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SILK ROAD - Essay Example

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Look into this question by reading David Christian’s “Silk Road or Steppe Roads” and Robert Taafe’s “The geographic setting”.
The relationship between human demography, geography, and climate reveals…
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SILK ROAD
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The Silk Road a) How did ecological factors stimulate trade along the Silk Road? Look into this question by reading David Christian’s “Silk Road or Steppe Roads” and Robert Taafe’s “The geographic setting”.
The relationship between human demography, geography, and climate reveals the influence of ecological factors in the development of culture, facilitating the study of the active interactions between ecological forces and human beings, and the identification of the causes of the stimulation of cultural exchanges and material trade along the Silk Road. According to David Christian, the trans-ecological exchanges made possible by the Silk Road routes contributed greatly to the growth of trade within the Afro-Eurasian region, specifically, trade between the region’s agrarian communities, steppe pastoralists, and woodland foragers.
The natural features of the Silk Road indicate that ecological factors have played a great role in intensifying trade along the Silk Road. For one, the Silk Roads cross the borders of desert areas or barren steppes inhabited by pastoralists. These kinds of ecological borders create the necessity for trade because the essential goods needed by the people living on very different environments are also different. In fact, given these ecological factors, it would be astonishing if trade did not flourish along the Silk Road. The products traded along the Silk Road routes prove how dynamic trade was in the Afro-Eurasian region. Many of the products traded came from the woodland or steppeland, whilst several of the products made by the agrarian communities were sold to the steppes.
David Christian emphasises that the Silk Roads naturally are sea and land routes connecting east and west, particularly, connecting the agricultural communities of inner Asia and functioning as channels transporting products, ideas, religion, and even diseases. Moreover, Christian views Steppe Roads, which connect the Eurasian agricultural and grassland areas, as trade routes, stimulated by a natural commercial barter of goods from pastoral and agricultural regions. Trade products were perhaps bartered most intensely across the ecological boundary dividing agrarian and pastoral areas, although a number of products certainly crossed the steppes.
b) How would you evaluate the Chinese impact on the Silk Road and on the trade along the Silk Road? Please refer to Xinru Liu’s chapter 1 “China looks West” and on material trade.
The Silk Road linking China and the Middle East cultivated trade of agricultural products, specially made goods, ideas, and religious beliefs. But because of the dynamic evolution of civilisations in China, the Silk Road ceased to be merely a connecting link between cultures; it became a social system. The rise of dynasties and growth of territories in China tempted traders to explore other possible trade routes for valuable products. Most of the time, the patrons were rich families and individuals. For instance, the stronger defence system for the Great Wall established by the Han dynasty attracted a large number of foreign traders to the Great Wall. This occurrence led to the flow of a larger number of extraordinary products, like woollen textiles, spices, Indian cotton fabric, and Roman glassware. However, material products were not the only items traded along the Silk Road. Because of China’s exploits, knowledge about foreign coinage system, clothing, foods, and climate became more available.
However, the impact of China on trade along the Silk Road was most evident during the Han Dynasty. Emperor Wu greatly desired knowledge about the territories west of China, and so he commissioned one of his generals to go to these places. The general saw superb horses in the kingdoms he visited. The emperor wanted strong horses and so he raided the kingdoms. Silk merchants used the route the emperor had created and this route was eventually called the Silk Road. Vigorous trade began. Goods from the West, like perfume, glass, and gems flowed into China and other parts of inner Asia. Knowledge and invention were also exchanged along the Silk Road routes. The Chinese adopted Buddhism from India; the West found out the secret of making paper and agricultural equipment. This vigorous trade between the East and the West continued until the 14th century. Read More
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