1. The Silk Road is neither an actual road nor a single route. The term instead refers to a network of routes used by traders for more than 1,500 years, from when the Han dynasty of China opened trade in 130 B.C.E until 1453 C.E, when the Ottoman Empire closed off trade with the West. German geographer and traveler Ferninand von Richthofen first used the term “silk road” in 1877 C.E to describe the well- traveled pathway of goods between Europe and East Asia. The term also serves as a metaphor for the exchange of goods and ideas between diverse cultures. Although the trade network is commonly referred to as the Silk Road, some historians favor the term Slik Routes because it better reflects the many paths taken by traders.An abundance of goods traveled along the Silk Road. Merchants carried silk from China to Europe, where it dressed royalty and wealthy patrons. Other favorite commodities from Asia included jade and other precious stones, porcelain, tea, and spices. In exchange, horses, glassware, textiles, and manufactured goods traveled eastward. One of the most famous travelers of the Silk Road was Marco Polo (1254 C.E – 1324 C.E). Born into a family of wealthy merchants in Venice, Italy, Marco traveled with his father to China (then Cathay) when he was just 17 years of age. They traveled for over three years before arriving at Kublai Khan’s palace at Xanadu in 1275 C.E. Marco stayed on at Khan’s court and was sent on missions to parts of Asia never before visited by Europeans. Upon his return, Marco Polo wrote about his adventures, making him- and the routes he traveled- famous. Religion and ideas spread alomg the Silk Road just as fluidly as goods. Towns along the route grew into muticulture cities. The exchange of information gave rise to new technologies and innovations that would change the world. The horses introduced to Chhina contributed to the might of the Mongol Empire, while gunpowder fron China changed the very nature of war in Europe and beyond.
2. During the period of 800 to 1600 CE, Europe, China, and Japan came together through the Silk Road trade routes which served as the superhighway of that time. These three powerful nations coexisted peacefully and prosperously through trading goods such as silks, weapons, precious metals, cotton, dyes, ivory, spices, teas and exchanging technological and religious ideas. Asia emerged as a powerhouse during this time and bridging the gap with Europe was the logical step towards ensuring prosperity for all cultures involved. One of the significant advantages of this agreement was the exchange of military power, including ideas and weapon technology. The other benefit was the spread of religious knowledge, which enriched the lands. These advantages have greatly influenced the course of history that we know today.
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