The Role of Silk Road in World's History

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Silk Road CCOT

The Silk Road was important during 200 BCE to 1450 CE in connecting China in Eastern Asia to the empires such as Rome in the West. Though the flow of goods, ideas, religions, customs, languages, and diseases passed along remained constant, the nations that influenced the Silk Road with increased interactions changed over time.

Around 200 BCE, the Silk Road evolved and it connected the Roman Empire in the West to the Chinese Han Dynasty in the East. The Silk Road inspired Marco Polo in his journey. Both the empires, being at the two ends of the Silk Road, controlled their regions. Due to their wealth and power, luxury items were traded such as silk which the Europeans became addicted to and spices. The heavily traded silk product earned the Silk Road its name. Even though at time the goods may have been altered, the purpose of Silk Road stayed the same because of the constant influx of goods kept both regions running. The Silk Road was used heavily during the peaceful and prosperous times such as the Pax Romana and the Han Golden Age.

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When Western Rome fell in 476 CE and Eastern Rome survived and became relabeled as the Byzantine Empire, which lasted for 1,123 years. They continued trade along the Silk but to a lesser extent due to the fall of the Han Dynasty of China. Other empires based in Eastern Europe were also added to the Silk Road trade increasing interactions and goods available to be trade along the Silk Road. The large empires could no longer guarantee safety for travelers, interactions became more dangerous and trade declined. The flow of goods continued and silk, fabrics, and spices which the Muslims thought was the most valuable were still being traded along the Silk Road.

The Silk Road was once again made important in the 600s CE by the Islamic Umayyad and the Islamic Abbasid Empires in the western part of the Silk Road. In the eastern part of the Silk Road the Chinese rejuvenated the Silk Road in the 900s CE under the Tang and Song Dynasties. While the patterns of trade remained much the same, cultures were diffusing and people interacted more as more nations increased their interaction. The Muslim Empire accepted the use of paper money from the Chinese which the Song Dynasty of China had created in 1023. In the west the European traders also became more involved after they had slowed down trade and they spread their religion of Christianity. The Indians spread Buddhism to the Chinese and the Chinese spread it to the Mongols and others trading along the Silk Road. The Muslims also spread their universalizing religion of Islam to people along the Silk Road. Around 1200-1450 was when the Silk Road was at the top of its game when Mongol rule united two continents and allowed safe passage of trade and ideas by eliminating tariffs known as the Pax Mongolica. Kublai Khan, a Mongol ruler, was given the task of amplifying the networks of the Silk Road. He increased trade with the Delhi Sultanate which was ruled by Turkic and Afghan dynasties in the south and Il-khanate which was a breakaway Mongol state in the southwest. This heavy interaction many many regions and nations allowed diseases to be spread over the Silk Road which lead to a slight decrease in its use. The Bubonic Plague in the 14th century was one of the biggest pandemics ever and made so large by the increased interactions among people along the Silk Road. The Bubonic Plague ended up killing a large amount of people in China and Western Europe the two ends of the Silk Road. When the Mongols fell, the Silk Road slowed down slightly but remained strong for the most part. The Indian Ocean maritime trade network really hurt the Silk Road in the 1400s as new technologies were developed that made seafaring easier. The Age of Exploration in the 15 century began due to the spread of ship-building and navigational technologies to Europe.

From the period of 200 BCE to 1450 CE the Silk Road was very important in connecting Eastern Asia with the West. Over time the Silk Road experienced many changes, but maintained its basis. The constant flow of goods, cultures, diseases, and technology along the Silk Road remained intact, but the amount of interaction among the nations changed.

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