The Silk Road and the Indian Ocean trade routes were trading systems essential to exchange from the coast of China all the way throughout the Mediterranean. The Indian Ocean trade routes used sailing vessels that often carried colonists from Indonesia to Madagascar. While both routes were important, the Silk Road was used more frequently than the former. The Silk Road was about 4,00 miles long and stretched from Iran to China. It passed through mountain ranges of the Himalayas and countries like Mesopotamia and Central Asia. Not only was the Silk Road a shorter route of trade, it was also cheaper because pack animals were far cheaper than sailing vessels.
The Silk Route was the base of cultural exchange between the regions. Culture was often intermixed along the Silk Road. An artifact discovered in a northern Chinese tomb of the Tang ear depicted Iranian musicians riding upon the back of a camel. The art was glazed in only three colors, which had been typical of Chinese art in the time period. This piece of art confirmed that culture migrated and intermixed throughout the areas. At the same time, Chinese style plates had been circulating in the Iranian areas.
Culture was not the only thing that was traded along the Silk Road. There had also been articles of silk, animals, plants, and even people. Silk from China had been traded for western products, such as horses. Plants had been spread, and imported to regions where they could not be grown. Evidence of people integrating into new societies was in a work of Chinese poet Po Zhuyi. The poem spoke of a girl from Iran who traveled all the way to China to be a dancer, but upon arriving she had been told that she was too late and that she would never compare to the dancers that were already there. While people tried to expand, they weren’t always accepted for who they strived to be.