Silk Road

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Silk Road
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{{short description|Trade routes through Asia connecting China to the Mediterranean Sea}}{{About|the series of trade routes|other uses|Silk Road (disambiguation)}}{{pp-semi-indef|small=yes}}

}}The Silk Road was a network of trade routes which connected the East and West, and was central to the economic, cultural, political, and religious interactions between these regions from the 2nd century BCE to the 18th century.WEB,weblink Eurasian winds toward Silla, Miho Museum News (Shiga, Japan) Volume 23, March 2009, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 2016-04-09, BOOK,weblink Ancient Glass Research Along the Silk Road, Gan, Fuxi, 2009, 41, Shanghai Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 978-981-283-356-3, Ancient Glass Research along the Silk Road, World Scientific, live,weblink 2018-02-27, BOOK, Elisseeff, Vadime, The Silk Roads: Highways of Culture and Commerce, UNESCO Publishing / Berghahn Books, 2001, 978-92-3-103652-1, The Silk Road primarily refers to the land routes connecting East Asia and Southeast Asia with South Asia, Persia, the Arabian Peninsula, East Africa and Southern Europe.The Silk Road derives its name from the lucrative trade in silk carried out along its length, beginning in the Han dynasty in China (207 BCE–220 CE). The Han dynasty expanded the Central Asian section of the trade routes around 114 BCE through the missions and explorations of the Chinese imperial envoy Zhang Qian, as well as several military conquests.BOOK, Luce, Boulnois, Luce Boulnois, 2005, Silk Road: Monks, Warriors & Merchants, Odyssey Books, Hong Kong, 66, 978-962-217-721-5,weblink The Chinese took great interest in the security of their trade products, and extended the Great Wall of China to ensure the protection of the trade route.Xinru, Liu (2010). The Silk Road in World History New York: Oxford University Press, p. 11.The Silk Road trade played a significant role in the development of the civilizations of China, Korea,WEB,weblink Republic of Korea {{!, Silk Road||language=en|access-date=2017-02-23|url-status=live|archiveurl=|archivedate=2017-02-23|df=}} Japan, the Indian subcontinent, Iran, Europe, the Horn of Africa and Arabia, opening long-distance political and economic relations between the civilizations.Jerry Bentley, Old World Encounters: Cross-Cultural Contacts and Exchanges in Pre-Modern Times (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 32. Though silk was the major trade item exported from China, many other goods and ideas were exchanged, including religions (especially Buddhism), syncretic philosophies, sciences, and technologies like paper and gunpowder. So in addition to economic trade, the Silk Road was a route for cultural trade among the civilizations along its network.Jerry Bentley, Old World Encounters: Cross-Cultural Contacts and Exchanges in Pre-Modern Times (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 33. Diseases, most notably plague, also spread along the Silk Road.NEWS, Ancient bottom wipers yield evidence of diseases carried along the Silk Road,weblink The Guardian, 22 July 2016, 2018-05-18, live, In June 2014, UNESCO designated the Chang'an-Tianshan corridor of the Silk Road as a World Heritage Site. The Indian portion is on the tentative site list.


File:Woven silk, Western Han Dynasty.jpg|thumb|Woven silk textile from Tomb No. 1 at Mawangdui, Changsha, Hunan province, China, dated to the Western Han Era, 2nd century BCE]]The Silk Road derives its name from the lucrative silk, first developed in ChinaWEB,weblink Eurasian winds toward Silla, Miha Museum (Shiga, Japan), Sping Special Exhibition, 14 March 2009, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 9 April 2016, WEB,weblink The Horses of the Steppe: The Mongolian Horse and the Blood-Sweating Stallions {{!, Silk Road in Rare Books||access-date=2017-02-23|url-status=live|archiveurl=|archivedate=2017-02-02|df=}} and a major reason for the connection of trade routes into an extensive transcontinental network.Waugh (2007), p. 4."Approaches Old and New to the Silk Roads" Eliseeff in: The Silk Roads: Highways of Culture and Commerce. Paris (1998) UNESCO, Reprint: Berghahn Books (2009), pp. 1–2. {{ISBN|92-3-103652-1|1-57181-221-0|1-57181-222-9}} The German term ("the Silk Road") was coined in 1877 by Ferdinand von Richthofen, who made seven expeditions to China from 1868 to 1872.See:
  • JOURNAL, Richthofen, Ferdinand von, Ãœber die zentralasiatischen Seidenstrassen bis zum 2. Jh. n. Chr., Verhandlungen der Gesellschaft für Erdkunde zu Berlin, 1877, 4, 96–122,weblink On the Central Asian Silk Roads until the 2nd century A.D., German,
  • BOOK, Richthofen, Ferdinand von, China. Ergebnisse eigener Reisen und darauf gegründeter Studien, China. Findings of My Own Travels and Studies Based Thereon, 1877, Dietrich Reimer, Berlin, Germany, vol. 1, 496–507,weblink German, From p. 496: "Ergänzende Nachrichten über den westlichen Theil einer der früheren Seidenstrassen erhalten wir wiederum durch MARINUS, der hier ganz seinem Berichterstatter, dem Agenten des Macedoniers MAËS (s. oben S. 478), folgt." (On the other hand, we obtain additional information about the western part of one of the earlier Silk Roads via Marinus, who here closely follows his correspondent, the agent of the Macedonian Maës (see p. 478 above).)"Approaches Old and New to the Silk Roads" Vadime Eliseeff in: The Silk Roads: Highways of Culture and Commerce. Paris (1998) UNESCO, Reprint: Berghahn Books (2000), pp. 1–2. {{ISBN|92-3-103652-1|1-57181-221-0|1-57181-222-9}}Waugh, Daniel. (2007). "Richthofen's "Silk Roads": Toward the Archaeology of a Concept." The Silk Road. Volume 5, Number 1, Summer 2007, p. 4.Warwick Ball (2016), Rome in the East: Transformation of an Empire, 2nd edition, London & New York: Routledge, {{ISBN|978-0-415-72078-6}}, p. 156 The term "Silk Route" is also used.Warwick Ball (2016), Rome in the East: Transformation of an Empire, 2nd edition, London & New York: Routledge, {{ISBN|978-0-415-72078-6}}, p. 155. Although the term was coined in the 19th century, it did not gain widespread acceptance in academia or popularity among the public until the 20th century. The first book entitled The Silk Road was by Swedish geographer Sven Hedin in 1938.
Use of the term 'Silk Road' is not without its detractors. For instance, Warwick Ball contends that the maritime spice trade with India and Arabia was far more consequential for the economy of the Roman Empire than the silk trade with China, which at sea was conducted mostly through India and on land was handled by numerous intermediaries such as the Sogdians.Warwick Ball (2016), Rome in the East: Transformation of an Empire, 2nd edition, London & New York: Routledge, {{ISBN|978-0-415-72078-6}}, pp. 154–56. Going as far as to call the whole thing a "myth" of modern academia, Ball argues that there was no coherent overland trade system and no free movement of goods from East Asia to the West until the period of the Mongol Empire.Warwick Ball (2016), Rome in the East: Transformation of an Empire, 2nd edition, London & New York: Routledge, {{ISBN|978-0-415-72078-6}}, pp. 155–56. He notes that traditional authors discussing East-West trade such as Marco Polo and Edward Gibbon never labelled any route a "silk" one in particular.The southern stretches of the Silk Road, from Khotan (Xinjiang) to Eastern China, were first used for jade and not silk, as long as 5000 BCE, and is still in use for this purpose. The term "Jade Road" would have been more appropriate than "Silk Road" had it not been for the far larger and geographically wider nature of the silk trade; the term is in current use in China.BOOK, Wood, Frances, The Silk Road: Two Thousand Years in the Heart of Asia,weblink 7 March 2019, September 2004, University of California Press, 978-0-520-24340-8, 26,


Chinese and Central Asian contacts (2nd millennium BCE)

File:ChineseJadePlaques.JPG|thumb|right|Chinese jade and steatite plaques, in the Scythian-style animal art of the steppes. 4th–3rd century BCE. British MuseumBritish MuseumCentral Eurasia has been known from ancient times for its horse riding and horse breeding communities, and the overland Steppe Route across the northern steppes of Central Eurasia was in use long before that of the Silk Road. Archeological sites such as the Berel burial ground in Kazakhstan, confirmed that the nomadic Arimaspians were not only breeding horses for trade but also great craftsmen able to propagate exquisite art pieces along the Silk Road.NEWS,weblink Treasures of Ancient Altai Nomads Revealed, 2012-12-10, The Astana Times, 2017-02-23, en-US, live,weblink" title="">weblink 2017-02-23, NEWS,weblink Additional Berel Burial Sites Excavated, 2013-08-21, The Astana Times, 2017-02-23, en-US, live,weblink" title="">weblink 2017-02-23, From the 2nd millennium BCE, nephrite jade was being traded from mines in the region of Yarkand and Khotan to China. Significantly, these mines were not very far from the lapis lazuli and spinel ("Balas Ruby") mines in Badakhshan, and, although separated by the formidable Pamir Mountains, routes across them were apparently in use from very early times.{{citation needed|date=October 2014}}Some remnants of what was probably Chinese silk dating from 1070 BCE have been found in Ancient Egypt. The Great Oasis cities of Central Asia played a crucial role in the effective functioning of the Silk Road trade.BOOK, Worlds Together Worlds Apart, Pollard, Elizabeth, Rosenberg, Clifford, Tignor, Robert, Norton, 2011, 978-0-393-91847-2, New York, 278, The originating source seems sufficiently reliable, but silk degrades very rapidly, so it cannot be verified whether it was cultivated silk (which almost certainly came from China) or a type of wild silk, which might have come from the Mediterranean or Middle East.JOURNAL, 10.1038/362025b0, 362, 6415, 25, Lubec, G., J. Holauerghsrthbek, C. Feldl, B. Lubec, E. Strouhal, Use of silk in ancient Egypt, Nature, 4 March 1993, 1993Natur.362...25L, (also available here WEB,weblink Archived copy, 2007-05-03, live,weblink" title="">weblink 2007-09-20, )Following contacts between Metropolitan China and nomadic western border territories in the 8th century BCE, gold was introduced from Central Asia, and Chinese jade carvers began to make imitation designs of the steppes, adopting the Scythian-style animal art of the steppes (depictions of animals locked in combat). This style is particularly reflected in the rectangular belt plaques made of gold and bronze, with other versions in jade and steatite.{{citation needed|date=October 2014}} An elite burial near Stuttgart, Germany, dated to the 6th century BCE, was excavated and found to have not only Greek bronzes but also Chinese silks.Christopoulos, Lucas (August 2012), "Hellenes and Romans in Ancient China (240 BC – 1398 AD)," in Victor H. Mair (ed), Sino-Platonic Papers, No. 230, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, University of Pennsylvania Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, p. 31 footnote #56, {{ISSN|2157-9687}}. Similar animal-shaped pieces of art and wrestler motifs on belts have been found in Scythian grave sites stretching from the Black Sea region all the way to Warring States era archaeological sites in Inner Mongolia (at Aluchaideng) and Shaanxi (at (:de:Keshengzhuang|Keshengzhuang)) in China.The expansion of Scythian cultures, stretching from the Hungarian plain and the Carpathian Mountains to the Chinese Kansu Corridor, and linking the Middle East with Northern India and the Punjab, undoubtedly played an important role in the development of the Silk Road. Scythians accompanied the Assyrian Esarhaddon on his invasion of Egypt, and their distinctive triangular arrowheads have been found as far south as Aswan. These nomadic peoples were dependent upon neighbouring settled populations for a number of important technologies, and in addition to raiding vulnerable settlements for these commodities, they also encouraged long-distance merchants as a source of income through the enforced payment of tariffs. Sogdians played a major role in facilitating trade between China and Central Asia along the Silk Roads as late as the 10th century, their language serving as a lingua franca for Asian trade as far back as the 4th century.Hanks, Reuel R. (2010). Global Security Watch: Central Asia, Santa Barbara, Denver, Oxford: Praeger, p. 3.Mark J. Dresden (2003). "Sogdian Language and Literature", in Ehsan Yarshater, The Cambridge History of Iran, Vol III: The Seleucid, Parthian, and Sasanian Periods, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 1219, {{ISBN|0-521-24699-7}}.

Persian Royal Road (500–330 BCE)

File:Map achaemenid empire en.png|thumb|upright=1.15|Achaemenid Persian Empire at its greatest extent, showing the Royal RoadRoyal RoadBy the time of Herodotus (c. 475 BCE), the Royal Road of the Persian Empire ran some {{convert|2857|km|0|abbr=on}} from the city of Susa on the Karun ({{convert|250|km|0|abbr=on}} east of the Tigris) to the port of Smyrna (modern İzmir in Turkey) on the Aegean Sea.Please refer to Royal Road. It was maintained and protected by the Achaemenid Empire (c. 500–330 BCE) and had postal stations and relays at regular intervals. By having fresh horses and riders ready at each relay, royal couriers could carry messages and traverse the length of the road in nine days, while normal travelers took about three months.{{citation needed|date=October 2014}}

Expansion of the Greek Empire (329 BCE–10 CE)

File:UrumqiWarrior.jpg|thumb|upright|Soldier with a centaur in the Sampul tapestry,Christopoulos, Lucas (August 2012), "Hellenes and Romans in Ancient China (240 BC – 1398 AD)," in Victor H. Mair (ed), Sino-Platonic Papers, No. 230, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, University of Pennsylvania Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, pp. 15–16, {{ISSN|2157-9687}}. wool wall hanging, 3rd–2nd century BCE, Sampul, Urumqi XinjiangXinjiangThe next major step toward the development of the Silk Road was the expansion of the Greek empire of Alexander the Great into Central Asia. In August 329 BCE, at the mouth of the Fergana Valley in Tajikistan, he founded the city of Alexandria Eschate or "Alexandria The Furthest".Prevas, John. (2004). Envy of the Gods: Alexander the Great's Ill-Fated Journey across Asia, p. 121. Cambridge, MA: De Capo Press. {{ISBN|0-306-81268-1}}.The Greeks remained in Central Asia for the next three centuries, first through the administration of the Seleucid Empire, and then with the establishment of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom (250–125 BCE) in Bactria (modern Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Pakistan) and the later Indo-Greek Kingdom (180 BCE – 10 CE) in modern Northern Pakistan and Afghanistan. They continued to expand eastward, especially during the reign of Euthydemus (230–200 BCE), who extended his control beyond Alexandria Eschate to Sogdiana. There are indications that he may have led expeditions as far as Kashgar in Chinese Turkestan, leading to the first known contacts between China and the West around 200 BCE. The Greek historian Strabo writes, "they extended their empire even as far as the Seres (China) and the Phryni."WEB,weblink Strabo XI.XI.I,, 2011-07-13, Classical Greek philosophy syncretised with Indian philosophy.Jerry H. Bentley, Old World Encounters: Cross-Cultural Contacts and Exchanges in Pre-Modern Times (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 54.

Initiation in China (130 BCE)

{{See also|Sino-Roman relations|China–India relations|Zhang Qian}}The Silk Road was initiated and globalized by Chinese exploration and conquests in Central Asia.With the Mediterranean linked to the Fergana Valley, the next step was to open a route across the Tarim Basin and the Hexi Corridor to China Proper. This extension came around 130 BCE, with the embassies of the Han dynasty to Central Asia following the reports of the ambassador Zhang QianWEB, The Megalithic Portal, Megalith Map, yes,weblink Silk Road, North China, C.M. Hogan, the Megalithic Portal, ed. A. Burnham,, 2011-07-13, live,weblink" title="">weblink 2013-10-02, (who was originally sent to obtain an alliance with the Yuezhi against the Xiongnu). Zhang Qian visited directly the kingdom of Dayuan in Ferghana, the territories of the Yuezhi in Transoxiana, the Bactrian country of Daxia with its remnants of Greco-Bactrian rule, and Kangju. He also made reports on neighbouring countries that he did not visit, such as Anxi (Parthia), Tiaozhi (Mesopotamia), Shendu (Indian subcontinent) and the Wusun.BOOK,weblink Story of the Silk Road, Yiping Zhang, 2005, 五洲传播出版社, 22, 978-7-5085-0832-0, 2011-04-17, live,weblink 2018-02-27, Zhang Qian's report suggested the economic reason for Chinese expansion and wall-building westward, and trail-blazed the Silk road, making it one of the most famous trade routes in history and in the world.BOOK,weblink The Great Wall: China Against the World, 1000 BC – AD 2000, Julia Lovell, 2007, Grove Press, 978-0-8021-4297-9, 73, 2011-04-17, live,weblink 2018-02-27, After winning the War of the Heavenly Horses and the Han–Xiongnu War, Chinese armies established themselves in Central Asia, initiating the Silk Route as a major avenue of international trade.{{harvnb|Li|Zheng|2001|p=254}} Some say that the Chinese Emperor Wu became interested in developing commercial relationships with the sophisticated urban civilizations of Ferghana, Bactria, and the Parthian Empire: "The Son of Heaven on hearing all this reasoned thus: Ferghana (Dayuan "Great Ionians") and the possessions of Bactria (Ta-Hsia) and Parthian Empire (Anxi) are large countries, full of rare things, with a population living in fixed abodes and given to occupations somewhat identical with those of the Chinese people, but with weak armies, and placing great value on the rich produce of China" (Hou Hanshu, Later Han History). OthersDi Cosmo,'Ancient China and its Enemies', 2002 say that Emperor Wu was mainly interested in fighting the Xiongnu and that major trade began only after the Chinese pacified the Hexi Corridor.(File:BiggestHanMap.png|thumb|Extent of Han dynasty into Central Asia, opening the Silk Road for the first time.)The Silk Roads' origin lay in the hands of the Chinese. The soil in China lacked Selenium, a deficiency which contributed to muscular weakness and reduced growth in horses.BOOK, Selenium in the Environment, CRC Press, 1994, Frankenberger, W.T., 30, Consequently, horses in China were too frail to support the weight of a Chinese soldier.BOOK, City of Heavenly Tranquility: Beijing in the History of China, Becker, Jasper, Oxford University Press, 2008, Oxford, 18, The Chinese needed the superior horses that nomads bred on the Eurasian steppes, and nomads wanted things only agricultural societies produced, such as grain and silk. Even after the construction of the Great Wall, nomads gathered at the gates of the wall to exchange. Soldiers sent to guard the wall were often paid in silk which they traded with the nomads.BOOK, The Silk Roads: A Brief History with Documents, Liu, Xinru, Bedford/St. Martin's, 2012, New York, 6, Past its inception, the Chinese continued to dominate the Silk Roads, a process which was accelerated when "China snatched control of the Silk Road from the Hsiung-nu" and the Chinese general Cheng Ki "installed himself as protector of the Tarim at Wu-lei, situated between Kara Shahr and Kucha." "China's control of the Silk Road at the time of the later Han, by ensuring the freedom of transcontinental trade along the double chain of oases north and south of the Tarim, favoured the dissemination of Buddhism in the river basin, and with it Indian literature and Hellenistic art."BOOK, Grousset, Rene, The Empire of the Steppes, Rutgers University Press, 1970, 978-0-8135-1304-1, 36–37, 48, File:HanHorse.jpg|thumb|A ceramic horse head and neck (broken from the body), from the Chinese Eastern Han dynastyEastern Han dynastyFile:Bronze coin of Contantius II 337 361 found in Karghalik.jpg|thumb|Bronze coin of Constantius II (337–361), found in Karghalik, Xinjiang, ChinaChinaThe Chinese were also strongly attracted by the tall and powerful horses (named "Heavenly horses") in the possession of the Dayuan (literally the "Great Ionians", the Greek kingdoms of Central Asia), which were of capital importance in fighting the nomadic Xiongnu. They defeated the Dayuan in the Han-Dayuan war. The Chinese subsequently sent numerous embassies, around ten every year, to these countries and as far as Seleucid Syria. "Thus more embassies were dispatched to Anxi [Parthia], Yancai [who later joined the Alans ], Lijian [Syria under the Greek Seleucids], Tiaozhi (Mesopotamia), and Tianzhu [northwestern India]... As a rule, rather more than ten such missions went forward in the course of a year, and at the least five or six." (Hou Hanshu, Later Han History). These connections marked the beginning of the Silk Road trade network that extended to the Roman Empire.Ebrey (1999), 70.The Chinese campaigned in Central Asia on several occasions, and direct encounters between Han troops and Roman legionaries (probably captured or recruited as mercenaries by the Xiong Nu) are recorded, particularly in the 36 BCE battle of Sogdiana (Joseph Needham, Sidney Shapiro). It has been suggested that the Chinese crossbow was transmitted to the Roman world on such occasions, although the Greek gastraphetes provides an alternative origin. R. Ernest Dupuy and Trevor N. Dupuy suggest that in 36 BCE,"[a] Han expedition into Central Asia, west of Jaxartes River, apparently encountered and defeated a contingent of Roman legionaries. The Romans may have been part of Antony's army invading Parthia. Sogdiana (modern Bukhara), east of the Oxus River, on the Polytimetus River, was apparently the most easterly penetration ever made by Roman forces in Asia. The margin of Chinese victory appears to have been their crossbows, whose bolts and darts seem easily to have penetrated Roman shields and armour."R. Ernest Dupuy and Trevor N. Dupuy, The Harper Encyclopedia of Military History from 3500 B.C. to the Present, Fourth Edition (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1993), 133, apparently relying on Homer H. Dubs, "A Roman City in Ancient China", in Greece and Rome, Second Series, Vol. 4, No. 2 (Oct., 1957), pp. 139–48 The Roman historian Florus also describes the visit of numerous envoys, which included Seres(China), to the first Roman Emperor Augustus, who reigned between 27 BCE and 14 CE:{{Quotation|Even the rest of the nations of the world which were not subject to the imperial sway were sensible of its grandeur, and looked with reverence to the Roman people, the great conqueror of nations. Thus even Scythians and Sarmatians sent envoys to seek the friendship of Rome. Nay, the Seres came likewise, and the Indians who dwelt beneath the vertical sun, bringing presents of precious stones and pearls and elephants, but thinking all of less moment than the vastness of the journey which they had undertaken, and which they said had occupied four years. In truth it needed but to look at their complexion to see that they were people of another world than ours.|Henry Yule|Cathay and the Way Thither (1866)|}}The Han army regularly policed the trade route against nomadic bandit forces generally identified as Xiongnu. Han general Ban Chao led an army of 70,000 mounted infantry and light cavalry troops in the 1st century CE to secure the trade routes, reaching far west to the Tarim basin. Ban Chao expanded his conquests across the Pamirs to the shores of the Caspian Sea and the borders of Parthia.Ban Chao {{webarchive|url= |date=2009-06-16 }}, Britannica Online Encyclopedia It was from here that the Han general dispatched envoy Gan Ying to Daqin (Rome).Frances Wood, The Silk Road: Two Thousand Years in the Heart of Asia, University of California Press, 2004, {{ISBN|0-520-24340-4}}, p. 46 The Silk Road essentially came into being from the 1st century BCE, following these efforts by China to consolidate a road to the Western world and India, both through direct settlements in the area of the Tarim Basin and diplomatic relations with the countries of the Dayuan, Parthians and Bactrians further west. The Silk Roads were a "complex network of trade routes" that gave people the chance to exchange goods and culture.Jerry H. Bentley, Old World Encounters: Cross-Cultural Contacts and Exchanges in Pre-Modern Times (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 32.A maritime Silk Route opened up between Chinese-controlled Giao Chỉ (centred in modern Vietnam, near Hanoi), probably by the 1st century. It extended, via ports on the coasts of India and Sri Lanka, all the way to Roman-controlled ports in Roman Egypt and the Nabataean territories on the northeastern coast of the Red Sea. The earliest Roman glassware bowl found in China was unearthed from a Western Han tomb in Guangzhou, dated to the early 1st century BCE, indicating that Roman commercial items were being imported through the South China Sea.An, Jiayao. (2002), "When Glass Was Treasured in China," in Annette L. Juliano and Judith A. Lerner (eds), Silk Road Studies VII: Nomads, Traders, and Holy Men Along China's Silk Road, 79–94, Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, {{ISBN|2-503-52178-9}}, p. 83. According to Chinese dynastic histories, it is from this region that the Roman embassies arrived in China, beginning in 166 CE during the reigns of Marcus Aurelius and Emperor Huan of Han.WEB, 1998, 2000, Paul Halsall, Jerome S. Arkenberg,weblink East Asian History Sourcebook: Chinese Accounts of Rome, Byzantium and the Middle East, c. 91 B.C.E. – 1643 C.E., Fordham University,, 2016-09-16, live,weblink" title="">weblink 2014-09-10, de Crespigny, Rafe. (2007). A Biographical Dictionary of Later Han to the Three Kingdoms (23–220 AD). Leiden: Koninklijke Brill, p. 600, {{ISBN|978-90-04-15605-0}}.Yü, Ying-shih. (1986). "Han Foreign Relations," in Denis Twitchett and Michael Loewe (eds), The Cambridge History of China: Volume I: the Ch'in and Han Empires, 221 B.C. – A.D. 220, 377–462, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 460–61, {{ISBN|978-0-521-24327-8}}. Other Roman glasswares have been found in Eastern-Han-era tombs (25–220 CE) more further inland in Nanjing and Luoyang.An, Jiayao. (2002), "When Glass Was Treasured in China," in Annette L. Juliano and Judith A. Lerner (eds), Silk Road Studies VII: Nomads, Traders, and Holy Men Along China's Silk Road, 79–94, Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, {{ISBN|2-503-52178-9}}, pp. 83–84.P.O. Harper asserts that a 2nd or 3rd-century Roman gilt silver plate found in Jingyuan, Gansu, China with a central image of the Greco-Roman god Dionysus resting on a feline creature, most likely came via Greater Iran (i.e. Sogdiana).Harper, P.O. (2002), "Iranian Luxury Vessels in China From the Late First Millennium B.C.E. to the Second Half of the First Millennium C.E.," in Annette L. Juliano and Judith A. Lerner (eds), Silk Road Studies VII: Nomads, Traders, and Holy Men Along China's Silk Road, 95–113, Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, {{ISBN|2-503-52178-9}}, pp. 106–07. Valerie Hansen (2012) believed that earliest Roman coins found in China date to the 4th century, during Late Antiquity and the Dominate period, and come from the Byzantine Empire.Hansen, Valerie (2012), The Silk Road: A New History, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 97–98, {{ISBN|978-0-19-993921-3}}. However, Warwick Ball (2016) highlights the recent discovery of sixteen Principate-era Roman coins found in Xi'an (formerly Chang'an, one of the two Han capitals) that were minted during the reigns of Roman emperors spanning from Tiberius to Aurelian (i.e. 1st to 3rd centuries CE).Warwick Ball (2016), Rome in the East: Transformation of an Empire, 2nd edition, London & New York: Routledge, {{ISBN|978-0-415-72078-6}}, p. 154.It is true that these coins were found in China, but they were deposited there in the twentieth century, not in ancient times, and therefore they do not shed light on historic contacts between China and Rome.Helen Wang (2004) "Money on the Silk Road: The evidence from Eastern Central Asia to. c. AD 800," London: The British Museum Press, {{ISBN|0-7141-1806-0}}, p. 34. Roman golden medallions made during the reign of Antoninus Pius and quite possibly his successor Marcus Aurelius have been found at Óc Eo in southern Vietnam, which was then part of the Kingdom of Funan bordering the Chinese province of Jiaozhi in northern Vietnam.Gary K. Young (2001), Rome's Eastern Trade: International Commerce and Imperial Policy, 31 BC – AD 305, London & New York: Routledge, {{ISBN|0-415-24219-3}}, p. 29.For further information on Oc Eo, see Milton Osborne (2006), The Mekong: Turbulent Past, Uncertain Future, Crows Nest: Allen & Unwin, revised edition, first published in 2000, {{ISBN|1-74114-893-6}}, pp. 24–25. Given the archaeological finds of Mediterranean artefacts made by Louis Malleret in the 1940s, Óc Eo may have been the same site as the port city of Kattigara described by Ptolemy in his Geography (c. 150 CE), although Ferdinand von Richthofen had previously believed it was closer to Hanoi.Ferdinand von Richthofen, China, Berlin, 1877, Vol.I, pp. 504–10; cited in Richard Hennig, Terrae incognitae : eine Zusammenstellung und kritische Bewertung der wichtigsten vorcolumbischen Entdeckungsreisen an Hand der daruber vorliegenden Originalberichte, Band I, Altertum bis Ptolemäus, Leiden, Brill, 1944, pp. 387, 410–11; cited in Zürcher (2002), pp. 30–31.


Roman Empire (30 BCE–3rd century CE)

(File:Seidenstrasse GMT Ausschnitt Zentralasien.jpg|thumb|upright=1.35|Central Asia during Roman times, with the first Silk Road)Soon after the Roman conquest of Egypt in 30 BCE, regular communications and trade between China, Southeast Asia, India, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe blossomed on an unprecedented scale. The Roman Empire inherited eastern trade routes that were part of the Silk Road from the earlier Hellenistic powers and the Arabs. With control of these trade routes, citizens of the Roman Empire received new luxuries and greater prosperity for the Empire as a whole.Xinru Liu, The Silk Road in World History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 21. The Roman-style glassware discovered in the archeological sites of Gyeongju, capital of the Silla kingdom (Korea) showed that Roman artifacts were traded as far as the Korean peninsula. The Greco-Roman trade with India started by Eudoxus of Cyzicus in 130 BCE continued to increase, and according to Strabo (II.5.12), by the time of Augustus, up to 120 ships were setting sail every year from Myos Hormos in Roman Egypt to India."Strabo's Geography Book II Chapter 5 " The Roman Empire connected with the Central Asian Silk Road through their ports in Barygaza (known today as Bharuch Bharuch, Bharuch website, retrieved on 19 November 2013) and Barbaricum (known today as the city of Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan Barbarikon Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan website, retrieved on 19 November 2013.) and continued along the western coast of India.Xinru Liu, The Silk Road in World History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 40. An ancient "travel guide" to this Indian Ocean trade route was the Greek Periplus of the Erythraean Sea written in 60 CE.The travelling party of Maës Titianus penetrated farthest east along the Silk Road from the Mediterranean world, probably with the aim of regularising contacts and reducing the role of middlemen, during one of the lulls in Rome's intermittent wars with Parthia, which repeatedly obstructed movement along the Silk Road. Intercontinental trade and communication became regular, organised, and protected by the "Great Powers". Intense trade with the Roman Empire soon followed, confirmed by the Roman craze for Chinese silk (supplied through the Parthians), even though the Romans thought silk was obtained from trees. This belief was affirmed by Seneca the Younger in his Phaedra and by Virgil in his Georgics. Notably, Pliny the Elder knew better. Speaking of the bombyx or silk moth, he wrote in his Natural Histories "They weave webs, like spiders, that become a luxurious clothing material for women, called silk."Pliny the Elder, Natural Histories 11.xxvi.76 The Romans traded spices, glassware, perfumes, and silk.Xinru, Liu, The Silk Road in World History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 21.File:Cernuschi Museum 20060812 150.jpg|thumb|A Westerner on a camel, Northern Wei dynastyNorthern Wei dynastyRoman artisans began to replace yarn with valuable plain silk cloths from China and the Silla Kingdom in Gyeongju, Korea.Xinru Liu, The Silk Road in World History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 75. Chinese wealth grew as they delivered silk and other luxury goods to the Roman Empire, whose wealthy women admired their beauty.Xinru, Liu, The Silk Road in World History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), p. 20 The Roman Senate issued, in vain, several edicts to prohibit the wearing of silk, on economic and moral grounds: the import of Chinese silk caused a huge outflow of gold, and silk clothes were considered decadent and immoral.The West Roman Empire, and its demand for sophisticated Asian products, crumbled in the West around the 5th century.The unification of Central Asia and Northern India within the Kushan Empire in the 1st to 3rd centuries reinforced the role of the powerful merchants from Bactria and Taxila.Sogdian Trade, Encyclopedia Iranica, (retrieved 15 June 2007) They fostered multi-cultural interaction as indicated by their 2nd century treasure hoards filled with products from the Greco-Roman world, China, and India, such as in the archeological site of Begram.

Byzantine Empire (6th–14th centuries)

{{further|Byzantine-Mongol alliance}}File:Major powers.png|right|thumb|288x288px|Map showing Byzantium along with the other major silk road powers during China's Southern dynasties period of fragmentation.]]Byzantine Greek historian Procopius stated that two Nestorian Christian monks eventually uncovered the way silk was made. From this revelation, monks were sent by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian (ruled 527–565) as spies on the Silk Road from Constantinople to China and back to steal the silkworm eggs, resulting in silk production in the Mediterranean, particularly in Thrace in northern Greece,"Silk Road" {{webarchive|url= |date=2013-09-06 }}, LIVIUS Articles of Ancient History. 28 October 2010. Retrieved on 14 November 2010. and giving the Byzantine Empire a monopoly on silk production in medieval Europe. In 568 the Byzantine ruler Justin II was greeted by a Sogdian embassy representing Istämi, ruler of the Turkic Khaganate, who formed an alliance with the Byzantines against Khosrow I of the Sasanian Empire that allowed the Byzantines to bypass the Sasanian merchants and trade directly with the Sogdians for purchasing Chinese silk.Howard, Michael C. (2012), Transnationalism in Ancient and Medieval Societies, the Role of Cross Border Trade and Travel, McFarland & Company, p. 133.Mark J. Dresden (1981), "Introductory Note," in Guitty Azarpay, Sogdian Painting: the Pictorial Epic in Oriental Art, Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, p. 9, {{ISBN|0-520-03765-0}}.Liu, Xinru, "The Silk Road: Overland Trade and Cultural Interactions in Eurasia", in Michael Adas (ed), Agricultural and Pastoral Societies in Ancient and Classical History, American Historical Association, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2001, p. 168. Although the Byzantines had already procured silkworm eggs from China by this point, the quality of Chinese silk was still far greater than anything produced in the West, a fact that is perhaps emphasized by the discovery of coins minted by Justin II found in a Chinese tomb of Shanxi province dated to the Sui dynasty (581–618).Luttwak, Edward N. (2009). The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire. Cambridge and London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. {{ISBN|978-0-674-03519-5}}, pp. 168–69.File:Solidus Constans II (obverse).jpg|thumb|Coin of Constans II (r. 641–648), who is named in Chinese sources as the first of several Byzantine emperors to send embassies to the Chinese Tang dynastyTang dynastyBoth the Old Book of Tang and New Book of Tang, covering the history of the Chinese Tang dynasty (618–907), record that a new state called Fu-lin (拂菻; i.e. Byzantine Empire) was virtually identical to the previous Daqin (大秦; i.e. Roman Empire). Several Fu-lin embassies were recorded for the Tang period, starting in 643 with an alleged embassy by Constans II (transliterated as Bo duo li, 波多力, from his nickname "Kōnstantinos Pogonatos") to the court of Emperor Taizong of Tang. The History of Song describes the final embassy and its arrival in 1081, apparently sent by Michael VII Doukas (transliterated as Mie li sha ling kai sa, 滅力沙靈改撒, from his name and title Michael VII Parapinakēs Caesar) to the court of Emperor Shenzong of the Song dynasty (960–1279). However, the History of Yuan claims that a Byzantine man became a leading astronomer and physician in Khanbaliq, at the court of Kublai Khan, Mongol founder of the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368) and was even granted the noble title 'Prince of Fu lin' (Chinese: 拂菻王; Fú lǐn wáng).Bretschneider, Emil (1888), Medieval Researches from Eastern Asiatic Sources: Fragments Towards the Knowledge of the Geography and History of Central and Western Asia from the 13th to the 17th Century, Vol. 1, Abingdon: Routledge, reprinted 2000, p. 144. The Uyghur Nestorian Christian diplomat Rabban Bar Sauma, who set out from his Chinese home in Khanbaliq (Beijing) and acted as a representative for Arghun (a grandnephew of Kublai Khan),Moule, A.C., Christians in China before 1500, 94 & 103; also Pelliot, Paul in T'oung-pao 15(1914), pp. 630–36.Peter Jackson (2005), The Mongols and the West, 1221–1410, Pearson Education, p. 169, {{ISBN|0-582-36896-0}}.Kathleen Kuiper & editors of Encyclopædia Britannica (31 August 2006). "Rabban bar Sauma: Mongol Envoy {{webarchive|url= |date=2016-10-11 }}." Encyclopædia Britannica (online source). Accessed 16 September 2016.Morris Rossabi (2014). From Yuan to Modern China and Mongolia: The Writings of Morris Rossabi. Leiden & Boston: Brill, pp. 385–86, {{ISBN|978-90-04-28529-3}}. traveled throughout Europe and attempted to secure military alliances with Edward I of England, Philip IV of France, Pope Nicholas IV, as well as the Byzantine ruler Andronikos II Palaiologos.Morris Rossabi (2014). From Yuan to Modern China and Mongolia: The Writings of Morris Rossabi. Leiden & Boston: Brill, pp. 386–421, {{ISBN|978-90-04-28529-3}}. Andronikos II had two half-sisters who were married to great-grandsons of Genghis Khan, which made him an in-law with the Yuan-dynasty Mongol ruler in Beijing, Kublai Khan.Luttwak, Edward N. (2009). The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire. Cambridge and London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. {{ISBN|978-0-674-03519-5}}, p. 169. The History of Ming preserves an account where the Hongwu Emperor, after founding the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), had a supposed Byzantine merchant named Nieh-ku-lun (捏古倫) deliver his proclamation about the establishment of a new dynasty to the Byzantine court of John V Palaiologos in September 1371.Luttwak, Edward N. (2009). The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire. Cambridge and London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. {{ISBN|978-0-674-03519-5}}, pp. 169–70. Friedrich Hirth (1885), Emil Bretschneider (1888), and more recently Edward Luttwak (2009) presumed that this was none other than Nicolaus de Bentra, a Roman Catholic bishop of Khanbilaq chosen by Pope John XXII to replace the previous archbishop John of Montecorvino.BOOK, E. Bretschneider, On the Knowledge Possessed by the Ancient Chinese of the Arabs and Arabian Colonies: And Other Western Countries, Mentioned in Chinese Books,weblink 1871, Trübner & Company, 25–, live,weblink 2018-02-27, Luttwak, Edward N. (2009). The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire. Cambridge and London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. {{ISBN|978-0-674-03519-5}}, p. 170.

Tang dynasty (7th century)

{{Further|Tang campaigns against the Western Turks|Conquest of the Western Turks|Tang campaign against the Eastern Turks|Tang dynasty#Trade and spread of culture}}File:ForeignerWithWineskin-Earthenware-TangDynasty-ROM-May8-08.png|thumb|upright|A Chinese sancai statue of a Sogdian man with a wineskin, Tang dynastyTang dynasty(File:Tang China 669AD.jpg|thumb|After the Tang defeated the Gokturks, they reopened the Silk Road to the west.)Although the Silk Road was initially formulated during the reign of Emperor Wu of Han (141–87 BCE), it was reopened by the Tang Empire in 639 when Hou Junji conquered the Western Regions, and remained open for almost four decades. It was closed after the Tibetans captured it in 678, but in 699, during Empress Wu's period, the Silk Road reopened when the Tang reconquered the Four Garrisons of Anxi originally installed in 640,{{citation|last=Nishijima|first=Sadao|editor1-last=Twitchett|editor1-first=Denis|editor2-last=Loewe|editor2-first=Michael|chapter=The Economic and Social History of Former Han|title=Cambridge History of China: Volume I: the Ch'in and Han Empires, 221 B.C. – A.D. 220|year=1986|publisher=Cambridge University Press|location=Cambridge|isbn=978-0-521-24327-8|pages=545–607}} once again connecting China directly to the West for land-based trade.{{citation|last=Eberhard|first=Wolfram|title=A History of China|year=2005|publisher=Cosimo|location=New York|isbn=978-1-59605-566-7}} The Tang captured the vital route through the Gilgit Valley from Tibet in 722, lost it to the Tibetans in 737, and regained it under the command of the Goguryeo-Korean General Gao Xianzhi.{{citation|last=Whitfield|first=Susan|title=The Silk Road: Trade, Travel, War and Faith|year=2004|publisher=Serindia|location=Chicago|isbn=978-1-932476-12-5}}While the Turks were settled in the Ordos region (former territory of the Xiongnu), the Tang government took on the military policy of dominating the central steppe. The Tang dynasty (along with Turkic allies) conquered and subdued Central Asia during the 640s and 650s.{{citation|last=Ebrey|first=Patricia Buckley|author-link=Patricia Buckley Ebrey|title=The Cambridge Illustrated History of China|year=1999|publisher=Cambridge University Press|location=Cambridge|isbn=978-0-521-66991-7|url=}} During Emperor Taizong's reign alone, large campaigns were launched against not only the Göktürks, but also separate campaigns against the Tuyuhun, the oasis states, and the Xueyantuo. Under Emperor Taizong, Tang general Li Jing conquered the Eastern Turkic Khaganate. Under Emperor Gaozong, Tang general Su Dingfang conquered the Western Turkic Khaganate, which was an important ally of Byzantine empire.BOOK, Skaff, Jonathan Karem, Nicola Di Cosmo, Military Culture in Imperial China, 2009, Harvard University Press, 978-0-674-03109-8, harv, After these conquests, the Tang dynasty fully controlled the Xiyu, which was the strategic location astride the Silk Road.BOOK, China and her neighbours, from ancient times to the Middle Ages: a collection of essays, Tikhvinskiĭ, Sergeĭ Leonidovich and Leonard Sergeevich Perelomov, Progress Publishers, 1981, 124, This led the Tang dynasty to reopen the Silk Road.The Tang dynasty established a second Pax Sinica, and the Silk Road reached its golden age, whereby Persian and Sogdian merchants benefited from the commerce between East and West. At the same time, the Chinese empire welcomed foreign cultures, making it very cosmopolitan in its urban centres. In addition to the land route, the Tang dynasty also developed the maritime Silk Route. Chinese envoys had been sailing through the Indian Ocean to India since perhaps the 2nd century BCE,{{citation|last=Sun|first=Guangqi|title=History of Navigation in Ancient China|year=1989|publisher=Ocean Press|location=Beijing|isbn=978-7-5027-0532-9}} yet it was during the Tang dynasty that a strong Chinese maritime presence could be found in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea into Persia, Mesopotamia (sailing up the Euphrates River in modern-day Iraq), Arabia, Egypt, Aksum (Ethiopia), and Somalia in the Horn of Africa.{{citation|last=Bowman|first=John S.|title=Columbia Chronologies of Asian History and Culture|year=2000|publisher=Columbia University Press|location=New York}}

Sogdian-Türkic tribes (4th–8th centuries)

(File:Caravane sur la Route de la soie - Atlas catalan.jpg|thumb|Caravan on the Silk Road, 1380)The Silk Road represents an early phenomenon of political and cultural integration due to inter-regional trade. In its heyday, it sustained an international culture that strung together groups as diverse as the Magyars, Armenians, and Chinese. The Silk Road reached its peak in the west during the time of the Byzantine Empire; in the Nile-Oxus section, from the Sassanid Empire period to the Il Khanate period; and in the sinitic zone from the Three Kingdoms period to the Yuan dynasty period. Trade between East and West also developed across the Indian Ocean, between Alexandria in Egypt and Guangzhou in China. Persian Sassanid coins emerged as a means of currency, just as valuable as silk yarn and textiles.Xinru Liu, The Silk Road in World History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 68.Under its strong integrating dynamics on the one hand and the impacts of change it transmitted on the other, tribal societies previously living in isolation along the Silk Road, and pastoralists who were of barbarian cultural development, were drawn to the riches and opportunities of the civilisations connected by the routes, taking on the trades of marauders or mercenaries.{{citation needed|date=October 2014}} "Many barbarian tribes became skilled warriors able to conquer rich cities and fertile lands and to forge strong military empires."BOOK,weblink Aidan of Lindisfarne: Irish Flame Warms a New World, Simpson, Ray, 2014-07-09, Wipf and Stock Publishers, 978-1-62564-762-7, en, live,weblink 2018-02-27, (File:Radhanites2.png|thumb|upright=1.15|right|Map of Eurasia and Africa showing trade networks, c. 870)The Sogdians dominated the East-West trade after the 4th century up to the 8th century, with Suyab and Talas ranking among their main centres in the north. They were the main caravan merchants of Central Asia. Their commercial interests were protected by the resurgent military power of the Göktürks, whose empire has been described as "the joint enterprise of the Ashina clan and the Soghdians".Wink, André. Al-Hind: The Making of the Indo-Islamic World. Brill Academic Publishers, 2002. {{ISBN|0-391-04173-8}}. A.V. Dybo noted that "according to historians, the main driving force of the Great Silk Road were not just Sogdians, but the carriers of a mixed Sogdian-Türkic culture that often came from mixed families."Dybo A.V. (2007) Chronology of Türkic languages and linguistic contacts of early Türks, p. 786, weblink" title="https:/-/">weblinkTheir trade, with some interruptions, continued in the 9th century within the framework of the Uighur Empire, which until 840 extended across northern Central Asia and obtained from China enormous deliveries of silk in exchange for horses. At this time caravans of Sogdians traveling to Upper Mongolia are mentioned in Chinese sources. They played an equally important religious and cultural role. Part of the data about eastern Asia provided by Muslim geographers of the 10th century actually goes back to Sogdian data of the period 750–840 and thus shows the survival of links between east and west. However, after the end of the Uighur Empire, Sogdian trade went through a crisis. What mainly issued from Muslim Central Asia was the trade of the Samanids, which resumed the northwestern road leading to the Khazars and the Urals and the northeastern one toward the nearby Turkic tribes.The Silk Road gave rise to the clusters of military states of nomadic origins in North China, ushered the Nestorian, Manichaean, Buddhist, and later Islamic religions into Central Asia and China.

Islamic era (8th–13th centuries)

{{see|History of Islamic economics}}File:Baghdad 150 to 300 AH.gif|thumb|The Round city of BaghdadRound city of BaghdadFile:Lions, soie polychrome sogdienne, Asie centrale.jpg|thumb|A lion motif on Sogdian polychrome silk, 8th century, most likely from BukharaBukharaBy the Umayyad era, Damascus had overtaken Ctesiphon as a major trade center until the Abbasid dynasty built the city of Baghdad, which became the most important city along the silk road.At the end of its glory, the routes brought about the largest continental empire ever, the Mongol Empire, with its political centres strung along the Silk Road (Beijing in North China, Karakorum in central Mongolia, Sarmakhand in Transoxiana, Tabriz in Northern Iran, realising the political unification of zones previously loosely and intermittently connected by material and cultural goods.{{citation needed|date=October 2014}}The Islamic world expanded into Central Asia during the 8th century, under the Umayyad Caliphate, while its successor the Abbasid Caliphate put a halt to Chinese westward expansion at the Battle of Talas in 751 (near the Talas River in modern-day Kyrgyzstan).Hanks, Reuel R. (2010), Global Security Watch: Central Asia, Santa Barbara, Denver, Oxford: Praeger, p. 4. However, following the disastrous An Lushan Rebellion (755–763) and the conquest of the Western Regions by the Tibetan Empire, the Tang Empire was unable to reassert its control over Central Asia.Ebrey, Patricia Buckley; Walthall, Anne; Palais, James B. (2006), East Asia: A Cultural, Social, and Political History, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, {{ISBN|0-618-13384-4}}, p. 100. Contemporary Tang authors noted how the dynasty had gone into decline after this point.Gascoigne, Bamber; Gascoigne, Christina (2003), The Dynasties of China: A History, New York: Carroll and Graf Publishers, an imprint of Avalon Publishing Group, {{ISBN|0-7867-1219-8}}, p. 97. In 848 the Tang Chinese, led by the commander Zhang Yichao, were only able to reclaim the Hexi Corridor and Dunhuang in Gansu from the Tibetans.Taenzer, Gertraud (2016), "Changing Relations between Administration, Clergy and Lay People in Eastern Central Asia: a Case Study According to the Dunhuang Manuscripts Referring to the Transition from Tibetan to Local Rule in Dunhuang, 8th–11th Centuries", in Carmen Meinert, Transfer of Buddhism Across Central Asian Networks (7th to 13th Centuries), 19–56, Leiden, Boston: Brill, pp. 35–37, {{ISBN|978-90-04-30741-4}}. The Persian Samanid Empire (819–999) centered in Bukhara (Uzbekistan) continued the trade legacy of the Sogdians. The disruptions of trade were curtailed in that part of the world by the end of the 10th century and conquests of Central Asia by the Turkic Islamic Kara-Khanid Khanate, yet Nestorian Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, and Buddhism in Central Asia virtually disappeared.Hanks, Reuel R. (2010), Global Security Watch: Central Asia, Santa Barbara, Denver, Oxford: Praeger, pp. 4–5.During the early 13th century Khwarezmia was invaded by the Mongol Empire. The Mongol ruler Genghis Khan had the once vibrant cities of Bukhara and Samarkand burned to the ground after besieging them.Sophie Ibbotson and Max Lovell-Hoare (2016), Uzbekistan, 2nd edition, Bradt Travel Guides Ltd, pp. 12–13, {{ISBN|978-1-78477-017-4}}. However, in 1370 Samarkand saw a revival as the capital of the new Timurid Empire. The Turko-Mongol ruler Timur forcefully moved artisans and intellectuals from across Asia to Samarkand, making it one of the most important trade centers and cultural entrepôts of the Islamic world.Sophie Ibbotson and Max Lovell-Hoare (2016), Uzbekistan, 2nd edition, Bradt Travel Guides Ltd, pp. 14–15, {{ISBN|978-1-78477-017-4}}.

Mongol empire (13th–14th centuries)

{{See also|Mongol Empire|Pax Mongolica|5=Fonthill Vase}}File:Travels of Marco Polo.svg|thumb|right|Map of Marco PoloMarco PoloThe Mongol expansion throughout the Asian continent from around 1207 to 1360 helped bring political stability and re-established the Silk Road (via Karakorum). It also brought an end to the dominance of the Islamic Caliphate over world trade. Because the Mongols came to control the trade routes, trade circulated throughout the region, though they never abandoned their nomadic lifestyle.The Mongol rulers wanted to establish their capital on the Central Asian steppe, so to accomplish this goal, after every conquest they enlisted local people (traders, scholars, artisans) to help them construct and manage their empire.Xinru Liu, The Silk Road in World History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 109.The Mongol diplomat Rabban Bar Sauma visited the courts of Europe in 1287–88 and provided a detailed written report to the Mongols. Around the same time, the Venetian explorer Marco Polo became one of the first Europeans to travel the Silk Road to China. His tales, documented in The Travels of Marco Polo, opened Western eyes to some of the customs of the Far East. He was not the first to bring back stories, but he was one of the most widely read. He had been preceded by numerous Christian missionaries to the East, such as William of Rubruck, Benedykt Polak, Giovanni da Pian del Carpine, and Andrew of Longjumeau. Later envoys included Odoric of Pordenone, Giovanni de' Marignolli, John of Montecorvino, Niccolò de' Conti, and Ibn Battuta, a Moroccan Muslim traveller who passed through the present-day Middle East and across the Silk Road from Tabriz between 1325–1354.The Pax Mongolica {{webarchive|url= |date=1999-05-05 }}, by Daniel C. Waugh, University of Washington, SeattleIn the 13th century efforts were made at forming a Franco-Mongol alliance, with an exchange of ambassadors and (failed) attempts at military collaboration in the Holy Land during the later Crusades. Eventually the Mongols in the Ilkhanate, after they had destroyed the Abbasid and Ayyubid dynasties, converted to Islam and signed the 1323 Treaty of Aleppo with the surviving Muslim power, the Egyptian Mamluks.{{citation needed|date=October 2014}}Some studies indicate that the Black Death, which devastated Europe starting in the late 1340s, may have reached Europe from Central Asia (or China) along the trade routes of the Mongol Empire.J.N. Hays (2005). Epidemics and pandemics: their impacts on human history {{webarchive|url= |date=2018-02-27 }}. p. 61. {{ISBN|1-85109-658-2}} One theory holds that Genoese traders coming from the entrepot of Trebizond in northern Turkey carried the disease to Western Europe; like many other outbreaks of plague, there is strong evidence that it originated in marmots in Central Asia and was carried westwards to the Black Sea by Silk Road traders.John Kelly (2005). The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time Harper. {{ISBN|0-06-000693-5}}

Decline and disintegration (15th century)

{{refimprove section|date=November 2016}}File:Zheng He.png|thumb|upright=1.35|Port cities on the maritime silk route featured on the (Treasure voyages|voyages of Zheng He]].BOOK, Vadime Elisseeff, The Silk Roads: Highways of Culture and Commerce,weblink 1998, Berghahn Books, 978-1-57181-221-6, 300, live,weblink 2018-02-27, )The fragmentation of the Mongol Empire loosened the political, cultural, and economic unity of the Silk Road. Turkmeni marching lords seized land around the western part of the Silk Road from the decaying Byzantine Empire. After the fall of the Mongol Empire, the great political powers along the Silk Road became economically and culturally separated. Accompanying the crystallisation of regional states was the decline of nomad power, partly due to the devastation of the Black Death and partly due to the encroachment of sedentary civilisations equipped with gunpowder.WEB,weblink The Silk Road: Connecting People and Cultures, Kurin, Richard, Festival, 2 July 2018,

Partial Revival in West Asia

The consolidation of the Ottoman and Safavid empires in the West Asia led to a revival of overland trade, interrupted sporadically by warfare between them.

Collapse (18th century)

The silk trade continued to flourish until it was disrupted by the collapse of the Safavid Empire in the 1720s.BOOK, Faroqhi, Suraiya, İnalcık, Halil, Donald Quataert, An Economic and Social History of the Ottoman Empire, 1300–1914, 2, Cambridge University Press, 1994, 505–07, 524, Crisis and Change, 1590–1699, 978-0-521-57455-6,

New Silk Road (20th - 21st centuries)

Revival of cities (1966)

File:Mawangdui silk banner from tomb no1.jpg|thumb|upright=0.7|right|A silk banner from Mawangdui, Changsha, Hunan province; it was draped over the coffin of Lady Dai (d. 168 BCE), wife of the Marquess Li Cang (利蒼) (d. 186 BCE), chancellor for the (Kings of the Han dynasty|Kingdom of Changsha]].Hansen, Valerie (2000), The Open Empire: A History of China to 1600, New York & London: W.W. Norton & Company, {{ISBN|0-393-97374-3}}, pp. 117–19)After an earthquake that hit Tashkent in Central Asia in 1966, the city had to rebuild itself. Although it took a huge toll on their markets, this commenced a revival of modern silk road cities.Kathy Ceceri, The Silk Road : Explore the World's Most Famous Trade Route (White River Junction, VT: Nomad Press, 2011), 111.

Railway (1990)

The Eurasian Land Bridge, a railway through China, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Russia, is sometimes referred to as the "New Silk Road". The last link in one of these two railway routes was completed in 1990, when the railway systems of China and Kazakhstan connected at Alataw Pass (Alashan Kou). In 2008 the line was used to connect the cities of Ürümqi in China's Xinjiang Province to Almaty and Nur-Sultan in Kazakhstan.NEWS, Asia-Pacific | Asia takes first step on modern 'Silk Route',weblink BBC News, 22 June 2009, 2013-01-05, live,weblink" title="">weblink 11 October 2012, In October 2008 the first Trans-Eurasia Logistics train reached Hamburg from Xiangtan. Starting in July 2011 the line has been used by a freight service that connects Chongqing, China with Duisburg, Germany,WEB,weblink A Silk Road for the 21st century: Freight rail linking China and Germany officially begins operations, Shanghaiist, live,weblink" title="">weblink 2011-09-04, 2011-07-04, cutting travel time for cargo from about 36 days by container ship to just 13 days by freight train. In 2013, Hewlett-Packard began moving large freight trains of laptop computers and monitors along this rail route.NEWS, Bradsher, Keith, 20 July 2013, Hauling New Treasure Along the Silk Road,weblink The New York Times, 22 July 2013, live,weblink" title="">weblink 24 October 2014, In January 2017, the service sent its first train to London. The network additionally connects to Madrid and Milan.NEWS,weblink 'China freight train' in first trip to Barking, 2017-01-03, BBC News, en-GB, 2017-01-05, live,weblink" title="">weblink 2017-01-04, Silk Road route back in business as China train rolls into London {{webarchive|url= |date=2017-01-15 }}, Tracy McVeigh, The Observer, 14 January 2017

Belt and Road Initiative (2013)

In September 2013, during a visit to Kazakhstan, Chinese President Xi Jinping introduced a plan for a New Silk Road from China to Europe. The latest iterations of this plan, dubbed the "Belt and Road Initiative" (BRI), includes a land-based Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, with primary points in Ürümqi, Dostyk, Nur-Sultan, Gomel, the Belarussian city of Brest, and the Polish cities of Małaszewicze and Łódź—which would be hubs of logistics and transshipment to other countries of Europe.WEB,weblink New Silk Route or Classic Developmental Cul-de-Sac? The Prospects and Challenges of China's OBOR Initiative, Cooley, Alexander, July 2015, PONARS Eurasia, 10 February 2016, live,weblink" title="">weblink 21 May 2016, NEWS, China plans new Silk Route across Ukraine,weblink Russian News Agency TASS, 9 December 2013, 10 February 2016, live,weblink" title="">weblink 6 March 2016, NEWS, Sahoo, Pravakar, 22 December 2015, India should be part of the new Silk Route,weblink The Hindu Business Line, 10 February 2016, live,weblink 27 February 2018, WEB,weblink China's new silk route: The long and winding road, PricewaterhouseCoopers, February 2016, 10 February 2016, live,weblink" title="">weblink 5 March 2016, On 15 February 2016, with a change in routing, the first train dispatched under the scheme arrived from eastern Zhejiang Province to Tehran.WEB, First 'Silk Road' train arrives in Tehran from China,weblink Yahoo News, 2016-02-16, live,weblink" title="">weblink 2016-02-16, Though this section does not complete the Silk Road–style overland connection between China and Europe, plans are underway to extend the route past Tehran, through Istanbul, into Europe. The actual route went through Almaty, Bishkek, Samarkand, and Dushanbe.


{{details|Cities along the Silk Road}}The Silk Road consisted of several routes. As it extended westwards from the ancient commercial centres of China, the overland, intercontinental Silk Road divided into northern and (Southern Silk Road: Through Khotan|southern routes) bypassing the Taklamakan Desert and Lop Nur. Merchants along these routes where involved in "relay trade" in which goods changed "hands many times before reaching their final destinations."BOOK, Ways of the World: A Global History, Strayer, Robert W., Bedford/St. Martin's, 2009, New York, 219,

Northern route

(File:Silk Road in the I century AD - en.svg|thumb|upright=1.35|The Silk Road in the 1st century)(File:SeidenstrasseGMT.JPG|upright=1.35|thumb|The Silk Road)The northern route started at Chang'an (now called Xi'an), an ancient capital of China that was moved further east during the Later Han to Luoyang. The route was defined around the 1st century BCE when Han Wudi put an end to harassment by nomadic tribes.{{Citation needed|date=March 2008}}The northern route travelled northwest through the Chinese province of Gansu from Shaanxi Province and split into three further routes, two of them following the mountain ranges to the north and south of the Taklamakan Desert to rejoin at Kashgar, and the other going north of the Tian Shan mountains through Turpan, Talgar, and Almaty (in what is now southeast Kazakhstan). The routes split again west of Kashgar, with a southern branch heading down the Alai Valley towards Termez (in modern Uzbekistan) and Balkh (Afghanistan), while the other travelled through Kokand in the Fergana Valley (in present-day eastern Uzbekistan) and then west across the Karakum Desert. Both routes joined the main southern route before reaching ancient Merv, Turkmenistan. Another branch of the northern route turned northwest past the Aral Sea and north of the Caspian Sea, then and on to the Black Sea.A route for caravans, the northern Silk Road brought to China many goods such as "dates, saffron powder and pistachio nuts from Persia; frankincense, aloes and myrrh from Somalia; sandalwood from India; glass bottles from Egypt, and other expensive and desirable goods from other parts of the world."Ulric Killion, A Modern Chinese Journey to the West: Economic Globalisation And Dualism, (Nova Science Publishers: 2006), p.66 In exchange, the caravans sent back bolts of silk brocade, lacquer-ware, and porcelain.

Southern route

The southern route or Karakoram route was mainly a single route from China through the Karakoram mountains, where it persists in modern times as the Karakoram Highway, a paved road that connects Pakistan and China.{{citation needed|date=October 2014}} It then set off westwards, but with southward spurs so travelers could complete the journey by sea from various points. Crossing the high mountains, it passed through northern Pakistan, over the Hindu Kush mountains, and into Afghanistan, rejoining the northern route near Merv, Turkmenistan. From Merv, it followed a nearly straight line west through mountainous northern Iran, Mesopotamia, and the northern tip of the Syrian Desert to the Levant, where Mediterranean trading ships plied regular routes to Italy, while land routes went either north through Anatolia or south to North Africa. Another branch road travelled from Herat through Susa to Charax Spasinu at the head of the Persian Gulf and across to Petra and on to Alexandria and other eastern Mediterranean ports from where ships carried the cargoes to Rome.{{citation needed|date=October 2014}}

Southwestern route

{{see also|Tea Horse Road}}{{multiple image| align = right | direction = horizontal | header = | header_align = left/right/center | footer = Woven silk textiles from Tomb No. 1 at Mawangdui, Changsha, Hunan province, China, Western Han dynasty period, dated 2nd century BCE| footer_align = left | image1 = Silk from Mawangdui 2.jpg | width1 = 150 | caption1 = | image2 = Silk from Mawangdui.jpg | width2 = 150 | caption2 = }}The southwestern route is believed to be the Ganges/Brahmaputra Delta, which has been the subject of international interest for over two millennia. Strabo, the 1st-century Roman writer, mentions the deltaic lands: "Regarding merchants who now sail from far as the Ganges, they are only private citizens..." His comments are interesting as Roman beads and other materials are being found at Wari-Bateshwar ruins, the ancient city with roots from much earlier, before the Bronze Age, presently being slowly excavated beside the Old Brahmaputra in Bangladesh. Ptolemy's map of the Ganges Delta, a remarkably accurate effort, showed that his informants knew all about the course of the Brahmaputra River, crossing through the Himalayas then bending westward to its source in Tibet. It is doubtless that this delta was a major international trading center, almost certainly from much earlier than the Common Era. Gemstones and other merchandise from Thailand and Java were traded in the delta and through it. Chinese archaeological writer Bin Yang and some earlier writers and archaeologists, such as Janice Stargardt, strongly suggest this route of international trade as Sichuan–Yunnan–Burma–Bangladesh route. According to Bin Yang, especially from the 12th century the route was used to ship bullion from Yunnan (gold and silver are among the minerals in which Yunnan is rich), through northern Burma, into modern Bangladesh, making use of the ancient route, known as the 'Ledo' route. The emerging evidence of the ancient cities of Bangladesh, in particular Wari-Bateshwar ruins, Mahasthangarh, Bhitagarh, Bikrampur, Egarasindhur, and Sonargaon, are believed to be the international trade centers in this route.Yang, Bin. (2008). Between Winds and Clouds: The Making of Yunnan. New York: Columbia University PressWEB,weblink History and Legend of Sino-Bangla Contacts,, 28 September 2010, 2013-04-17, live,weblink" title="">weblink 28 September 2013, WEB,weblink Holiday,, 2013-04-17, live,weblink" title="">weblink 2013-06-15,

Maritime route

Maritime Silk Road or Maritime Silk Route refer to the (wikt:maritime|maritime) section of historic Silk Road that connects China to Southeast Asia, Indonesian archipelago, Indian subcontinent, Arabian peninsula, all the way to Egypt and finally Europe.WEB, Maritime Silk Road, SEAArch,weblink live,weblink" title="">weblink 2014-01-05, The trade route encompassed numbers of bodies of waters; including South China Sea, Strait of Malacca, Indian Ocean, Gulf of Bengal, Arabian Sea, Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. The maritime route overlaps with historic Southeast Asian maritime trade, Spice trade, Indian Ocean trade and after 8th century â€“ the Arabian naval trade network. The network also extend eastward to East China Sea and Yellow Sea to connect China with Korean Peninsula and Japanese archipelago.

Expansion of religions

File:Nestorian-Stele-Budge-plate-X.jpg|thumb|The Nestorian SteleNestorian SteleRichard Foltz, Xinru Liu, and others have described how trading activities along the Silk Road over many centuries facilitated the transmission not just of goods but also ideas and culture, notably in the area of religions. Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, Manichaeism, and Islam all spread across Eurasia through trade networks that were tied to specific religious communities and their institutions.Richard Foltz, Religions of the Silk Road, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2nd edition, 2010, {{ISBN|978-0-230-62125-1}} Notably, established Buddhist monasteries along the Silk Road offered a haven, as well as a new religion for foreigners.Xinru Liu, The Silk Road in World History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 77.The spread of religions and cultural traditions along the Silk Roads, according to Jerry H. Bentley, also led to syncretism. One example was the encounter with the Chinese and Xiongnu nomads. These unlikely events of cross-cultural contact allowed both cultures to adapt to each other as an alternative. The Xiongnu adopted Chinese agricultural techniques, dress style, and lifestyle, while the Chinese adopted Xiongnu military techniques, some dress style, music, and dance.Jerry H. Bentley, Old World Encounters: Cross-Cultural Contacts and Exchanges in Pre-Modern Times (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 38. Perhaps most surprising of the cultural exchanges between China and the Xiongnu, Chinese soldiers sometimes defected and converted to the Xiongnu way of life, and stayed in the steppes for fear of punishment.Nomadic mobility played a key role in facilitating inter-regional contacts and cultural exchanges along the ancient Silk Roads.JOURNAL, Hermes, Taylor R., Frachetti, Michael D., Bullion, Elissa A., Maksudov, Farhod, Mustafokulov, Samariddin, Makarewicz, Cheryl A., Urban and nomadic isotopic niches reveal dietary connectivities along Central Asia's Silk Roads, Scientific Reports, 26 March 2018, 8, 1, 5177, 10.1038/s41598-018-22995-2, 29581431,weblink 1 May 2018, En, 2045-2322, 2018NatSR...8.5177H, 5979964, JOURNAL, Frachetti, Michael D., Smith, C. Evan, Traub, Cynthia M., Williams, Tim, Nomadic ecology shaped the highland geography of Asia's Silk Roads, Nature, 8 March 2017, 543, 7644, 193–98, 10.1038/nature21696,weblink 1 May 2018, En, 0028-0836, 2017Natur.543..193F,

Transmission of Christianity

{{Further|Nestorian Christianity|Church of the East}}The transmission of Christianity was primarily known as Nestorianism on the Silk Road. In 781, an inscribed stele shows Nestorian Christian missionaries arriving on the Silk Road. Christianity had spread both east and west, simultaneously bringing Syriac language and evolving the forms of worship."Belief Systems Along the Silk Road," Asia Society website, WEB,weblink Belief Systems Along the Silk Road, 2016-11-17, live,weblink" title="">weblink 2016-11-17, , retrieved on 14 November 2016.

Transmission of Buddhism

File:Central Asian Buddhist Monks.jpeg|thumb|A blue-eyed Central Asian monk teaching an East-Asian monk, Bezeklik, Turfan, eastern Tarim Basin, China, 9th century; the monk on the right is possibly Tocharian,von Le Coq, Albert. (1913). Chotscho: Facsimile-Wiedergaben der Wichtigeren Funde der Ersten Königlich Preussischen Expedition nach Turfan in Ost-Turkistan {{webarchive|url= |date=2016-09-15 }}. Berlin: Dietrich Reimer (Ernst Vohsen), im Auftrage der Gernalverwaltung der Königlichen Museen aus Mitteln des Baessler-Institutes, Tafel 19 {{webarchive|url= |date=2016-09-15 }}. (Accessed 3 September 2016). although more likely Sogdian.Ethnic Sogdians have been identified as the (:File:BezeklikSogdianMerchants.jpg|Caucasian figures seen in the same cave temple) (No. 9). See the following source: Gasparini, Mariachiara. "A Mathematic Expression of Art: Sino-Iranian and Uighur Textile Interactions and the Turfan Textile Collection in Berlin, {{webarchive|url= |date=2017-05-25 }}" in Rudolf G. Wagner and Monica Juneja (eds), Transcultural Studies, Ruprecht-Karls Universität Heidelberg, No 1 (2014), pp. 134–63. {{ISSN|2191-6411}}. See also endnote #32 {{webarchive|url= |date=2017-05-25 }}. (Accessed 3 September 2016.)For information on the Sogdians, an Eastern Iranian people, and their inhabitation of Turfan as an ethnic minority community during the phases of Tang Chinese (7th–8th century) and (Kingdom of Qocho|Uyghur rule]] (9th–13th century), see Hansen, Valerie (2012), The Silk Road: A New History, Oxford University Press, p. 98, {{ISBN|978-0-19-993921-3}}.)The transmission of Buddhism to China via the Silk Road began in the 1st century CE, according to a semi-legendary account of an ambassador sent to the West by the Chinese Emperor Ming (58–75). During this period Buddhism began to spread throughout Southeast, East, and Central Asia.Jerry H. Bentley, Old World Encounters: Cross-Cultural Contacts and Exchanges in Pre-Modern Times (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 69, 73. Mahayana, Theravada, and Tibetan Buddhism are the three primary forms of Buddhism that spread across Asia via the Silk Road.JOURNAL, Anderson, James A., 2009, China's Southwestern Silk Road in World History,weblink World History Connected, 6, 1, 2 December 2013, live,weblink" title="">weblink 9 February 2014, The Buddhist movement was the first large-scale missionary movement in the history of world religions. Chinese missionaries were able to assimilate Buddhism, to an extent, to native Chinese Daoists, which brought the two beliefs together.Jerry Bentley, Old World Encounters: Cross-Cultural Contacts and Exchanges in Pre-Modern Times (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 16. Buddha's community of followers, the Sangha, consisted of male and female monks and laity. These people moved through India and beyond to spread the ideas of Buddha.BOOK, Foltz, Richard C., Religions of the Silk Road: Overland Trade and Cultural Exchange from Antiquity to the Fifteenth Century, 1999, St Martin's Press, New York, 37, As the number of members within the Sangha increased, it became costly so that only the larger cities were able to afford having the Buddha and his disciples visit.Xinru Liu, "The Silk Road in World History" (New york: Oxford University Press, 2010), p. 51. It is believed that under the control of the Kushans, Buddhism was spread to China and other parts of Asia from the middle of the first century to the middle of the third century.Xinru Liu, "The Silk Road in World History" (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), p. 42. Extensive contacts started in the 2nd century, probably as a consequence of the expansion of the Kushan empire into the Chinese territory of the Tarim Basin, due to the missionary efforts of a great number of Buddhist monks to Chinese lands. The first missionaries and translators of Buddhists scriptures into Chinese were either Parthian, Kushan, Sogdian, or Kuchean.Foltz, "Religions of the Silk Road", pp. 37–58File:AsokaKandahar.jpg|thumb|right|Bilingual edict (Greek and Aramaic) by Indian Buddhist King Ashoka, 3rd century BCE; see Edicts of Ashoka, from Kandahar. This edict advocates the adoption of "godliness" using the Greek term Eusebeia for Dharma. KabulKabulOne result of the spread of Buddhism along the Silk Road was displacement and conflict. The Greek Seleucids were exiled to Iran and Central Asia because of a new Iranian dynasty called the Parthians at the beginning of the 2nd century BCE, and as a result the Parthians became the new middle men for trade in a period when the Romans were major customers for silk. Parthian scholars were involved in one of the first ever Buddhist text translations into the Chinese language. Its main trade centre on the Silk Road, the city of Merv, in due course and with the coming of age of Buddhism in China, became a major Buddhist centre by the middle of the 2nd century.BOOK, Foltz, Richard C., Religions of the Silk Road: Overland Trade and Cultural Exchange from Antiquity to the Fifteenth Century, 1999, St Martin's Press, New York, 47, Knowledge among people on the silk roads also increased when Emperor Ashoka of the Maurya dynasty (268–239 BCE) converted to Buddhism and raised the religion to official status in his northern Indian empire.BOOK, Foltz, Richard C., Religions of the Silk Road: Overland Trade and Cultural Exchange from Antiquity to the Fifteenth Century, 1999, St Martin's Press, New York, 38, From the 4th century CE onward, Chinese pilgrims also started to travel on the Silk Road to India to get improved access to the original Buddhist scriptures, with Fa-hsien's pilgrimage to India (395–414), and later Xuanzang (629–644) and Hyecho, who traveled from Korea to India.WEB,weblink Ancient Silk Road Travellers, Silkroad Foundation, Adela C.Y. Lee, live,weblink" title="">weblink 2009-08-06, The travels of the priest Xuanzang were fictionalized in the 16th century in a fantasy adventure novel called Journey to the West, which told of trials with demons and the aid given by various disciples on the journey.File:A statue depicting Buddha giving sermon, from Sarnath, now at Museum of Asian Art, Dahem Berlin.jpg|thumb|A statue depicting Buddha giving a sermon, from 3000|km|0|abbr=on}} southwest of Urumqi, Xinjiang, 8th centuryThere were many different schools of Buddhism travelling on the Silk Road. The Dharmaguptakas and the Sarvastivadins were two of the major Nikaya schools. These were both eventually displaced by the Mahayana, also known as "Great Vehicle". This movement of Buddhism first gained influence in the Khotan region. The Mahayana, which was more of a "pan-Buddhist movement" than a school of Buddhism, appears to have begun in northwestern India or Central Asia. It formed during the 1st century BCE and was small at first, and the origins of this "Greater Vehicle" are not fully clear. Some Mahayana scripts were found in northern Pakistan, but the main texts are still believed to have been composed in Central Asia along the Silk Road. These different schools and movements of Buddhism were a result of the diverse and complex influences and beliefs on the Silk Road.BOOK, Foltz, Richard C., Religions of the Silk Road: Overland Trade and Cultural Exchange from Antiquity to the Fifteenth Century, 1999, St Martin's Press, New York, 41, With the rise of Mahayana Buddhism, the initial direction of Buddhist development changed. This form of Buddhism highlighted, as stated by Xinru Liu, "the elusiveness of physical reality, including material wealth." It also stressed getting rid of material desire to a certain point; this was often difficult for followers to understand.Xinru Liu, "The Silk Road in World History" (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), p. 21.During the 5th and 6th centuries CE, merchants played a large role in the spread of religion, in particular Buddhism. Merchants found the moral and ethical teachings of Buddhism an appealing alternative to previous religions. As a result, merchants supported Buddhist monasteries along the Silk Road, and in return the Buddhists gave the merchants somewhere to stay as they traveled from city to city. As a result, merchants spread Buddhism to foreign encounters as they traveled.Jerry H. Bentley, Old World Encounters: Cross-Cultural Contacts and Exchanges in Pre-Modern Times (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 43–44. Merchants also helped to establish diaspora within the communities they encountered, and over time their cultures became based on Buddhism. As a result, these communities became centers of literacy and culture with well-organized marketplaces, lodging, and storage.Jerry H. Bentley, Old World Encounters: Cross-Cultural Contacts and Exchanges in Pre-Modern Times (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 48. The voluntary conversion of Chinese ruling elites helped the spread of Buddhism in East Asia and led Buddhism to become widespread in Chinese society.Jerry H. Bentley, Old World Encounters: Cross-Cultural Contacts and Exchanges in Pre-Modern Times (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 50. The Silk Road transmission of Buddhism essentially ended around the 7th century with the rise of Islam in Central Asia.

Expansion of the arts

File:WindGods.JPG|thumb|upright=1.6|Iconographical evolution of the Wind God. Left: Greek Wind God from Hadda, 2nd century. Middle: Wind God from Kizil, Tarim Basin, 7th century. Right: Japanese Wind God Fujin, 17th century.]]Many artistic influences were transmitted via the Silk Road, particularly through Central Asia, where Hellenistic, Iranian, Indian and Chinese influences could intermix. Greco-Buddhist art represents one of the most vivid examples of this interaction. Silk was also a representation of art, serving as a religious symbol. Most importantly, silk was used as currency for trade along the silk road.Xinru, Liu,The Silk Road in World History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 21.These artistic influences can be seen in the development of Buddhism where, for instance, Buddha was first depicted as human in the Kushan period. Many scholars have attributed this to Greek influence. The mixture of Greek and Indian elements can be found in later Buddhist art in China and throughout countries on the Silk Road.BOOK, Foltz, Richard C., Religions of the Silk Road: Overland Trade and Cultural Exchange from Antiquity to the Fifteenth Century, 1999, St Martin's Press, New York, 45, The production of art consisted of many different items that were traded along the Silk Roads from the East to the West. One common product, the lapis lazuli, was a blue stone with golden specks, which was used as paint after it was ground into powder.WEB,weblink live, The Silk Road and Beyond: Travel, Trade, and Transformation, Art Institute of Chicago website, 2016-11-15,weblink" title="">weblink 2016-11-14,


On 22 June 2014, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) named the Silk Road a World Heritage Site at the 2014 Conference on World Heritage. The United Nations World Tourism Organization has been working since 1993 to develop sustainable international tourism along the route with the stated goal of fostering peace and understanding.WEB,weblink Objectives, live,weblink" title="">weblink 2013-03-15, Bishkek and Almaty each have a major east-west street named after the Silk Road (, Jibek Jolu in Bishkek, and , Jibek Joly in Almaty).

Foreign language terms{| class"wikitable"

! Language! Text! Transliteration (if applicable)Chinese language>ChineseHaniHani|丝绸之路}}(simplified)Hani|Sīchóu zhī lù}}|Sanskrit / HindiPersian language>Persianfa|جاده ی ابریشم}}fa|Jâdeye Abrišam}}{{transl|fa|Shâhrâh-i Abrešim}}Punjabi language>Punjabipa|ਕੌਸ਼ਿਆ ਮਾਰਗ}}pa|Kausheya Mārg}}|Urduur|شاہراہ ریشم}}ur|shah rah resham}}|Kannada|Kawi languageTamil language>Tamilta|Paṭṭu vaḻi}}Uzbek language>Uzbekuz|إيباك يولي}}uz|Ipak yo'li}}Turkmen language>TurkmenTurkish language>TurkishAzerbaijanis>Azeri|Arabicar|طريق الحرير}}ar|Tarīq al-Ḥarīr}}Hebrew language>Hebrewhe|דרך המשי}}he|Derekh ha-Meshi}}Greek language>Greekel|Drómos tou metaxioú'}}|LatinArmenian language>Armenianhy|Metaksi chanaparh}}Tagalog language>TagalogSomali language>SomaliKorean language>Koreanko|Bidangil}}Sinhalese language>Sinhala|සේද මාවත|Sedha mawatha


File:Caravanserai of Sa'd al-Saltaneh 1.jpg|Caravanserai of Sa'd al-SaltanehFile:Sultanhani Caravanserai, Turkey1.jpg|Sultanhani caravanseraiFile:Caravasar de Sultanhani. Han.jpg|Sultanhani caravanseraiFile:Caravanserai-Sheki.jpg|Shaki Caravanserai, Shaki, AzerbaijanFile:İkimərtəbəli karvansaray daxili həyət 2016.jpg|Two-Storeyed Caravanserai, Baku, AzerbaijanFile:The remains of a bridge2.jpg|bridge in Ani, capital of medieval ArmeniaFile:Taldyk pass (3600 m).jpg|Taldyk passFile:Zeinodin Caravanserai.jpg|Zeinodin CaravanseraiFile:Westerner on a camel.jpg|Sogdian man on a Bactrian camel, sancai ceramic glaze, Chinese Tang dynasty (618–907)File:Summer Vacation 2007, 263, Watchtower In The Morning Light, Dunhuang, Gansu Province.jpg|The ruins of a Han dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE) Chinese watchtower made of rammed earth at Dunhuang, Gansu provinceFile:WhiteHanBronzeMirror.JPG|A late Zhou or early Han Chinese bronze mirror inlaid with glass, perhaps incorporated Greco-Roman artistic patternsFile:Xihan rhino, gold & silver inlays.JPG|A Chinese Western Han dynasty (202 BCE – 9 CE) bronze rhinoceros with gold and silver inlayFile:Han Dynasty Granary west of Dunhuang.jpg|Han dynasty Granary west of Dunhuang on the Silk Road.File:Green glass Roman cup unearthed at Eastern Han tomb, Guixian, China.jpg|Green Roman glass cup unearthed from an Eastern Han dynasty (25–220 CE) tomb, Guangxi, southern China

See also

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  • Litvinsky, B.A., ed. (1996). History of civilizations of Central Asia, Volume III. The crossroads of civilizations: 250 to 750. Paris, UNESCO Publishing.
  • Liu, Xinru (2001). "Migration and Settlement of the Yuezhi-Kushan: Interaction and Interdependence of Nomadic and Sedentary Societies." Journal of World History, Volume 12, No. 2, Fall 2001. University of Hawaii Press, pp. 261–92. weblink.
  • Liu, Li, 2004, The Chinese Neolithic, Trajectories to Early States, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Liu, Xinru (2010). The Silk Road in World History. Oxford University Press. {{ISBN|978-0-19-516174-8|978-0-19-533810-2}}.
  • McDonald, Angus (1995). The Five Foot Road: In Search of a Vanished China., San Francisco: HarperCollins
  • Malkov, Artemy (2007). The Silk Road: A mathematical model. History & Mathematics, ed. by Peter Turchin et al. Moscow: KomKniga. {{ISBN|978-5-484-01002-8}}
  • Mallory, J.P. and Mair, Victor H. (2000). The Tarim Mummies: Ancient China and the Mystery of the Earliest Peoples from the West. Thames & Hudson, London.
  • Ming Pao. "Hong Kong proposes Silk Road on the Sea as World Heritage", 7 August 2005, p. A2.
  • Osborne, Milton, 1975. River Road to China: The Mekong River Expedition, 1866–73. George Allen & Unwin Lt.
  • Puri, B.N, 1987 Buddhism in Central Asia, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited, Delhi. (2000 reprint).
  • Ray, Himanshu Prabha, 2003. The Archaeology of Seafaring in Ancient South Asia. Cambridge University Press. {{ISBN|0-521-80455-8|0-521-01109-4}}.
  • Sarianidi, Viktor, 1985. The Golden Hoard of Bactria: From the Tillya-tepe Excavations in Northern Afghanistan. Harry N. Abrams, New York.
  • Schafer, Edward H. 1963. The Golden Peaches of Samarkand: A study of T'ang Exotics. University of California Press. Berkeley and Los Angeles. 1st paperback edition: 1985. {{ISBN|0-520-05462-8}}.
  • Stein, Aurel M. 1907. Ancient Khotan: Detailed report of archaeological explorations in Chinese Turkestan, 2 vols. Clarendon Press. Oxford.weblink
  • Stein, Aurel M., 1912. Ruins of Desert Cathay: Personal narrative of explorations in Central Asia and westernmost China, 2 vols. Reprint: Delhi. Low Price Publications. 1990.
  • Stein, Aurel M., 1921. Serindia: Detailed report of explorations in Central Asia and westernmost China, 5 vols. London & Oxford. Clarendon Press. Reprint: Delhi. Motilal Banarsidass. 1980.weblink
  • Stein Aurel M., 1928. Innermost Asia: Detailed report of explorations in Central Asia, Kan-su and Eastern Iran, 5 vols. Clarendon Press. Reprint: New Delhi. Cosmo Publications. 1981.
  • Stein Aurel M., 1932 On Ancient Central Asian Tracks: Brief Narrative of Three Expeditions in Innermost Asia and Northwestern China. Reprinted with Introduction by Jeannette Mirsky. Book Faith India, Delhi. 1999.
  • Thorsten, Marie. 2006 "Silk Road Nostalgia and Imagined Global Community". Comparative American Studies 3, no. 3: 343–59.
  • Waugh, Daniel. (2007). "Richthofen "Silk Roads": Toward the Archeology of a Concept." The Silk Road. Volume 5, Number 1, Summer 2007, pp. 1–10. weblink
  • von Le Coq, Albert, 1928. Buried Treasures of Turkestan. Reprint with Introduction by Peter Hopkirk, Oxford University Press. 1985.
  • Whitfield, Susan, 1999. Life Along the Silk Road. London: John Murray.
  • Wimmel, Kenneth, 1996. The Alluring Target: In Search of the Secrets of Central Asia. Trackless Sands Press, Palo Alto, CA. {{ISBN|1-879434-48-2}}
  • Yan, Chen, 1986. "Earliest Silk Route: The Southwest Route." Chen Yan. China Reconstructs, Vol. XXXV, No. 10. October 1986, pp. 59–62.
  • BOOK, Sir Henry, Yule (translator and editor), Printed for the Hakluyt society, 1866, Cathay and the way thither: being a collection of medieval notices of China. Issue 37 of Works issued by the Hakluyt Society,weblink

Further reading

  • Boulnois, Luce. Silk Road: Monks, Warriors and Merchants on the Silk Road. Odyssey Publications, 2005. {{ISBN|962-217-720-4}}
  • Bulliet, Richard W. 1975. The Camel and the Wheel. Harvard University Press. {{ISBN|0-674-09130-2}}.
  • JOURNAL, Christian, David, 2000, Silk Roads or Steppe Roads? The Silk Roads in World History, Journal of World History, 2.1, Spring, 1,
  • de la Vaissière, E., Sogdian Traders. A History, Leiden, Brill, 2005, Hardback {{ISBN|90-04-14252-5}} Brill Publishers, French version {{ISBN|2-85757-064-3}} on weblink
  • Elisseeff, Vadime. Editor. 1998. The Silk Roads: Highways of Culture and Commerce. UNESCO Publishing. Paris. Reprint: 2000. {{ISBN|92-3-103652-1}} softback; {{ISBN|1-57181-221-0|1-57181-222-9}}.
  • Forbes, Andrew ; Henley, David (2011). China's Ancient Tea Horse Road. Chiang Mai: Cognoscenti Books. {{ASIN|B005DQV7Q2}}
  • Frankopan, Peter. The Silk Roads: A New History of the World (2016), Very wide-ranging scholarly survey, albeit without any maps.
  • Hansen, Valerie. The Silk Road: A New History (Oxford University Press; 2012) 304 pages; Combines archaeology and history in a study of seven oases
  • Hallikainen, Saana: Connections from Europe to Asia and how the trading was affected by the cultural exchange (2002)
  • Hill, John E. (2004). The Peoples of the West from the Weilüe 魏略 by Yu Huan é­šè±¢: A Third Century Chinese Account Composed between 239 and 265. Draft annotated English translation. weblink
  • Hopkirk, Peter: (The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia); Kodansha International, New York, 1990, 1992.
  • Kuzmina, E.E. The Prehistory of the Silk Road. (2008) Edited by Victor H. Mair. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia. {{ISBN|978-0-8122-4041-2}}
  • Larsen, Jeanne. Silk Road: A Novel of Eighth-Century China. (1989; reprinted 2009)
  • JOURNAL, Levy, Scott C., 2012, Early Modern Central Asia in World History, History Compass, 10, 11, 866–78, 10.1111/hic3.12004,
  • Li et al. weblink" title="">"Evidence that a West-East admixed population lived in the Tarim Basin as early as the early Bronze Age". BMC Biology 2010, 8:15.
  • Liu, Xinru, and Shaffer, Lynda Norene. 2007. Connections Across Eurasia: Transportation, Communication, and Cultural Exchange on the Silk Roads. McGraw Hill, New York. {{ISBN|978-0-07-284351-4}}.
  • Miller, Roy Andrew (1959): Accounts of Western Nations in the History of the Northern Chou Dynasty. University of California Press.
  • BOOK, Bijan Omrani, Omrani, Bijan,weblink Asia Overland: Tales of Travel on the Trans-Siberian and Silk Road, Jeremy, Tredinnick, Hong Kong New York, Odyssey Distribution in the US by W.W. Norton & Co, Odyssey Publications, 2010, 978-962-217-811-3,
  • Polo, Marco, Il Milione.
  • Thubron, C., The Silk Road to China (Hamlyn, 1989)
  • Tuladhar, Kamal Ratna (2011). Caravan to Lhasa: A Merchant of Kathmandu in Traditional Tibet. Kathmandu: Lijala & Tisa. {{ISBN|99946-58-91-3}}
  • BOOK, Watt, James C.Y., Wardwell, Anne E., When silk was gold: Central Asian and Chinese textiles, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1997, 978-0-87099-825-6,
  • Weber, Olivier, Eternal Afghanistan (photographs of Reza), (Unesco-Le Chêne, 2002)
  • Yap, Joseph P. Wars With the Xiongnu – A Translation From Zizhi Tongjian. AuthorHouse (2009) {{ISBN|978-1-4490-0604-4}}
  • National Institute of Informatics – Digital Silk Road Project Digital Archive of Toyo Bunko Rare Books
  • Digital Silk Road > Toyo Bunko Archive > List of Books

External links

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