northwest China: Gansu and Ningxia, 4th–7th Century''. Harry N. Abrams Inc., with The Asia Society. . * Klimkeit, Hans-Joachim (1988). ''Die Seidenstrasse: Handelsweg and Kulturbruecke zwischen Morgen- and Abendland.'' Koeln: DuMont Buchverlag. * Klimkeit, Hans-Joachim (1993). ''Gnosis on the Silk Road: Gnostic Texts from Central Asia''. Trans. & presented by Hans-Joachim Klimkeit. HarperSanFrancisco. . * Knight, E.F. (1893). ''Where Three Empires Meet: A Narrative of Recent Travel in: Kashmir, Western Tibet, Gilgit, and the adjoining countries''. Longmans, Green, and Co., London. Reprint: Ch'eng Wen Publishing Company, Taipei. 1971. * Li, Rongxi (translator). 1995. ''A Biography of the Tripiṭaka Master of the Great Ci'en Monastery of the Great Tang Dynasty''. Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research. Berkeley, California. * Li, Rongxi (translator). 1995. ''The Great Tang Dynasty Record of the Western Regions''. Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research. Berkeley, California. * Boris Anatol'evich Litvinsky, Litvinsky, B.A., ed. (1996). ''History of civilizations of Central Asia, Volume III. The crossroads of civilizations: 250 to 750''. Paris, UNESCO Publishing. * Xinru Liu, Liu, Xinru (2001). "Migration and Settlement of the Yuezhi-Kushan: Interaction and Interdependence of Nomadic and Sedentary Societies." ''Journal of World History'', Volume 12, No. 2, Fall 2001. University of Hawaii Press, pp. 261–92

* Liu, Li, 2004, ''The Chinese Neolithic, Trajectories to Early States'', Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. * Xinru Liu, Liu, Xinru (2010). ''The Silk Road in World History''. Oxford University Press. . * McDonald, Angus (1995). ''The Five Foot Road: In Search of a Vanished China''., San Francisco: HarperCollins * Malkov, Artemy (2007). The Silk Road: A mathematical model. ''History & Mathematics'', ed. by Peter Turchin et al. Moscow: KomKniga. * Mallory, J.P. and Mair, Victor H. (2000). ''The Tarim Mummies: Ancient China and the Mystery of the Earliest Peoples from the West''. Thames & Hudson, London. * Ming Pao. "Hong Kong proposes Silk Road on the Sea as World Heritage", 7 August 2005, p. A2. * Osborne, Milton, 1975. ''River Road to China: The Mekong River Expedition'', 1866–73. George Allen & Unwin Lt. * Puri, B.N, 1987 ''Buddhism in Central Asia'', Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited, Delhi. (2000 reprint). * Ray, Himanshu Prabha, 2003. ''The Archaeology of Seafaring in Ancient South Asia''. Cambridge University Press. . * Viktor Sarianidi, Sarianidi, Viktor, 1985. ''The Golden Hoard of Bactria: From the Tillya-tepe Excavations in Northern Afghanistan''. Harry N. Abrams, New York. * Schafer, Edward H. 1963. ''The Golden Peaches of Samarkand: A study of T'ang Exotics''. University of California Press. Berkeley and Los Angeles. 1st paperback edition: 1985. . * Marc Aurel Stein, Stein, Aurel M. 1907. ''Ancient Khotan: Detailed report of archaeological explorations in Chinese Turkestan'', 2 vols. Clarendon Press. Oxfor

* Stein, Aurel M., 1912. ''Ruins of Desert Cathay: Personal narrative of explorations in Central Asia and westernmost China'', 2 vols. Reprint: Delhi. Low Price Publications. 1990. * Stein, Aurel M., 1921. ''Serindia: Detailed report of explorations in Central Asia and westernmost China'', 5 vols. London & Oxford. Clarendon Press. Reprint: Delhi. Motilal Banarsidass. 198

* Stein Aurel M., 1928. ''Innermost Asia: Detailed report of explorations in Central Asia, Kan-su and Eastern Iran'', 5 vols. Clarendon Press. Reprint: New Delhi. Cosmo Publications. 1981. * Stein Aurel M., 1932 ''On Ancient Central Asian Tracks: Brief Narrative of Three Expeditions in Innermost Asia and Northwestern China''. Reprinted with Introduction by Jeannette Mirsky. Book Faith India, Delhi. 1999. * Thorsten, Marie. 2006 "Silk Road Nostalgia and Imagined Global Community". Comparative American Studies 3, no. 3: 343–59. * Waugh, Daniel. (2007). "Richthofen "Silk Roads": Toward the Archeology of a Concept." ''The Silk Road''. Volume 5, Number 1, Summer 2007, pp. 1–10

* von Le Coq, Albert, 1928. Buried Treasures of Turkestan. Reprint with Introduction by Peter Hopkirk, Oxford University Press. 1985. * Whitfield, Susan, 1999. ''Life Along the Silk Road.'' London: John Murray. * Wimmel, Kenneth, 1996. ''The Alluring Target: In Search of the Secrets of Central Asia''. Trackless Sands Press, Palo Alto, CA. * Yan, Chen, 1986. "Earliest Silk Route: The Southwest Route." Chen Yan. ''China Reconstructs'', Vol. XXXV, No. 10. October 1986, pp. 59–62. *


Further reading

* Boulnois, Luce
Silk Road: Monks, Warriors and Merchants on the Silk Road
Odyssey Publications, 2005. * Bulliet, Richard W. 1975. ''The Camel and the Wheel''. Harvard University Press. . * * de la Vaissière, E., Sogdian Traders. A History, Leiden, Brill, 2005, Hardback Brill Publishers, French version o

* Elisseeff, Vadime. Editor. 1998. ''The Silk Roads: Highways of Culture and Commerce''. UNESCO Publishing. Paris. Reprint: 2000. softback; . * Forbes, Andrew ; Henley, David (2011). ''China's Ancient Tea Horse Road''. Chiang Mai: Cognoscenti Books. * Frankopan, Peter. ''The Silk Roads: A New History of the World'' (2016), Very wide-ranging scholarly survey, albeit without any maps. * Hansen, Valerie. ''The Silk Road: A New History'' (Oxford University Press; 2012) 304 pages; Combines archaeology and history in a study of seven oases * Hallikainen, Saana: ''Connections from Europe to Asia and how the trading was affected by the cultural exchange'' (2002) * Hill, John E. (2004). ''The Peoples of the West from the Weilüe'' 魏略 ''by Yu Huan'' 魚豢'': A Third Century Chinese Account Composed between 239 and 265.'' Draft annotated English translation

* Peter Hopkirk, Hopkirk, Peter: ''The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia''; Kodansha International, New York, 1990, 1992. * Kuzmina, E.E. ''The Prehistory of the Silk Road''. (2008) Edited by Victor H. Mair. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia. * Larsen, Jeanne. ''Silk Road: A Novel of Eighth-Century China''. (1989; reprinted 2009) * * Li et al
"Evidence that a West-East admixed population lived in the Tarim Basin as early as the early Bronze Age"
''BMC Biology'' 2010, 8:15. * Xinru Liu, Liu, Xinru, and Shaffer, Lynda Norene. 2007. ''Connections Across Eurasia: Transportation, Communication, and Cultural Exchange on the Silk Roads''. McGraw Hill, New York. . * Miller, Roy Andrew (1959): ''Accounts of Western Nations in the History of the Northern Chou Dynasty''. University of California Press. * * Polo, Marco, ''Il Milione''. * Thubron, C., ''The Silk Road to China'' (Hamlyn, 1989) * Tuladhar, Kamal Ratna (2011). ''Caravan to Lhasa: A Merchant of Kathmandu in Traditional Tibet.'' Kathmandu: Lijala & Tisa. * * Olivier Weber, Weber, Olivier, Eternal Afghanistan (photographs of Reza), (Unesco-Le Chêne, 2002) * Yap, Joseph P. ''Wars With the Xiongnu – A Translation From Zizhi Tongjian''. AuthorHouse (2009)
National Institute of Informatics – Digital Silk Road Project Digital Archive of Toyo Bunko Rare Books



External links





a historical overview by Oliver Wild

a freely available scholarly journal run by Daniel Waugh (historian), Daniel Waugh
''The New Silk Road''
– a lecture by Paul Lacourbe at TEDxDanubia 2013 * Pepe Escobar, Escobar, Pepe (February 2015).
Year of the Sheep, Century of the Dragon? New Silk Roads and the Chinese Vision of a Brave New (Trade) World
'' an essay at Tom Engelhardt, Tom Dispatch {{Authority control Silk Road, Ancient roads and tracks Roads in Asia Medieval Asia Silk Trade routes Eurasian history History of Imperial China History of foreign trade in China History of international relations Ancient international relations International road networks Ancient history of Afghanistan Ancient history of Iraq Ancient history of Pakistan Han dynasty Economic history of Iran Foreign trade of Pakistan Foreign relations of ancient Rome History of Khorasan World Heritage Sites in China World Heritage Sites in Kazakhstan World Heritage Sites in Tajikistan