Trade routes became important paths for cultural, commercial, and technological exchanges between civilizations. Traders, merchants, missionaries, soldiers, and nomads from Ancient China, India, Persian Empire, and Mediterranean countries used various roads and seaways to move goods, ideas, and information. Travel on land was slow and unpredictable. Caravans were vulnerable to attack and adverse weather conditions.
During the 1st century BCE, trade routes connecting China to Central Asia and areas surrounding the Mediterranean merged into a single route. The Silk Road, originally named for the vast amounts of silk traded along it, was a significant factor in the development of China, Egypt, Persia, Arabia, and Rome. The goods traded were numerous. From Egypt came silk, paper, glass, jewelry, cosmetics, salt, wine and beer. The Middle East offered woolens, asphalt, carpets, perfumes, bleach, and pain relieving drugs. The Han Dynasty provided silk, wine, laquerware, and grain. And India produced fine cottons, garments, gems, ivory, foods, and pearls. But goods weren’t the only things passed between these civilizations. Scientific, philosophic, intellectual and religious ideas were shared as well. Libraries collected works from far off lands and grew in number. Scientists began to specialize in areas dealing with the human body, plants, animals, astronomy and agriculture.
Roman roads were also vital in the encouragement of trade. Originally developed for easier military transportation, the roads allowed goods to be carried throughout the Roman Empire. Later, Alexander the Great would utilize these roads in his various conquests. It is Alexander that is most credited with the spread of Greek culture both intellectually and through merchant goods
Discuss the utilization of trade routes as a path to cultural diffusion.
-How did those routes impact the great civilizations of the time?
-What were the benefits and detriments of the routes and interaction between the groups?
-What else might we want to consider about this time, location, and people?
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