Continuities and Change over Time in the Silk Road
The Silk Route is a convenient name for the Trans Asia trade routes. At one point it was viewed as a road along which silk from China was brought to Turkey and sold to Europeans. That is an overly simplistic and not terribly realistic view. It was not a single road but a number of interconnecting Caravan Routes over which trade was conducted. The Silk route dates back at least 5500 years where as silk only dates back about three thousand years. The early trade on the route was for rock salt. Salt isn’t necessary for life and has a number of uses. Salt can help preserve meat and shepherds would salt their herds (no. of animals feeding or travelling together) to get them to take on water so that they might survive mountain forage or desert crossings without water for longer than they could otherwise. The Silk Routes (collectively known as the 'Silk Road') were important paths for cultural commercial and technological exchange between traders, merchants, pilgrims, missionaries, soldiers, nomads and urban dwellers from Ancient China, Ancient India, Ancient Tibet, Persia and Mediterranean countries for almost 3,000 years. It gets its name from the lucrative Chinese silk trade, which began during the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 BC). Extending 4,000miles, the routes enabled people to transport goods, especially luxuries such as slaves, silk, satin, and other fine fabrics, musk, other perfumes, spices, medicines, jewels, glassware and even rhubarb (plant of which the fleshy stalks are cooked and used as fruit), as well as serving as a conduit (channel) for the spread knowledge, ideas, cultures and diseases between different parts of the world( Ancient China, Ancient India [Indus valley, now Pakistan], Asia Minor, and the Mediterranean). Although the term the Silk Road implies a continuous journey, very few who traveled the route traversed it from end to end. For the most part, goods were transported by a series of agents...
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