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Crash Course History Overview of the Silk Road

What was it?

The Silk Road was used as a vast network of trading routes which connected the East to the West: Constantinople in Europe to Chang’an in Asia. It was the center of the cultural, economic, political, and religious interactions between various Eurasian regions from the 2nd century BCE to the 18th century. 

This trading network went along the northern borders of China, India, and Persia and ended up in Eastern Europe near today's Turkey and the Mediterranean Sea. Along the Silk Road were luxury items such as teas, salt, sugar, porcelain, spices, cotton, ivory, wool, beads, gold, and silver. These goods were transported by the Bactrian camel along these land-based routes. Constantinople and Timbuktu were strong trading centers along the Silk Road routes and these empires along with other trading empires were strengthened politically and economically due to them.

Why was it important? 🌍

The Silk Road was not a singular road. Instead, it was several different networks of pathways. 

This trading route's importance stems from the fact that travelers along the Silk Road diffused their cultures, ideas, and beliefs. Religions spread across the Silk Road as missionaries were able to spread Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Zoroastrianism.

Additionally, the Silk Road was important because it encouraged large empires and commercial neutrality, which in turn, helped these empires. The Silk Road was used by the Mongols during the 3rd century CE since it provided a safer route throughout their empire and aided them in maintaining control. This trading network was incredibly safe and popular during the Pax Mongolica, as it was defended and guarded by the Mongols to ensure travelers safety. Another similar period was during the Pax Romana. 

However, the Silk Road not only marked its importance through the trade of culture and items. It also was markedly important due to disease. The Silk Road facilitated the spread of the Bubonic Plague from Asia to Europe during the mid 14th century and cost countless lives. 

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