The Great Silk Road


The Great Silk Road is one of the main stages in the development of human civilization. After the discovery and overcoming of the mountain passes of the great mountain systems of the Tien Shan and Pamir, which stood between the West and the East, the Silk Road became the main regular continental communication and trade artery in the world.

From the beginning of the first millennium to the end of the Middle Ages, the Great Silk Road became a regular route and passed through the cities of Central Asia.

The Great Silk Road is a caravan trade road that has existed since the middle of the II-nd century BC. and until the XV-th century A.D. This system of caravan routes of more than seven thousand kilometers connected East Asia and the Mediterranean. These caravan routes were used to export silk from China. It went from Xian through Lanzhou to Dunhuang. Farther, the path didived into northern and southern roads. The northern road went through Turpan, Pamir, Ferghana and the Kazakh steppes. The southern road passed Lake Lob-Nor along the southern side of the Takla-Makan desert, crossing Yarkend and the Pamir to Bactria. Next, the southern road led to Parthia, India, the Middle East to the Mediterranean Sea. The name "Great Silk Road" was introduced in 1877 by the German geographer Ferdinand von Richthofen. Silk, invented in China, was the main subject of trade, and it determined the name of the road.

The conquests of Alexander of Macedon created the perspectives for establishing trade relations, as they greatly expanded the knowledge of the West and the East about each other. China began to export silk, and imported jade and jadeite from the mines of Khotan and Yarkend, and then thoroughbred Arabian horses.

Initially, the Great Silk Road included the "lapis lazuli road", the "jade road", the "sable road", and in the middle of the I-st millennium BC. e. a “steppe path” appeared, along which silk was exported by Western countries.

Political stability was needed throughout the Great Silk Road to ensure its functioning. This could ensure either the creation of a huge empire that would control all the most important Eurasian caravan routes, or the division of control over it among the major powers, which could establish safe trade. At the end of the VI-th century the Great Silk Road was almost entirely controlled by the Turkic Kaganate, at the end of the XIII-th century - the empire of Genghis Khan, and at the end of the XIV-th century - empire of Timur. But there still was a separation of control between several countries.

The development of merchant shipping off the Middle East coast, South and Southeast Asia led to the decline of the Great Silk. In the XIV-XV centuries, the sea route from the Persian Gulf to China lasted about 150 days and was safer, unlike the caravan, which went from Azov to Beijing and took about 300 days. The amount of cargo carried by the bottom of the ship was equal to the amount of cargo carried by a large caravan of thousands of pack animals. Only certain parts of the Silk Road Already functioned for a long time in the XVI century.

Light silk exported from China was in demand in Europe. Silk things were for Europeans salvation from lice. Porcelain and tea were also exported from China. From the Middle East and Central Asian countries - woolen and cotton fabrics. From South and Southeast Asia to Europe - spices: pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves. Europeans used spices for the preparation and preservation of products, as well as for medicinal purposes. Paper made by technology from China and Central Asia took the place of parchment and papyrus.

The role of the Great Silk Road is also huge in the development of geographical knowledge. Europeans and Chinese for the first time learned about each other's existence only thanks to the Silk Road. More accurate information about Eurasia and various countries of the East appeared in Western Europe only at the end of the XIII-th beginning of the XIV-th centuries. One of those who managed to pass this caravan road was the merchant and traveler Marco Polo, who wrote the famous book about his journey in Asia, “The Book on the Diversity of the World”.

The Great Silk Road contributed to the development of science, art, architecture, culture, music and dance, world religions - Buddhism and Islam from the East, Christianity - from the West.