250 Word Essay
One of the most important aspects of ancient Chinese history is the formation of the Silk Road, a trade route which spanned two continents and put China on the map as one of the most important import/export countries in the ancient world. It’s beginnings were smaller in scale as it only encompassed the Chinese Empire itself but it became apparent, after Zhang Qian made contact with Central Asian tribes, that the expansion the trade route would benefit both China and other Asian nations. It continued to expand under the Han dynasty and into Roman times (Beauty).
One of the most important reasons for its formation as a major trade route was fear of marauding gangs that were eager to obtain the many goods that Chinese merchants filled their caravans with: silk, gemstones, incense, spices, and blue and white porcelain were just some fo the cargo traveled along the Silk Road. The Chinese army was even beefed up in order to protect this special route that helped to keep China’s economy booming. It’s reach expanded throughout China and Asia and eventually commerce was developed between the Roman Empire and China (Newton).
The long-term impact of the Silk Road on Chinese culture and history were that it literally brought a strong economy to China, and brought the goods and customs of other cultures into its borders. The traders, including Zhang Qian in 138 B.C.E., were able to learn economic, military, and geographical information that would help in the roads expansion and with Chinese military success. The Silk Road was so important to the culture of both the Eastern and Western world because during Roman times, even the lower socioeconomic classes depended upon the goods that were imported from China on the Silk Road, and even the religion of Buddhism was spread by way of the Silk Road. Its impact on the world was huge and its impact on Chinese culture even more prominent (Newton).
“The Silk Road.” Beauty, the Land of China. ThinkQuest. 19 Jan. 2007
“The Silk Road.” Newton Public Schools. 19 Jan. 2007
100 Word Assignment
One of the most surprising aspects of my research about the Silk Road was the vast expanse of space which is encompassed. It’s amazing how far the caravans had to travel and how large they were. From all accounts the Silk Road was dangerous to those traveling it because of the terrain and yet it was such an integral part of Chinese history and lasted for many years, even expanding. The images of the Silk Road that I could find reminded me the regal images of Chinese royalty, for some reason.
It’s as if everyone is perceived as being clothed in silk from head to toe, even the camels! I definitely see how difficult the trip must have been because of the limited means of transportation that the merchants had access to, and how they could easily become victims of a raid for their goods. I also thought that it was interesting that Buddhism itself was virtually spread by way of the Silk Road. I was surprised to see that the Silk Road is being revitalized for tourism purposes and that there are many tour groups that specialize in trips just along the route that used to be traveled by Chinese merchants in ancient times.