The term “Silk road” is not something strange to many of us in this day and us, especially the history enthusiasts. Generally, the silk road was the ancient network that connected and maintained the trade between the East and the West. The road went as the borders of China, India, and ended its route somewhere in the Mediterranean Sea. The list of Seven World Wonders include the name of Silk Road as well.
Why the Silk Road was so important in the ancient time?
To easily get the answer, one should imagine the Silk Road as the spine. The spine of the human body connects the head and the body so that we can function easily. It is the central supporting structure of our body. And so is the Silk Road to the nations that lived along its routes. It gradually became the spine of the Empires from China to Greeks, Romans, and Mongolian and Russians. From the Silk Road, the benefits could move from nations to nations, from regions to regions. People could transfer not only the goods and products through this route but also the knowledge, traditions, languages, and even spies as well.
That is to say, China was not the only one that enjoyed the fruit from the Road. Many empires that lived along the route experienced the benefits from it. Genghis Khan the Great Founder of Mongol Empire once desired to conquer the whole Silk Road. This emperor of vision had seen the affluence his people would cherish when they owned the Silk Road. But this ambition of Genghis Khan was never to be fulfilled.
Why people called it the Silk Road?
The name “Silk road” was quite an interesting name. From the beginning, the majority of goods that the Chinese transferred to other regions was silk. During that time, people from many corners of the world favored Chinese silk for its endurance, softness, and luxury. The Chinese was so famous for their high quality silk. They sold their silk for thousands of years and even the Romans called China the land of silk.
The first time that this term appeared was in 1877. The German scientist Ferdinand von Richthofen used this term in his work about China.
What types of goods did the Chinese sell through the Silk Road?
Apart from silk from China, there were many kinds of goods that the traders sold on their way through the Silk Road.
The goods from the East to the West included:
- Precious Stones and metal
- Plates, bowls, cups, vases
- Spices (such as cinnamon and ginger)
- Bronze and gold artifacts
The goods from the West to the East included:
- Horses, camels, and some other animals like gods both domestic and wild
- The grapevine and grapes
- Animal furs and skins
- Woolen blankets, rugs, carpets
- Gold, silver, and other precious metal
- Weapons and armor
How did the traders travel through the long journey?
To make it through the journey of thousand miles, the traders couldn’t go on their own. Usually, they would travel in a large group which we can call the caravan. For the security of their goods and their own lives, they would hire many guards to go with them along the way to defend against any force. The most common animals that they rode were the camels. Because most of the Silk Road was the harsh desert. Horse would fall before they reached the destination unless they provided enough food and water along the way. But there was a limitation for the water supply in the desert so the choice of camels was obvious.
One can never run the business without taking risk. What the people from the ancient time did along the silk road proved this right. They must encounter many dangers and threats before they earned themselves a fortune. It was a difficult decision to trade through the Silk Road. Because they might reap a fortune through it or they might even lose their life for the risks they took.
Why the Road came to an end?
The Han Dynasty was credited for opening the Silk Route which made a significant change to both the Eastern and Western economy. Around the middle of 1450s, the Ottoman Empire decided to boycott Chinese goods and services. The fastest and most effective way to do so was to shut down the Silk Road which connected the East, especially China, and the West. By this time, the Europeans had got used to the goods from the East. So after the shutdown of the Silk Route, the merchants had to find another way for the goods to meet the demands. Even the silk road had no economic values like its glory, the Road provides a great fountain of knowledge and historic treasures in this day and age.