history meme: 03/08 objects or places | the Silk Road
The Silk Road is a historical network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa. The road, a series of caravan routes with trading posts and oases, extended almost 7000 miles from Rome and Syria to the Yellow River, in China, and lasted from about the Han Dynasty in the 2nd century B.C. to the 15th A.D.
Traders exchanged such items as silk, which was especially important to the Romans, ceramics, glass, precious metals, ivory, gems, medical herbs, exotic animals, and livestock on the Silk Road. Inadvertently, the Silk Road transmitted language, disease, and genes. Alliances were forged to fight against common enemies. Buddhism made use of the Silk Road in its spread to Central Asia and China. Manichaeism and Islam also spread along the routes.
Free exchange along the Silk Road persisted well through the 15th century, when the rise of Islamic empires began to constrict trade. Foreign relations breakdowns also compromised the security of the route, as nations began to vie for supremacy in regions like the Middle East, making it difficult to transport goods along the Silk Road. The development of alternative trading routes by sea became a pressing concern, leading to the discovery of the Americas and extensive shipping routes along the way. [more]