Description of Silk Roads
Silk roads refer to the economic and cultural routes of the 20th century that existed between China and the Mediterranean. These routes linked the West and the East. They brought people from varying cultures together. Goods that were common on these roads were silk material rolls, raw silk bundles, silk garments and carpets. These routes were used by a German geographer and explorer, Baron Ferdinand von Richthofen on his way to China. He also wrote about the movements on these regions (Elisseeef 1). This explorer is among the people who came up with the name Silk Roads specifically for east-west roads. These roads are popular for interactions, movements and resettlement that occurred within short distances. The routes had a significant contribution in terms of spreading cultures and religions as well as the movement of the people from China to the west (Waugh 9).
Despite not being real roads, these routes were very crucial. People greatly appreciated the ecological complexity of these roads. They linked regions by meandering along different places. China was at that time a great agricultural country. A lot of its produce was sold to the Mediterranean world and Asia. In turn, the Chinese received horses and camels from these countries. The many roles that were played by these routes are highly appreciated. This indicates the need for studying and understanding them. The unity of the Afro Eurasia has been preserved due to these roads. This unity can be seen in common lifestyles, culture, religion and technologies (Christian 1-26).
Organization/Development of Silk Roads
Silk Road was opened up by Shang Qian during the time of Han Dynasty. This road served up to the time of the collapse of Yan Dynasty about 1600 years later. Silk Road meandered from Xian through Lanzhou to the Great wall’s spur on the western side. Around Dunhuang, this road formed two paths. Both the northern and southern routes went through Taklimakan desert (Wood 11). Silk roads emerged after the start of the trading system in China and central Asia. Going on a trip of 6,000 kilometers consumed a lot of time for the caravans. The trip could be made by few individuals but they would not accept. They sold most goods through intermediaries and these would rarely travel from their regions. On seeing the benefits that this trade had, Han Dynasty tried to build a Great Wall that had two gates marking the North and South via the desert. After opening the route, trade grew and china continued to flourish. Towns emerged to connect canals before ways were created for different caravans. This caused political heat among the neighbors of China.
Trade Route Problems
The rulers of Han dynasty had tribulations due to trade routes’ improvement. Precious goods were attacked on these routes by bandits. This forced traders to send caravans alongside protection forces. Most merchants combined their camels and caravans so that they could go with armed escorts to ensure goods’ protection. This increased the transportation cost of goods for the merchants.
Traders walked long distances since camel was the only transport means used at that time. They had to endure high temperature, sometimes sickness and sandstorms while traveling. It was difficult to police the route. A Great Wall was established to make the trade secure. Consequently, traders had shorter distances to travel and they absorbed local cultures. Huang pulled resources from different states and used them in building the infrastructure of the road. Gates were used to mark the routes which provided good trade. China benefited from this trade and this made the neighboring states to complain and this promoted politics. Several towns emerged and they grew rapidly with the arrival of more caravans (Wild, 1992).
Silk Road’s trade thrived regardless of the risks associated with it. Silk cargoes, paper and ceramics were moved to Asia from Xian while cotton, wine, spices and grapes came to Xian from the western countries. To thank God after surviving the journey and selling goods, merchants paid for the establishment of the cave shrines on these routes.
Silk Road played a vital role in political and business dealings across Asia. It was an important part of the establishment and provision of support for the Afro-Asian history. Nevertheless, this road is not used today after the advancement of trade and technology. During that time, it was the most ideal method and it had a significant contribution to the lives of the people in these regions.
Christian, David. “Silk roads or steppe roads? The silk roads in world history.” Journal of world history 11.1 (2000): 1-26.
Eliseeff, Vadime, ed. “The” Silk Roads: Highways of Culture and Commerce. Berghahn Books, 1998.
Norman,Ross . Gold:The Silk Road Redux (2013)Web. http://www.sharpspixley.com/uploads/COMMNOWARTICLESEPLBMA_2013.pdf
Waugh, C. Daniel. The Silk Roads in History (n.d) Web. http://penn.museum/documents/publications/expedition/PDFs/52-3/waugh.pdf
Wild, Oliver. “The Silk Road.” WWW document, http://www. ess. uci. edu/~ oliver/silk. html (1992).
Wood, Frances. The Silk Road: Two Thousand Years in the Heart of Asia. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002. Print.