The Silk Road Essay

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     The four hundred years between the collapse of the Han dynasty (206 B.C.E.- C.E. 220) and the establishment of the Tang dynasty (618-906) mark a division in the history of China. During this period, foreign invasion, transcontinental trade, and missionary ambition opened the region to an unprecedented wealth of foreign cultural influences. These influences were both secular and sacred. Nomads, merchants, emissaries and missionaries flooded into China, bringing new customs, providing exotic wares, and generating new religious beliefs. Foremost among these beliefs was Buddhism, born in India, but which now took root in China. These new influences entered China by a vast network of overland routes, popularly …show more content…
The many possible routes were numerous and complex, and the dangers of the journey were perilous. The zone of this broad belt of oasis punctuated deserts extended across Central Asia from northwestern China to the Caspian and Black Seas, and on to the Middle East. The zone was bounded on the north and south by mountains, but could be traversed with only a few mountain ranges to cross along the way. Features of the landscape included a high, dry terrain, infrequent and irregular water supplies, and absent or scarce food for the caravan animals. What made trade possible at all, besides the techniques of caravan travel and the expertise of the local caravaneers, was the existence of substantial oases across Central Asia. These islands of greenery, watered by rivers and springs, ranged in extent from a few square miles to hundreds of square miles, but even the largest were isolated by huge expanses of surrounding deserts. Much of the Middle East is desert, traversed by caravan routes linking scattered oasis cities, much as is the case along the Silk Road further east. Silk Road traffic coming from Central Asia passed through the Middle East along many different routes and with many different destinations; the Middle East was, in a sense, an end-point for the Silk Road, but perhaps more importantly a trans-shipment zone.
     The Silk Road itself was pioneered sometime during the mid-first

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