A Travellerspoint blog

Ancient Whispers From The Silk Road

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya, The Silk Road. What images come to mind when you read these words? I've always been a big Silk Road fan and when I either hear or read these words instantly images of camel caravans winding their way through huge mountains and across scorching deserts come to mind. Besides smelly camels, barely habitable and isolated lands and heat I think mainly of the beautiful colours of the spices and the fabrics that were once transported. Of course there was much more than these two things being transported but for me they are always the two things that come to mind. I then think of the merchants and the pilgrims stringing their way along the thread of oasis towns until they reach their destination, some to disembark and others to continue their journey towards the next oasis town.. Between these oasis towns images of military garrisons and tombs then spring forth. The last thing that comes to my mind is probably the first thing that one should think of when they hear the words the 'Silk Road' and that is 'information.' We now have the internet, prior to the internet was television, prior to television were phones, prior to phones there was snail mail, prior to snail mail.....um.....go and ask your parents or grandparents as it all gets a bit obscure for me around about there. I remember black and white television, writing letters by hand and putting on a record or single! Anyhow, somewhere between us dropping from the trees and leaving the forests to farm the land, store things in jars for the future, build pyramids and me putting on a record (be it the Beatles or KISS) there was the worlds first internet that was actually played out in person and this of course made it the worlds first information superhighway. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Silk Road! I spent the weekend in Xian City with lovely Luo Wei and on Saturday while she was resting after a long week at work I took myself on a walking adventure that began at the Drum Tower, through the Muslim Quarter and then outside the cities ancient walls. It ended where the Original Silk Road actually began or for some ended. I wasn't expecting much when I got there nor did I find much other than a large statue of a camel caravan covered by children of all ages. But for me it was like visiting Egypt and going to the pyramids, it was just one of those places that to actually visit is like a huge tick on the even larger 'to visit before I die' list. Imagine the stories that area could tell if it could speak! Or maybe mime, use sign language, write emails or even create its own home page. Maybe it does tell stories of ancient dangers, romances and smelly camels if we where to sit and listen to the near silence. Maybe if we sat long enough we could hear its whispers floating on the breeze. Sadly for me I am in China and it is never near silent here. Also I had been listening to Machine Head Live on my MP3 so by the time I arrived I could barely hear the children who were climbing all over the huge statue and if you have never been to China and heard how loud a group of Chinese children can be, they could easily out do a Slayer or Machine Head crowd who have been impatiently waiting to enter the hall for several hours. And that's after too many beers! Below can be found some information I found on Wikipedia on the Silk Road. I've added just under half of what I have put together because I want to save the rest for my adventure way west to Kashgar maybe next summer. But then again, maybe the 2009 Summer Beers N Noodles Adventure will find me along the east coast. Luo Wei has never seen Big Water before so it would be a trip to take here to the coast. Plus I haven't seen Big Water for four years now and being an Australian that's like living without Home and Away, beers, bbq's, rock N roll and bloody gum trees! Beers N Noodles toya.....shane PS: The photos can be found beneath all text like usual.

If you're not a Silk Road fan the first three paragraphs will be enough BUT it really is worth taking the time to read the rest because the Silk Road and the exchange between the East and West along with its huge profits has affected much of the history of the world during these last three millennia. Need I say more...now please, continue. ___________________________________________ The soundtrack to this entry was by SOD The album was 'Bigger Than The Devil' ___________________________________________ The Silk Road extending from Southern Europe through Arabia, Somalia, Egypt, Persia, India and Java until it reaches China.The Silk Road is an extensive interconnected network of trade routes across the Asian continent connecting East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean world, including North Africa and Europe. The Silk Road was not only a conduit for silk, but also for many other products. They were very important paths for cultural and technological transmission by linking traders, merchants, pilgrims, missionaries, soldiers, nomads and urban dwellers between China, India, Persia and Mediterranean countries for over two thousand years. Extending over 5,000 miles, the routes enabled people to transport trade goods, especially luxuries such as silk, satins, and other fine fabrics, musk, other perfumes, spices, and medicines, jewels, glassware and even rhubarb, while simultaneously serving as a conduit for the spread of knowledge, ideas, cultures, and diseases between different parts of the world in China, India, Asia Minor and the Mediterranean. Trade on the Silk Road was a significant factor in the development of the great civilizations of China, India, Egypt, Persia, Arabia, and Rome, and in several respects helped lay the foundations for the modern world. Although the term the Silk Road implies a continuous journey, very few who traveled the route traversed it from end to end. For the most part, goods were transported by a series of agents on varying routes and were traded in the bustling mercantile markets of the oasis towns. The Central Asian part of the trade route was expanded around 114 B.C. by the Han Dynasty, largely through the missions and explorations of Zhang Qian as earlier trade across the continents had already existed. In the late Middle Ages, transcontinental trade over the land routes of the Silk Road declined as sea trade increased. As it extends westwards from the ancient commercial centers of China, the continental Silk Road divides into the northern and southern routes bypassing the Taklamakan Desert and Lop Nur. The northern route, which is the original Silk Road, starts at Chang'an (now called Xi'an)</b>, the capital of the ancient Chinese Empire at the time when Han Wudi (one of the greatest emperors in China's history) ended the harassment by nomadic tribes in about 1st Century BC. The northern route travels northwest through the Chinese province of Gansu from Xian City in Shaanxi Province, and splits into three further routes, two of them following the mountain ranges to the north and south of the Taklamakan Desert to rejoin at Kashgar; and the other going north of the Tian Shan mountains through Turfan, Talgar and Almaty (in what is now southeast Kazakhstan). The routes split west of Kashgar with one branch heading down the Alai Valley towards Termez and Balkh, while the other traveled through Kokand in the Fergana Valley, and then west across the Karakum Desert towards Merv, joining the southern route briefly. One of the branch routes turned northwest to the north of the Aral and Caspian seas then and on to the Black Sea. The "Silk Road" essentially came into being from the 1st century BCE, following these efforts by Uyghurs in East Turkestan to consolidate a road to the Western world and India, both through direct settlements in the area of the Tarim Basin and diplomatic relations with the countries of the Dayuan, Parthians and Bactrians further west. The heyday of the Silk Road corresponds, on its west end, to the Byzantine Empire, Sassanid Empire Period to Il Khanate Period in the Nile-Oxus section and Three Kingdoms to Yuan Dynasty in the Sinitic zone in its east end. Trade between East and West also developed on the sea, between Alexandria in Egypt and Guangzhou in China, fostering across the Indian Ocean. The Silk Road represents an early phenomenon of political and cultural integration due to inter-regional trade.

In its heyday, the Silk Road sustained an international culture that strung together groups as diverse as the Magyars, Armenians, and Chinese. With the disintegration of the Mongol Empire also came discontinuation of the Silk Road's political, cultural and economic unity. Turkmeni marching lords seized the western part of the Silk Road - the decaying Byzantine Empire. After the Mongol Empire, the great political powers along the Silk Road became economically and culturally separated. Accompanying the crystallization of regional states was the decline of nomad power, partly due to the devastation of the Black Death and partly due to the encroachment of sedentary civilizations equipped with gunpowder. The effect of gunpowder and early modernity on Europe was the integration of territorial states and increasing mercantilism; whereas on the Silk Road, gunpowder and early modernity had the opposite impact: the level of integration of the Mongol Empire could not be maintained, and trade declined (though partly due to an increase in European maritime exchanges). The Silk Road stopped serving as a shipping route for silk around 1400. The last available link on the Silk Road was completed in 1990, when the railway systems of China and Kazakhstan connected in Alataw Pass (Alashan Kou). Currently, the line is used by direct passenger service from Urumqi in China's Xinjiang to Almaty and Astana in Kazakhstan.

The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road

The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road


The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road

The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road


The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road

The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road


The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road

The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road


The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road

The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road


The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road

The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road


The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road

The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road


The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road

The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road


The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road

The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road


The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road

The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road


The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road

The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road


The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road

The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road


The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road

The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road


The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road

The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road


The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road

The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road


The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road

The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road


The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road

The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road


The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road

The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road


The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road

The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road


The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road

The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road


The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road

The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road


The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road

The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road


The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road

The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road


The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road

The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road


The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road

The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road


The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road

The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road


The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road

The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road


The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road

The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road


The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road

The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road


The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road

The Beginnings of the Ancient Silk Road

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Be the first to comment on this entry.

Comments on this blog entry are now closed to non-Travellerspoint members. You can still leave a comment if you are a member of Travellerspoint.

Login