The Silk Road is a coined word of German geographer, Ferdinand von Richthofen, pertaining to the collection of ancient interconnected routes that was used for transporting commodities starting from 114 BC by the Han Dynasty until 1400. Though its primary purpose was trade and commerce, this collection of routes had been also a way for the transmission of cultures by that time and had served as a great help for the formation of the great civilizations of China, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia, Indian subcontinent, and Rome. Looking ahead…
The Silk Road
During the 2nd Century BC, China’s most valuable commodity transporting to the Roman Empire was silk. The ancient collection of roads used to transfer this precious good was then named after it by German geographer, Ferdinand von Richthofen.
Silk Road trader’s caravan passes through a 7000 kilometers long route, and then passes finally the goods to ships that would deliver them to their designated ports. Commonly, these goods were brought to the Roman Empire and its nearby states such to the modern day Israel, Lebanon, Egypt, Portugal and Sweden, but some were brought to known progressive ports of the present day Brunei, Thailand, Malacca, Ceylon, India, Pakistan, Philippines, and Iran.
Beside of the effect in trading and commerce, the Silk Road had also been a great factor in the transmission of cultures of the states involved. Buddhism, a religion following the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, had used the Silk Road Route together with its traders in order to influence vast people from different regions. Unique ways for giving imagery to Gautama Buddha had developed for different civilizations such as in this standing Gautama Buddha, ancient region of Gandhara, northern Pakistan, 1st century CE, Musée Guimet, Paris. Art had also been influenced as this is verified through this example Greco-Buddhist piece of art.
Chinese, being the main traders in the Silk Road, had exceptionally influenced every state they would trade into. Because Chinese were famous for their ornamented glazed ceramics, Italians had adopted their style in pottery as this is seen in these mid-15th century pot, plate and jar.
The Great Silk Road guide, Map of the Silk Road. April 14, 2008.
< http://www.orexca.com/silkroad.php >
Silk Road. April 14, 2008. <en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silk_Road>
Greco-Buddhism. April 14, 2008. <http://www.mlahanas.de/Greeks/LX/GrecoBuddhism.html>