The Great Silk Route: initiation and development
The Great Silk Route
The Great Silk Route — in remote ages the caravan track, connecting the Eastern Asia with the Mediterranean. Basically on this way the silk from China was delivered, this is the reason of behind the name. It was started in II century B.C., run from Sianya via Lunchjou to Dunjuan, where was split off: the northern way passed through Turphan, next crossed Pamirs and was proceeded to Fergana and Kazakh steppes, the southern — beside Lob-Nor lake along the southern suburb Takla-Makan desert via Yarkend and Pamirs (in southern part) run to Baktriya, and then from there — to Parfiya, India and Mid East up to Mediterranean Sea. Such term was introduced by German geographer Rikhtgofen in 1877.
The Great Silk Route length amounted to 12 thousand kilometers. It was initiated on the shore of Yellow Sea and run to Eastern Turkestan, Central Asia, Iran, Mesopotamia, as well as to Mediterranean Sea coast. There were positioned such large and ancient towns and settlements — Sian, Dun-Juan, Yarkend, Samarkand, Tashkent, Bukhara, Merv. From Sogdiana to China were delivered wool fabric, carpets, varied decorations and gems; from Fergana — pedigreed horses; from Badakhshan lapis lazuli was delivered; from India to Central Asia the caravan processions, carried cotton fabric and cotton seeds were passed, from China rice was delivered, and from Central Asia to China — grapes, Persian walnuts, pomegranate fruits as well as other commodities were delivered.
While the Great Silk Routes were changed, one may emphasize two main corridors, connected East and West:
– the southern track – from the north of China via Central Asia to Mid East and Northern India;
– the northern track – from the north of China via Pamir and Aral Sea area to Lower Volga and to the black Sea basin.
Between the southern and northern tracks were available a few connected and transitional routes. In process of time the communication network made ever more, consisted more branch lines. The main routes displaced to that northern, or southern way.
World commerce took up the breadth within Kushan period, that contributed to consolidate the Great Silk Route. Such Route assured political and diplomatic communications formation, as well as assured to expand religions, cultures transfusion and turn around the technological innovations.
In XIII c., soon after the Central Asia capture by Moguls, the Great Silk Route changed slightly its directions. Many of caravans passed by Movarounakhr (i.e.central Asia), run directly to Volga Caspian Sea north, and from there moved to the Black Sea.(by reason, that after Moguls the region was practically destroyed)
Amir Temur, stepped as the governor of Maverannakhr and Khorasan area in 1370, spoke for the Great Silk Route tracks recovery via the territory of the Central Asia (just did the same on Volga, there done Genghis Khan in Maverannakhr, wasted them). And the caravans once more opened the journey via Heart, Balkh and Samarkand. The Great Silk Road main functions came to: commodities exchange, accumulation and expansion of innovations as well as religions (Buddhism, Nestorianism), and certainly to active information sharing, including diplomatic, arranged ambassadorial caravans. For the Central Asia the Great Silk Route became a factor of rabid and efficient growth and development. As well as the role of Central Asia in terms of the Great Silk Route was recognized as a grand: such seemed to make function of memory, and then new for that period technologies were transferred from the Central Asia to other states. The commodities from Central Asia were valued for its fine quality.
The Great Silk Route history — this is the history of cultural cooperation and exchange between the nationals of East and West. It demonstrates, that just the close collaboration and cultures cross-fertilization may represent peace basis as well as progress for the humans.
The Central Asia has never been rent off the main world civilization centers. This region affected the social, economic and cultural development not just the neighboring states (Shumer, Assyriya, Midiya, Iran, India), but held some certain contacts and relations with Transcaucasia, Mediterranean, Volga River basin, as well as with nomadic tribes related to the south of current Russia and Kazakhstan. Since the Akhemenids’ here appeared the Greek settlements, the neighboring states high cultures interconnection was in the process. Such fact enhanced after the Alexander the Great wining. When the political life of Greek states in Central Asia was of a short duration, the Greek and Central Asian cultures integration process promoted the high growth in terms of spiritual and material cultures in the region. Within this period, relations between the Central Asia and Indian cultures as well as Eastern Mediterranean were continued. Near the III c. B.C. were initiated the contacts with China.
Over the period of the Great Silk Road in towns and settlements, where caravan processions were passed, caravansary (hostelries) . Hujiras (lounges) for merchants as well as for service caravan staff, camels placing, lodgments for horses, mules and donkeys, feed and food staffs required were arranged over there. Caravanserai was the place, where one could sell and buy in bulk good-looking for merchant products, and the main – to find out the latest business news, and first of all, quotations fir goods. Khorezm, Sogdiana and Fergana appeared as succeed commercial centers. The Silk Route promoted the need in such Central Asian commodities as, horses and feed crops, as well as grape and cotton were in high demand. In towns craftsmen mastered new types of handicraft: iron items manufacture, was adopted from East, as well as glass items manufacture – from West.
In I c. A.C. in the territory of Central Asia was formed Kushan state, the first governor of that was Kudzula Kadfiz. The state capital, probably, existed the town at the site of Dalvarzintepa, in the valley of Surkhandarya. Within the ruling of Kudzul Kadfiz along the current Uzbekistan and Tajikistan southern areas were included Afghanistan and Kashmir to the structure of Kushan State. In the time ruling of Kanishka (78-123 yy. A.C.) the Kushan state spread its expansion to East: consolidated its domains in India, then the state capital was moved from Baktriya to Peshavar (on the north of India) and turned into the huge empire, occupied the territory from India and Khotan till the south of Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. New towns were under the construction, crafts were developed and commercial contacts with India, China and the Rome were established.
Exactly in Kushan period the world commerce obtained the breadth, promoted to consolidate the Great Silk Route. The trend of the commerce contacts was governed according the following priorities: in the east – with China, where from the Central Asia were delivered wool fabrics, carpets, decorations, Lapis-lazuli and pedigreed horses; from China were delivered silk, iron, nickel, fur, tea, paper, gunpowder; on the south – with India, from there were exported vegetable herbs and fragrances (the route to India was called as “tight pass” because of the narrow, impended on huge height, copestones in mountains); on the west – via Iran with Syria and Rome, where the Chinese silk was worth its weight in gold ; on the north- via Khorezm with Eastern Europe.
The main route was run via Dunkhuan, Khami, Turfan, Kashgar, Uzgen, Osh, Kuva, Andijan, Kokand, Samarkand, Bukhara and Merv. In Merv (the existing town Mary in Turkmenistan) the Great Silk Route was split off. The one branch run via Khorezm to Volga, to Eastern Europe. Thus, the commodities from China, India, Central Asia reached Rus: Kiev, Novgorod, and later on Moscow. In Moscow market place was proposed the special, so-called, «Indian» strip mall, where merchandised mainly eastern, Indian negotiators. The other branch run via Balkh and the lands of the current Afghanistan to India. The third one- run to Baghdad and next to Mediterranean Sea. Here the commodities reloaded to boats and reached Egypt, Eastern Roman Empire, Italy.
As well as so-called «silver» route was existed, where passed caravan processions carried the Central Asian silver to the states, where silver was in short supply: via Khazar Kaganate, Bulgarian State- to Kievan Russia as well as to Europe states.
The Great Silk Route Caucasian branches
From the Iranian-Byzantine wars near the VI century along the territory of Northern Caucasus was constructed the Great Silk Route track. Such occurred from the effort to disrupt the commercial relations of Eastern Roman Empire through the merchants high duty imposition. On the back of that the caravan processions from China and Central Asia moved by-passing Iran. They started to round the Caspian Sea not from the South, but from the north— moved via Northern Caspian Sea Region to Northern Caucasus. Therefore there were appeared the two Great Silk Route branches in Caucasus— Misymianskiy and Darinskiy routes.