Continuities Changes Over Time Essay (Silk Road Interactions Between 200 B.C.E – 1450 C.E.)
During the period of time between 200 B.C.E. and 1450 C.E., the silk road underwent many subtle transformations while at the same time holding on to its original purpose. The trade of spices and goods to and from Asia and Europe remained constant, while the materials bartered slowly changed. The political boundaries as well as the national identities of the encompassing countries also were altered.
Despite changes in materials, the original purpose of the silk road remained intact throughout this time period. Asian commodities were traded with European merchants along the road and vice versa. Asia’s economy, such as that of China specifically, remained heavily reliant on the money from silk road trade, irregardless of the origin or type of goods that fueled such. Comparably, Europe’s economic status remained fueled by Asian trades.
While the basic purpose of the silk road remained mostly unchanged, the goods traded on it and the areas it went through did.
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While the silk road originally began on a small scale as a simple route of transport for Eurasian merchants, it later grew into an international necessity, not only economically, but culturally as well. Once exposed to Asian spices, fabrics, etc., Europeans became increasingly “addicted” to their newfound luxuries. This, in addition to Europe having the same effect on Asia, gradually shaped both cultures. Because of the numerous political changes that took place during this expanse of time, the route travelled by silk road merchants passed through new nations formed at the collapse of the Roman Empire. This, in turn, shaped the identities of additional nations/cultures along the path of the silk road.
Overall, the silk road’s basic purpose remained intact from 200 B.C.E. to 1450 C.E., but the specific patterns of interactions that occurred along it did not. Empires fell, new nations were formed, and that brought myriad changes to silk road cultures and the interactions between those that traveled on it.