Continuity and Change-over-Time

1 January 2017

The Silk Road is a trading route on the continent of Eurasia that stretches from the vast coast of China all the way to Eastern Europe. The trade route was at its greatest use from 200 B. C. E. to 1450 C. E. The society that began the Silk Road was the Han Dynasty in China in approximately 200 B. C. E. The Han Dynasty facilitated trade in the east, while the Roman Empire facilitated trade in the west and in Europe. The two empires traded many goods, as well as cultural aspects of each society’s way of life.

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From 200 B.C. E. to 1450 C. E. , the Silk Road changed in terms of trade, such as what items were traded, and contact with civilizations, such as what societies made use of the Silk Road. Although these changes affected the efficiency of trade and goods, the route of the Silk Road was able to remain the same over time. Many goods were traded on the Silk Road throughout its history. In its early history, the goods traded on the Silk Road were mainly items made from silk; therefore, it was given the name, the Silk Road.

Eventually, goods such as hemp, spices, and slaves began being traded on the Silk Road. Animals were also being traded on the route, animals would be imported from the Swahili Coast of Africa to the Middle East, and they would then be traded along the Silk Road. Later on, expensive goods from China became more in demand by the Europeans. These increases in demand led to larger factories being built in China and an expansion of the Chinese economy.

While under the rule of the Ming Dynasty, China began producing and trading white dishes decorated with blue artwork called porcelain. Porcelain is sometimes referred to today as “China”. The goods that were traded along the Silk Road changed over time as trade expanded and different societies either collapsed or grew around the trade route. Many societies used the Silk Road from 200 B. C. E. to 1450 C. E. , in the early years of the trade route; the two major civilizations to use it were the Han Dynasty and the Roman Empire.

Even after the decline of the two empires, trade still continued throughout Eurasia. Trade between the East and the West continued despite the constant conflict among the people of the former Han and Roman Empires. One society that helped continue the Silk Road trade was the Byzantine or Eastern Roman Empire near Asia Minor. The Byzantine Empire, along with other dynasties in China, led to the expansion of trade throughout the continents of Europe and Asia. Other civilizations in Asia and the Middle East also began trading on the Silk Road.

These civilizations included: India, Egypt, southern Russia, the Middle East, and Mongolia. In China, the Tang and Song Dynasties helped facilitate and expand trade on the Silk Road in the East. During the 13th and 14th centuries, a large nomadic group called the Mongols dominated Asia, the Middle East, Russia, and portions of Eastern Europe. Under the unification of the Mongols, trade on the Silk Road continued to be active. When the Ming Dynasty took over control of China from the Mongols in 1368, porcelain began to be trade on the Silk Road.

The fall of the Mongols in Asia opened trade to other places in the known world, such as Mongolia, and southern Russia. Over time, the societies controlling trade along the Silk Road changed as empires either rose to power, or declined then collapsed. Although the goods traded and the societies that facilitated trade changed over the course of approximately 650 years, the basic land route of the Silk Road remained the same throughout this time. This was because, when new societies took control of the trade route, they did not alter the course of the Silk Road.

When the Silk Road first reached its height in activity, the route began in China, passed through northern India, into Persia and the Middle East, and then ended in Asia Minor and the Mediterranean region of Europe and northern Africa. After the collapse of the Roman and Han Empires, the Silk Road remained on the same course. It continued to be the same throughout the times of the Byzantine Empire, the Islamic empires, and while under control of the Mongols. Despite the rise and fall of empires, dynasties, and other societies; the course of the Silk Road remained the same over time.

The Silk Road from 200 B. C. E. to 1450 C. E. retained the same course over time, even though different civilizations used it in different areas over the course of about 650 years. The goods that were traded on the Silk Road also changed over time. Goods such as silk, porcelain, clothing, food, and weapons were traded along the Silk Road for hundreds of years. Even after being controlled by several empires, invaders, and societies; the Silk Road was never destroyed. It lasted, flourished, and provided goods for civilizations throughout Europe and Asia.

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