The Silk Road

The Silk Road was formed between 2000 AD~1000 AD and had since then been kept in use as the main channel for cultural, economic and political exchange between the eastern and the western worlds all the way until the 16th century.1 The main track of the Silk Road was initially formed by Qian Zhang, who was sent out to the western region by Emperor Wu during the Han Dynasty for diplomatic purposes.2 The road has two starting points: the capital of the Western Han dynasty, Changan, and Luoyang, the capital of the then East Han Dynasty, and leads all the way to Dunhuang crossing through Hexi Corridor. The Silk Road divides into two paths from Hexi Corridor, with one of them leading northward and the other southward. The one extending southward goes through Loulan, Yutan.Shache and finally leads to Dayueshi, Anxi.3 It also extends westward to Datiaozhi,Daqing. The one leading northward, on the other hand, starts from Dunhuang and extends souhtward to Jiaohe, Guici, Shule, Conglin and finally ends in Dayuan. Westward, the northward path leads to Anxi, Daqin at last.

The Chinese trade caravan exported metals such as iron, gold, silver, mirror and other luxurious items such as silk, china and imported rare birds and animal products, plants, fur, medicines and spices from the West via the Silk Road. The original purpose of the Silk Road was to transport Chinese-produced silk out the West, the German geographer Ferdinand Freiherr von Richthonfen also wrote as early as in the 1870s in a book that it was China that paved the way and started the trading of silk with other regions and countries such as southern and western India, hence the birth of the name “silk road”.4

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Image source:http://www.travel-silkroad.com/chinese/lishizhong/lishi/sczl/image/silkroadmap01.jpg

This article is written by LiuYuan.

  1. Elisseeff, Vadime (2001). The Silk Roads: Highways of Culture and Commerce. UNESCO Publishing / Berghahn Books. ISBN 978-92-3-103652-1. []
  2. Boulnois, Luce (2005). Silk Road: Monks, Warriors & Merchants. Hong Kong: Odyssey Books. p. 66. []
  3. Silk Road, North China, C.Michael Hogan, the Megalithic Portal, ed. A. Burnham []
  4. Waugh, Daniel. (2007). “Richthofen’s “Silk Roads”: Toward the Archaeology of a Concept.” The Silk Road. Volume 5, Number 1, Summer 2007, pp. 4 []

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