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Silk Road History

In the 15th B.C. Century, silk isn't the major trading commodity in the early stage, Chinese merchants brought Hetian jades from Xinjiang, and sold seashells and other specialities to people in Xinjiang. With the open up of Hexi Corridor, there were some small countries like Shanshan and Gucci appearing in this period in Western Region, stimulating trading and cultural communication between China and Western Region, and China was called as "Seres" by them. With the domestication of effective dromedary and horses both increasing the ability for people to carry heavy goods over a long distance, culture communication and trade developed rapidly, merchants traveled from shores of the Pacific Ocean to Africa and then into Europe. In predynastic Egypt, ships were built well in the 14th B.C. Century. The Egyptian began to trade with people from North Africa, Mediterranean Sea and Western Asia.

Zhang Qian, a Western Han diplomat and envoy, first went into Western Region, and the Silk Road was formally inaugurated as China's national road, he and his men set out from Chang'an and reached Loulan (Roujiang now), Yuli, Quick (Kulanow) and Yutan (Hotan now), then to Dayuan, Kanju (now in Xinjiang and Central Asia), and the envoys from above countries visited China as well. In 73 A.D., Ban Chao took on a mission to the Western Region with 36 men, smoothing the Silk Road that had been blocked by external wars. His assistant Gan Ying reached Daqin (ancient Rome) and even went to Persian Gulf, deepening the Silk Road. What is more, Western Han Emperor sent officials to keep the Silk Road smooth and prosperous. In 30 B.C. the Romans conquered Egypt, they began to explore the Silk Road and had a passion for silk products, so the price of silk was higher than gold at that time. With the prosperity of Tang Dynasty, the government paid more attention to the Silk Road, rebuilding Yumen Pass, and re-opening the passes along the Silk Road in order to enhance control over Western Region. Unlike the Silk Road in Western Han Dynasty, Tang Dynasty had control over some areas of Western Region and Central Asia along the road, establishing effective and sturdy orders, which cleared obstacles for Chinese businessmen. At that time, silk, ironware, bamboo products and smelting skills were passed down to India, Greece and Rome, and in turn, pomegranates, walnuts and grapes from Western Region were carried back to China as well as lions, camels and horses. Just as documents say: the palace in Tang Dynasty is filled with pearls, rhino horns and peacock feathers, and the officials’ stables were filled with horses and elephants every year. However, accidents will happen, after inside war in Tang Dynasty, the empire fell down. Tubo, an ancient nationality in ancient China, invaded most of Western Region and there were wars year after year in China, the volume of silk and porcelains became less and less, and the economic center was transferred to the south part of China, providing a great opportunity for Maritime Silk Routine.

After Mongolia's conquer, Yuan Dynasty destroyed toll gates along the Silk Road, making the road smoother than ever, what's more, the governor appointed foreigners as officials, most of whom were Christians. As history rolls, most of the small countries were no longer existed, and the Silk Road was taken place by an international railway as long as 10900 kms, beginning with LianYungang in the east of China and ending with Rotterdam in Netherlands.

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