Posted by Travel Inspirations | Posted on 23-12-2011 | comments: 0| Posted in
The Silk Road, so named by a 19th century German scholar, Baron Ferdinand von Richthofen, was probably the greatest ever East-West trade route. Today the modern technologies are the equivalent of the ancient trade route bringing information, connecting people and sharing ideas. Only the difference is that nowadays months and years of travelling can be reduced to seconds of dialling.
The Silk Road originated in the policy of the country that we call China today. The ancient Middle Kingdom and the ruling Han dynasty established this route for military and political purposes rather than trade. Zhang Qian, a court official, was sent westwards to form an alliance with the Yuezhi tribe against the Xiongnu’s constant invasions. Most of the time, 30% of trade was silk; other items going west from China were porcelain/ceramics, furs, jade, bronzeware & weapons, lacquer, bamboo wares, iron, medicinal herbs and drugs and spices plus inventions and technology such as gunpowder, paper making, farming, printing & smelting. In reverse, the Chinese imported cosmetics, gold and other precious metals, textiles, amber, ivory, carpets, perfume and glass. New foodstuffs arrived such as grapes, sesame, pomegranates, walnuts, cucumbers, carrots and wines. Strange and unknown animals came too such as peacocks, parrots, falcons, hunting dogs, gazelles, elephants, camels, lions, leopards and ostriches. Now as then, the idea to call China the most valuable trading partner was an universal truth.
It wasn’t just goods that moved along the Silk Road. It became an information highway. Religions were spread more easily with missionaries using the road. Buddhism, Islam and Christianity came in while Confucianism went out. The general exchange of ideas increased too, especially culture, art and philosophies.
Now many of the bustling wealthy cities that lined the Silk Road are submerged under the desert but the original route is still there with paved roads and railways connecting east and west along the old routes.
The modern technologies like cheap international calls serve as a modern Silk Road, connecting relatives, serving businesses and establishing friendships.