Sunday, 19 October 2014

The Historic Silk Route

The SIlk Route
Wikimedia Commons by 
It is the ancient network of interlinking trade routes leading to China. The name silk route or silk road has been derived from the lucrative silk trade to China. Along this route of about 6,437 Km, the silk was the major trading commodity. 

This route passed across the extensive transcontinental network or the Afro-Eurasian landmass and connected the East, South and west Asia, with Europe, North-East Africa and the Mediterranean world through land and water. It passed from Europe, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, and India the up to China.

The silk trade on this route, began during the reign of Han Dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD) in China. The part of route in central Asia was developed around 114 BC, due to the efforts of Zhang Qian of the aforesaid dynasty, who sent several expeditions on this route. From 114 BC, up to the time of collapse of the Yuan Dynasty, this world-famous route remained important for 1,600 years.

It is worth mentioning that before the discovery of silk route, other trade routes across the continents also existed at that time.The trade along this route helped in the development of the civilizations. The prominent among them are those of China, India,Persia, Europe, Arabia, Africa etc. 

Besides silk from China, many other goods were also traded, and various technologies, religions and philosophies hybridized with each other. Moreover the plague and other diseases also traveled along this route. The Indians,Arabs, Persians,Sogdians, Bactrians etc., were the main traders on this route.

The products of China like iron ware, gold and platinum items, bronze mirror, lacquer ware, bamboo works, medicines, farming and metallurgy techniques were introduced in India and Europe through this route.On the other hand the alfalfa, grapes, flax, pomegranates, walnuts, cucumbers, lion, peacock, elephant, camel and domestic animals along with some other plants and animals were taken back to central China.