In 300 CE the trade routes of Africa and Eurasia were increasing in complexity, as they became major arteries for the exchange of goods and ideas over long distances. The trade networks of these regions consistently enabled the spread of religious ideas far beyond their original homelands. Networks like the Trans-Saharan, Indian Ocean, and Silk Road systems always brought wealth to foreign products that enabled local producers to specialize in items best suited to their regions. Yet, the risk of long distance trade decreased over this period as societies expanded and technology increased. Furthermore, the amount of trade done on these networks was inconsistent between 300 CE and 1450 CE.
Throughout this extensive time period, the trade networks of Africa and Eurasia retained some very important qualities. One of these qualities was that the trade networks of these regions served as conduits for religion. The spread of religious ideas has always been important along trade routes especially because of the use that common religion had for merchants. An example of this constant spread of religion over trade networks can be found on the Eurasian Silk Road. Buddhism was the prominent faith of Silk Road merchants until 700 CE, and managed to spread to Indian merchants in Ceylon, Bactria, Iran, and China. Indian merchants utilizing the sea-lanes of the Indian Ocean also spread Hinduism throughout Southeast Asia in this entire time frame. Christian missionaries capitalized on the ease of travel and communication in the Mediterranean trade routes for the entirety of the Roman Empire. These missionaries spread Christianity to Anatolia, Syria, Egypt, and North Africa for a huge amount of time via the trade routes available to them in Europe. These efforts even penetrated into lower African regions via the trans-Saharan trade route and converted societies like Ethiopia. Wherever there was a significant trade network during this time period, religion was sure to be...
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