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How Did the Silk Road Get Its Name?

The Silk Road is the name of the route that connected the East to the West. This made traveling much easier for traders. But you may be wondering how did it get its name?

The Silk Road got its name from the trading of silk between the Chinese and Europeans. Back then, Chinese soil lacked Selenium which made their horses frail. The horses couldn’t carry Chinese soldiers, so they opted to trade better horses with silk.

What is the History Behind the Silk Road?

While we know why the route was called the Silk Road, it wasn’t always called that. The term was only established in 1877 when Ferdinand von Richthofen used it to describe that specific trade route. Today, historians adapted the term as it most accurately reflects its purpose.

The east-west routes started in the first few centuries when the Roman Empire and the Kushan Empire began trading. Thanks to the route, commerce was quickly established. (Source: History)

What Territories Are Part of the Silk Road?

The Silk Road was composed of a vast network of trading posts and markets. These were specifically designed to make the distribution of goods and storage more efficient.

The route extends from Antioch across the Syrian Desert all the way to Ctesiphon and Seleucia on the Tigris River. From there, the trail heads eastward to the Zagros Mountains then to the cities of Iran and Turkmenistan. It then extends further to Afghanistan, Mongolia, and China.

The roads in the route mostly lead to the port of the Persian Gulf. Here, goods are stored until they are shipped off to the Tigris or Euphrates rivers. In turn, these ports were connected to major cities through the Mediterranean Sea. Leading eastern goods to reach all the way to Europe. (Source: History)

What Goods Were Commonly Traded?

The trade between east and west has gone about for centuries. The east’s spices gained popularity in the west and have made it through Europe. Gunpowder also originated from the east and was in high demand back in those times. Historians believed that gunpowder was one of the most in-demand commodities.

But the Europeans were not the only ones benefiting from the trade. Eastern countries learned about glass-making techniques. (Source: History)

How Did the Silk Road Improve Exploration?

Aside from trading, the Silk Road was also the same route used by explorers. This allowed geographers and historians to understand uncharted territories better. In addition, people from the opposite ends of the world were able to learn about other cultures.

A perfect example of this is the story of the Venetian explorer, Marco Polo. He used the silk road to travel to China from Italy. This happened back when China was under the Mongolian Empire. He did not travel by boat like most European explorers. Instead, he made use of camels by following overland routes. Their party arrived at Xanadu and visited the lavish palace of the Mongolian emperor Kublai Khan.

Polo returned to Venice using the same roads in 1295. He based his book The Travels of Marco Polo on his journey on the Silk Road. (Source: History)

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