The Silk Road, known as the ‘Silk Routes’, came from “Seidenstraße” which was put up by the German geographer Ferdinand von Richthofen in the late of 19th century. (Alex Boyce, 2003, para1)Although its original purpose was for the military, the most impressive impact was the communication. It widely interconnected across almost all parts of Asia continent, went to the Mediterranean world, and then extended to North and Northeast Africa and Europe. (Let’s Travel, 2009)It can be divided detailed into three directions and all started from Chang’an (today’s Xi’an in China), the biggest city of Han and Tang to the European capital of Byzantium AD 618 – 906. The northwest route was through the Lanchou, Tun-huang, Hami and ended at the Black Sea; The southwest one was through Miran, Endere, Khotan, Leh Srinagar and ran to the area in today’s Afghanistan, Iran, and India; The longest route and the most important road was the west route which across the Eurasia though the Merv, Hamadan, Palmyra, Antioch etc, at last went straight to Rome. (A Wlker, 1998, P1)The Silk Road was not only the most well-known trading route of ancient Chinese civilization, but also a feat for the world. Silk trading was growing with the development of silk reeling technology under the Western Han Dynasty (202 BC – AD 8).
As the Silk Road was beat out during the Western Han dynasty, the historical record during that time can evident the existence of the road. According to the book thirty-one, commentary Section of Hanshu that recorded the events of Han, the envoy of Wudi (156 BC – 87BC), Chang chhien, was dispatched to ally with the ywati resisting the Huns. The route he travelled through was across major regions of Central Asia and that was the initial Silk Road. Since Han defeated the Huns, as the route was explored and the nomads on the way were managed especially during the Tang Dynasty, trade took off along the road.
From the archaeology’s point of view, the configuration of horses changed. In the grave goods the four limbs of horse were tubby and looked like the cow on some way. Since the time of Wudi, the appearance of horse became vigour with the slimmer legs and stronger body. It can prove that different species of horses were introduced to Han dynasty. Obviously, the excellent specie came from the western nomads. A relief stone called Journey along the Silk Road was founded in 2008. The image shows an encounter between Han caravan and saken knights who lived around the Ili River basin. (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, 2009, paras9)
1992, a memorial stone was founded in the Orkhon valley which was evident to be the gift from Emperor Tang Xuanzong to Ouigour. In addition, the stone was made from marble and that could not be produced in the region. Given the stone came from Chinese inland only, indeed the region exist a road in northern China running through the Hami, Xinjiang and the Mongolian Plateau. (People’s daily, 2003, para6)
Experts ever found the roman coins in India which could be dated during 1st BC to 5th AD. (S. Suresh, 2004, P525) It was evident the trading had existed at the period and that matched the historical archives. As the two countries sited beside the route labeled on the maps of the Silk Road, there is abundant reasons to believe the impacts it made on the communication.
The Silk Road was definitely an important path for cultural, commercial and technological exchange between traders, merchants, pilgrims, missionaries even soldiers. During more than 2000 years, the road improved the transfer from nomads to urban dwellers across the Asian continent even the countries bordering upon Mediterranean. (Let’s Travel, 2009) The emergence of the Silk Road vigorously promoted the East-West economic, cultural exchanges, and contributed to the rise of the Han Dynasty. Further more, that route is a key pathway of Intercourse between East and West, either.
As its name, silk became the symbol of prosperous East Asia as well as china on the Silk Road. Two Chinese products were most in demand in the world market, silk and porcelain. Because of the high price of silk and china introduced to the Constantinople, the western countries had an image of rich China. The raw material, producing process and all the information about the silk were secrets to occidental. The famous Roman scholar, Gaius Plinius Secundus, (23AD-79AD) wrote his conjecture on The Natural History. (Song Lei, 2008, P1) The speculation reflected the knowledge of silk has been accepted at the first century by the Romans and that must flow through Chinese. It prompted the countries strengthened the commercial exchange with China. At the same time, some materials appeared in the Chinese market like European woolens, Egyptian and Syrian linen, as well as the fine cotton came from India. (All the Silkds of China, P328) In this circumstance, the Lapis lazuli from Afghan was brought into Europe and Asia with caravan consistently. It ever stood for the level of wealth in the Mesopotamia nationals. It became one of the seven gemstones of Buddhism since the Lapis lazuli flown into India. An ink box of Han Dynasty which was decorated with Lapis lazuli was discovered in the Jiangsu province, China in 1969. (Yingyan Gong 2008, P4)
The introduce of grapes, walnuts, carrots, pepper, safflowers, spinach (Persian cuisine), cucumber (cucumber) and pomegranate flowed along the Silk Road, which rich the diet choices around the countries; Leather goods, furs, herbs, spices, jewelry appeared in China; Metal such as iron, gold, silver, and crafts like ceramic, mirrors shipped out from China to Europe though West Asia; What should be mentioned was the rare animals like lions, elephants, and gorillas and so on. All these kinds of merchandise exchanges contributed the trade between the Eurasia where is the main centre of culture. In the early of 20th century, the British explorer, Marc Aurel Stein, discovered a colored woolen piece in the Loulan, Xinjiang which was proved to be the product of late Eastern Han Dynasty. (Yingyan Gong 2008, P6) There was a head picture of Hermes presenting as the Greek and Roman style. It proved the trade came up before the Eastern Han. An ancient tomb around 2 AD was founded in 1995 in Yingpan Sites, Xinjiang and more than 400 cultural relics were discovered. The site was situated at a pivot of the Silk Road and what’s more, the relics not only came from Chinese central plain, also produced in Central Asia, West Asia and even the Mediterranean Sea. (Yingyan Gong 2008, P1) That was a convincible evidence for the blending of Chinese-Western culture.
Talked about the most important inventions for the development, the Papermaking must be mentioned. The earliest ephemeral printed matter was introduced to west, “Diamond Sutra” of Tang Dynasty, discovered in Dunhuang. Papermaking was a leading technology in the world at that time. The skill, however, just was known by East Asia and parts of South Asian countries before the emergence of the Silk Road. Archaeologist has found the ancient paper made in 2 century at the Loulan Ruins. There is no evidence of paper industry in the Middle East area although they used paper. That can be an indirect proof of the spread of Chinese paper. The origin of transmission is a cruel battle, Battle of Talas, between Tang Dynasty and the Abbasids. The Arabs took the Chinese prisoners including some papermakers along the Silk Road to the Samarkand which was the second large city of Uzbekistan. The Arabs learned the process of paper making from the Chinese later transmitted that precious knowledge to “westerners”. The first European paper mills appeared in twelfth-century in Spain, and then its spread owned to Italians which didn’t begin to produce paper until the fourteenth century. (Abu-Lughod & Janet L, 323) Eventually, the Papermaking transmitted all over the world.
Westfield is covered with the desert that decided water is the key for prosperity of all the countries. The snowmelt came from Tian Mountains and Kunlun Mountains. However, the collection was tough. Since the emergence of the Silk Road, the Han Dynasty sent troops to develop the agriculture, the Karez Well and Well Water Drainage technologies were transmitted along the route into Central Asia and India, and then accepted by the more distant countries. Shiji which wrote by Sima Qian recorded that Li Guang, general of Han, ever attacked the Ferghana. He tried besieging the fortifications by breaking off the water. The residents of Ferghana resisted a long period inexpertly for acquiring of Well Water Drainage.
Chinese ancient printing is one of the techniques went along the Silk Road. (In the period between the Sui Dynasty in the second half of the 6th century and the Tang Dynasty in the first half of the early 7th century, lithographic printing was invented and, in the 9th century, a large number of books began to be printed by the lithographic process. In the reign of Emperor Qingli of the Northern Song Dynasty (960 A.D.-1127 A.D.), a common fellow named Bi Sheng invented printing by movable type and started to use baked clay types for printing. The technology was introduced to other countries in about the mid-8th century.)The wood plates used in the wood engraving printing and some paper products. The most famous evidence is the remnant of engraving of Diamond Sutra in Tang Dynasty which is still preserved by the UK. During the 13th century, many European travelers traveled along the Silk Road to China and brought the technology of printing back to Europe. Johannes Gutenberg, a German, printed the first Bible with the Typography based on the Chinese printing method in the 15th century. The first printing circumference was born in Italy in 1466 which mean the beginning of printing accepted widely in Europe. (Guwan 2008, para7)
The major influence in the cultures was the inflow into China from other parts of world since the colourful ideologies. The religious beliefs came from west cut in Chinese traditional belief mainly.
Buddhism: As known, Buddhism was born in Kapilavatthu, Hindustan. After the Khotan appeared the Buddhism about 87 BC, that belief went west into Westfield such as Taxkorgan, Kashgar, Aksu, and Kuqa while went northeast to Ruoqiang, Milan, Loulan. All cites above were sited on the Silk Road actually. Buddhism is obviously the most powerful one in this transmit of religion. The earliest records could trace back to the building of White Horse Temple in 68 AD which in order to store the Sutra of Forty-two Chapters. Buddhism has been developed and blossom since then. Buddhism is not the major belief in India today, it still, however impacts on the of Southern Asian and Chinese folkways.
Zoroastrianism: It appeared in the largest empire of the mid-first millennium in the 5th BC to 1st BC. (D Christian, P319) According to historical records, all of the counties in the Western Regions conformed to the belief. As supported by the potentates during 4th century, Zoroastrianism got flourished and was developing in the Tang Dynasty.
Nestorianism: It was the branch of Christianity which was introduced in 635 AD. In the period of Tang Taizong, many Nestorianism temples were built including the Roma Temple and Da Qin Temple in the Chang’an.(Silk Road Travel 2000, para1)
The northwestern silk route existed lots of important archaeological which were clustered around Kucha and the Turfan oasis. There has been discovered architectures like the mural paintings, artifacts in cave monasteries remained from the third to seventh centuries and the blending styles of art shown the close relationship between the northwestern Indian subcontinent, western Central Asia and Iran than with China. (Jason Neelis, Para5)
As a way, the Silk Road was a transport line originally which became a carrier took response to the communication between ethnic groups and nations. The 7000-mile-route spanned China, Central Asia, Northern India, and the Parthian and Roman Empires. In other words, the Silk Road can be seen as a prehistoric internationalization or a microcosm. First, it connected the main empires and main cultures in that time. It connected two of the largest agriculture civilization, Yellow River Valley and the Mediterranean Sea, and passed through places such as Chinese Kansu and Sinkiang and present countries Iran, Iraq and Syria etc. (Trade links across the World, para5) For instance, Han Dynasty, Parthia, Kushan, and Roma even the Tang Dynasty, Sassanid Persia the East Roman Empire afterwards were sited along the route. The Silk Road linked the countries together to make the commercial exchange and culture communication smooth. Second, it established the ties of various beliefs. Buddhism, traveled to China, along the Silk Roads, as well as Manichaeism and Nestorian Christianity. (D Christian, P319) Additionally, the Confucianism born in China was taken to Western regions and then accelerated the urbanization of nomads. (Lunwenwang, 2009, Para24) It introduced a new ideology to Europe which made an indirect effect on the Enlightenment. Third, the Silk Road is also the migration path of Nomadic. The north to that route is Eurasian Steppes which is the origin of the strongest nomadic tribes. Forth, the Silk Road introduced the Western and Oriental to each other and expanded the view to the world. The knowledge was confounded to the continent only before intercommunication and it was being perfected gradually. In a word, the Silk Road concentrates the history of human society and it presents the stages of civilization at that period.