Great Silk Road
In the contemporary world, cultural and historical heritage, among other things, has become, a real brand. After all, values with a rich history are unique, they have passed the test of time, and are easily recognizable.
This phenomenon is natural, such an approach is fully justified. With the proviso that the generated images are consonant with reliable sources, documents, information without bias in one direction or another.
One of such world famous historical brands is the Great Silk Road. Its exceptional popularity is due to the tremendous importance for the region and the continent, the development of civilization as a whole.
The routes of the Silk Road, as is known, are inherently connected with our country. This article will tell you about which role was determined to the ancient cities of Uzbekistan on the first transport artery between the East and the West, appreciating not only the economic, but also the cultural and humanitarian component.
How did it all start?
There is evidence, confirmed by a number of studies that the history of Silk trade routes in the Uzbekistan region goes back several thousand years. At all times, the all-round evolution of nations was associated with the origination of transit and trade routes. For many centuries BC, relations between nations began to develop rapidly in most parts of Central Asia. As it is known from historical sources in the Bronze Age, our region was connected by trade routes with its neighbors. Among the routes there were the so-called Lazurite Route, which brought gems from Central Asia to Iran, Mesopotamia and Egypt; the Shakh Route of the Ahamenid era, as well as other routes.
If we allude to the ancient manuscripts, the beginning of the Great Silk Road functioning dates from the second half of the 2nd century BC, when the Chinese diplomat and traveler Zhang Jian first opened the Western territory for the Celestial Empire - the states of Central Asia. Thus, according to the academician Edward Rtveladze, two great roads were connected into one whole, which previously went into unknown lands. One - from the west from the Mediterranean countries, traversed by the Hellenes and Macedonians during the campaigns of Alexander the Great and the Seleucids; the other - from the east from the Han Empire, explored by Zhang Jian, who passed this region from north to south through Davan (Fergana), Kanguy (Central Asian Mesopotamia) and Bactria.
The Chinese traveler was awaited by an impressive sight at that time: in the Fergana Valley he counted more than 70 urban settlements. Here craft and agriculture were developed, and the inhabitants were trading with India, the Near and Middle East, as well as with Greece and Rome. Zhang Jian reported on everything to the emperor, and also spoke about the amazing beauty of the horses he had seen. The traveler advised to improve relations with the rulers of this region. In 121 BC, the first caravan loaded with silk and bronze mirrors set off along the Great Silk Road. Its destination was the Fergana oasis.
By the way, the familiar, now branded name of the transcontinental route - the Silk Road – has become established by historical standards relatively recently. This term (in German “Seidenstrassen”) was introduced into scientific use by the geographer Ferdinand von Richthofen in 1877. Silk, as it was noted by another German scientist Albert Hermann, was the main product that introduced the two different worlds - East and West.
If not to go into the legends and traditions about the history of silk deeply, then it is worth mentioning that it began to be produced in China two thousand years BC. This thin and pleasant fabric very soon began to be produced in rather large quantities, while other countries could not even guess from what it is made - “as light as a cloud” and “as transparent as ice”. Due to the fact that the Chinese kept the secret of production carefully, outside of the Celestial Empire, it cost fabulous money. This made the export of silk fabric one of the biggest sources of profit. Long before the adjusted communication, separate, irregular caravans were sent to the West, carrying rolls of precious linen.
The role of Uzbek cities on the Silk trade and economic routes of that time
The Great Silk Road was of great significance for its era. Starting from the Chinese Xian and passing through East Turkestan, Central Asia, Iran, Mesopotamia to the Mediterranean Sea, it had a length of nearly 12 thousand kilometers. And the Uzbek region was located in its very center.
At that time, in Central Asia, prototypes of the current logistics centers — caravanserais — were being formed. Many merchants did not go all the way of the Silk Route from China to Europe, which would have taken them many months, but they were engaged in transit supplies, bartering goods from partners. Often merchants bought products, for example, in Samarkand, Termez, which, in particular, is evidence of traces of imported goods found during excavations. Ancient Chinese “wu shu” coins, as well as the minted coins of the Tang dynasty, were found in Fergana and surrounding areas from the second century BC.
Ancient cities and regions located on the territory of contemporary Uzbekistan turned into not only centers of transit trade, but also developed production of that time. For example, Chach - the current metropolitan area - in the early Middle Ages became the largest ore-metallurgical region of Central Asia, where precious and non-ferrous metals, iron ore and gems were mined. According to contemporaries, Chach supplied to other lands high-quality woolen fabrics, beautifully tanned leather, famous fighting bows and arrows, saddles that were in great demand among the soldiers of the steppes and cities, quivers, rugs, blankets, furs and skins, fur clothes, cotton, cocoons. silkworm, flaxseed, iron scissors and needles, grain products, glazed ceramic dishes.
In the Middle Ages, cities were actively developing; trade relations were ascertained with the countries of the West, including Southern and Eastern Europe, and in the east - with China. For example, a Samanid dirham treasure found near modern Chinaz can be an evidence of the great trade. The significant flourishing of the Great Silk Road also fell on the board of Amir Temur, when safety was ensured on all roads, and scientists and architects from all over the world gathered in the cities of his vast state. Sakhibkiran created favorable conditions for the rapid development of handicraft business. The role of our region not only as a transshipment point in trans regional trade, but also as a manufacturer of high-quality goods increased significantly.
In the judgment of historians, the convenient geographical position contributed to the fact that Central Asia and Uzbekistan, in particular, became the epicenter of the most important ethnic processes - migration of peoples, active interaction of cultures. Thanks to the Great Silk Road, vigorous activity was conducted: large-scale trade operations were carried out, diplomatic treaties and alliances were concluded. The peoples of Central Asia have an outstanding significance in the distribution of letters and world religions, as well as many cultural and technical achievements.
The combination of factors makes it possible to say that the Great Silk Road is not just a caravan route, but a multifunctional phenomenon unique in the history of Eurasia, the degree of influence of which on many aspects of its existence was enormous.
Popular products of the Great Silk Road
The beginning of trade relations accelerated the collection of semi-precious stones in Central Asia, such as lapis lazuli, jade, carnelian and turquoise, which were evaluated in the East.
Camels, carpets, cotton fabrics, exotic fruits, sheep, dogs, glassware, gold and silver, embroidered clothing, horses, leopard and lion skin, military equipment were exported from Central Asia.
From the east caravans carried porcelain, cosmetics, dishes, tea and rice, and elephant tusks, rhino horns, tortoiseshell, and other goods were carried to the west.
The Great Silk Road is one of the most attractive tourist routes. Therefore, today the best tourist operator of Central Asia, Peopletravel, invites you on a silk route tour along one of the most essential countries of the Great Silk Road - Uzbekistan. You can visit both individual cities and choose a cruise route or even create your own; and we will help in its organization. Acquaintance with the East is really a delicate matter, this should be trusted only to professionals.