"What lay behind the emergence of Silk Road commerce, and what kept it going for so many centuries?"
Eurasia was divided into two regions, known as Inner and Outer Eurasia. Outer Eurasia had a warm climate suitable for agriculture, while Inner Eurasia had a harsher, drier climate that could not sustain crops. Due to this, pastoral people began to raid and trade with their agricultural counterparts. They exchanged hides, furs, livestock, wool, and amber for agricultural products of other civilizations. The movement of pastoral peoples over thousands of years diffused Indo-European languages, metallurgy, and horse technologies across Eurasia. The creation of classical empires also helped facilitate connections across Eurasia. The Persian Empire invaded pastoral territory, Alexander the Great's empire expanded through Central Asia, and the Han Dynasty stretched westward where they came into contact with the Xiongnu. Through this, indirect trade linked these classical civilizations in a network of transcontinental exchange. When powerful states provided protection for travelers along the Silk Roads, these trade networks prospered. The Silk Road flourished first in the time of Rome and China and continued to through various other civilizations.
I wasn't sure I should list all of the examples because it seemed like they just served as elaboration to Strayer's points. On a test, would we be expected to provide a few examples? Details seem to catch me.
Here is what I got for the first margin question:
"What lay behind the emergence of Silk Road commerce, and what kept it going for so many centuries?"
Eurasia is often divided into inner and outer zones that represent quite different environments. Outer=well suitable for agriculture, while Inner=not conducive for agriculture. Long inhabited by pastoral peoples, the people of this region had for centuries traded with and raided their agricultural neighbors to the south. Products of the forest and of semi-arid northern grasslands known as steppes were exchanged for the agricultural products and manufactured goods of adjacent civilizations. The construction of the classical civilizations and their imperial states added another element to these earlier Eurasian connections. By the early centuries of the Common Era, indirect trading connections linked the classical civilizations in a network of transcontinental exchange. Silk Road trading networks prospered most when large and powerful states provided security for merchants and travelers. Silk Road trade flourished again during the 7th and 8th centuries as the Byzantine Empire, the Muslim Abbasid dynasty, and Tang dynasty China created an almost continuous belt of strong states across Eurasia. In the 13th and 14th centuries, the Mongol Empire briefly encompassed almost the entire route of the Silk Roads in a single state, giving a renewed vitality to long-distance trade.
It seems like we got the same answer, and I was wondering the same thing!
I also added some specific examples of what specific civilizations wanted to trade and why. For instance, the Chinese wanted to gain access to the "heavenly horses" so important to their military
Both of your answers are great and Emily's addition, necessary I think to get the added points. But the answers should be a bit more concise.
I was just about to answer this!!!
It seems like you provided a fair amount of examples, it didn't sound incomplete.
You could have also said that Inner Eurasia had already been trading and raiding from its neighbors centuries before the "advent" of the Silk Roads.
I was referring to Victoria's answer.
"What made silk such a highly desired commodity across Eurasia?"
- China held a monopoly on silk-producing technology.
- In Central Asia, silk was used as a currency and as a means for accumulating wealth.
- In both China and the Byzantine Empire, silk became a symbol of high status.
- Silk became associated with the sacred in the expanding world religions of Buddhism and Christianity.
- Chinese Buddhist pilgrims who traded in India seeking religious texts and relics took along large quantities of silk as gifts to monasteries they visited.
- Buddhist monks received purple silk robes from Tang dynasty emperors as a sign of high honor.
- In the world of Christians, silk wall hangings, altar coverings, and vestments (robes) became highly prestigious signs of devotion and piety.
- A silk industry did not develop until later in Western Europe, so a considerable market for silk developed, and it was dependent on the Islamic world.
Let me know if you got something different!
The only thing I would add is that the splendor of churches also depended on silk from the Muslim world.
I did not understand this question. in the book, Strayer seems to be talking about HOW silk was prized in Eurasia, not why. I can see why spices for tasty food and iron and horses for the various armies would be prized, but the question still remains unanswered as to WHY silk was a symbol of high status and religious fervor. Could anyone help me out?
It's hella soft, feels good, looks good, and is hard to come by. That's just a guess as to why. I mean, why is gold so coveted? Its shiny, its rare, what else makes it particularly special.
Yeah, Paris is right. I think Strayer is presuming you agree, that like diamonds and gold today, silk was expensive and desirable for the reasons Paris listed.
So would this question be answered with both?
So if I write that silk is hella soft, will I get the answer right?
Most of the points about this question I've heard and that I've seen on this forum just seem like circular logic. It was prized because it was a prize.
There should be a like button. Solely for what Emma said.
"What were the major economic, social, and cultural consequences of Silk Road commerce?"
-The volume of trade on the Silk Roads was small compared to global commerce, as it only focused on luxury goods. This limited its impact to the elites.
-Peasants of southern China began to focus on the production of silk and other luxury goods, rather than crops, because that's where the demand was.
-Favorably placed people could benefit from long-distance trade. Merchants with trading businesse along the Silk Roads had an opportunity to make a fortune. (Like the Ramisht dude)
I would label the first one as cultural, the second one as social, and te last one as economic. But I'm not entirely sure. Corrections are appreciated.
Don't forget the emerging importance of silk in Christianity and Buddhism. That came from the Silk Road, nott the original religions. Buddhism was spread among merchants on the Silk Roads.Buddhism itself changed during this. The Mahayana Buddhism was more popular and Buddhist monasteries were sometimes very rich, when before Buddhist monks had shunned the material world. Buddhism also picked up elements from other cultures as bodhisattvas. This is environmental, but there was also the spread of diseases including small pox, anthrax, measles, the bubonic plague, and others.
I understand exactly what you are saying, but i still don't understand how there is so little answers to this question even though it sounds like there should be more. Please give me some guidance for this question.
Here's another one!
"What was the impact of disease along the Silk Roads?"
-Diseases in the Roman Empire and the Han dynasty (Smallpox and Measles) devastated the population which contributed to their political collapse.
- These disasters strengthened the appeal of Christianity in Europe and Buddhism in China because they offered compassion in the face of immense suffering.
- The Byzantine Empire lost great numbers due to the Bubonic plague, and it weakened the ability of Christendom to resist the Muslim armies.
- The Mongol Empire suffered greatly from the Black Death, which was facilitated because of the intensified interaction, and it spread from China to Europe.
- Tenant farmers and urban workers who did not suffer from the Black Death could demand higher wages or better terms.
- Landowning nobles were boldly hurt as the price of their grains dropped and the demands of their dependents grew.
- In the long run, the exchange of diseases gave Europeans a certain advantage when they confronted the peoples of the Western Hemisphere: exposure over time had provided them with some degree of immunity to Eurasian diseases.
Feel free to give me feedback or corrections!
Disease also prevented Byzantium in succeeding to reintegrate Italy into the Roman Empire. In Central Asia, the fall of the Mongols that you mentioned permanently altered the balance between agriculturalists and pastoralists in favor of settled farmers.The spread of foreign diseases meant little immunity and high death rates. I know this last one seems obvious, but Bingham told us in class that we sometimes lose key points because they are so simple that we don't write them down
Your point about the Mongols is unclear. If the point be made, you need to mention that Mongolian rule was undermined and the balance between pastoral and agricultural peoples was lost.
Why wasn't there a margin question created for how Buddhism changed as it spread along the Silk Roads? That stuck out as significant to me.
I thought the same thing...sounds like a Bingham question!:)
"What accounted for the spread of Buddhism along the Silk Roads?"
-Buddhism spread along the Silk Roads mainly through merchants, as they preferred its universal message over Hinduism's caste
Uggh...accidentally tapped the submit button.
-Indian traders and monks were supported by rulers such as Ashoka and they brought Buddhism to the trade routes.
-Buddhism took hold in the oasis cities of Central Asia as a voluntary process.
-These cities were dependent on long distance trade and found in Buddhism a link to the prestigious civilization of India.
-Buddhist merchants could earn religious merit by building monasteries.
-The monasteries were convenient and familiar places of rest for merchants journeying across the Silk Roads.
I think I'm missing some things, so please comment with anything else. I don't really think the pastoral section applies.
I think another thing that could have accounted for the spread is the foreign merchant communities that brought Buddhism to China. I don't think you're missing anything else. I couldn't find anything that you don't already have.
I actually do think that the pastoralist peoples did have a little something to do with it. At first it was harder for them to be a part of Buddhism because they couldn't build monasteries and they had no written language. However, as they came to control stationary communities or became involved in long-distance trade, Buddhism seemed more attractive. Buddhism was still spreading, however little.
Also the monk Fotudeng (page 223) had a reputation as a miracle worker, rain maker, and fortune teller that brought him a relationship with Shi Le who converted thousands.
Buddhism was originally a religion based on the rejection of desire and material. Ironically, it's adoption and transition born from merchants, the patrons of desire and material, help spread it in its Mahayana form. It's new, more attractive doctrines helped it gain followers more easily than it's old root elements.
This first big picture question really ties in with these first posts.
What motivated and sustained the long-distance commerce of the Silk Roads, Sea Roads, and Sand Roads?
-The desire of elites for hard-to-find luxury items from distant parts of the Eurasian network, as well as the accumulation of wealth;
-especially among merchants who participated in the trade, motivated long-distance commerce.
-Sustaining trade was supported by empires and smaller states that benefited directly from the trade;
-the spread of religious traditions, including Islam and Buddhism, that through shared beliefs tied merchants and sometimes whole societies together over wide regions;
-and the development of technologies like larger ships and the magnetic compass.
Why did the Eastern Hemisphere develop long-distance trade more extensively than did the societies of the Western Hemisphere?
-The Western Hemisphere did not develop the extensive long-distance trade as did the East for several reasons, including the absence of large domesticated mammals in the Americas and the absence of large oceanic vessels. G,G &S!
-The geographical realities of the Americas, especially the narrow bottleneck of Panama, which was mostly covered by dense rain forests, made long-distance trade more difficult.
-the north/south orientation of the Americas, which required agricultural practices to move through, and adapt to, quite distinct climatic and vegetation zones, hindered east/west expansion and trading...and G,G & S again!
I know it's already been answered, but I'd like to try to answer margin question #1.
The emergence of silk roads in Eurasia can be attributed to geography and history. Eurasia was divided into Inner and Outer regions. The inner regions weren't as agriculturally capable as the outer regions, which prompted trade. The steppes would trade with the surrounding societies for manufactured materials and food. History played a huge role in trade as well. The expansion of Alexander the Great into Central Asia was a stimulus for trade, as well as the spread of Indo-European languages. The expansion of the Mongols also provided a new energy for long distance trade when they encompassed almost the entire silk road in one state. This is also one of the reasons that the Silk Trade network lasted for as long as it did. Another is that large societies and empires would provide protection for the merchants traveling along the silk road.The Byzantine, Muslim Abbasid, and Tang dynasties were all strong states that spanned across the Eurasian landmass.
In the little excerpt called "Defining a Millennium" before Ch. 8, Strayer talks about the "three major mechanisms of cross-cultural interaction". I found two clearly, trade and large empires, but what is the third? The diffusion of technologies?
I'm not looking at the book right now, but I'm fairly certain the third is conquest.
Strayer says "silk road trading networks prospered most when large and powerful states provided security for merchants". That makes sense to me, but then he continues to say the Mongol Empire briefly encompassed the entire Silk Road trading route and that gave a renewed vitality to long distance trade. Why was trading so successful when it was between wellestablished empires rather than not-so-strong states?
I think he says that because it was just the strong empires that could give the merchants protection, but when the silk roads weren't all strong empires, protection wasn't available the entire silk road. However, when the mongols encompassed most of the silk road, they were able to offer protection for the merchants all the way across. This would stimulate more trade because there was more security. I think that's right, but I'm not sure.
Yah, that's pretty much the answer, as well as if there was trade among strong empires, they could provide items and more merchants to make trade "bountiful", if you wanted to say. Then add the security system and viola! Prospering trade!
Similar to the Sea Roads, could the Silk Roads be defined as a connection of Urban centers (mostly around these oases), similar to the "archipelago of towns" Strayer uses to define the Indian Ocean trade network? Furthermore, for the Comparison question about how the Silk and Sea roads differed, did anyone get anything asides the Sea Roads were considerably cheaper to run due to larger cargo size and the fact that they had access to larger markets due to their ability to carry bulk goods wanted by the wider population (such as timber and staple crops), making them much less class specific?
Could anything be made of the fact that the Sea Roads fulcrum was based out of India, versus the Silk Roads were predominantly converging throughout the steppes of Central Asia?
This is kinda late, but probably important is the Sea Road's dependance on the monsoons. And I was thinking that the Silk Roads were more like an archipelego of towns as well, but they were more affected by empires than sea roads due to their dependance on political systems for protection.
As for India, interestingly enough Indian culture spread while Central Asian mostly facilitated the spread of other cultures. Probably has something to do with the fact that they were pastoral rather than agricultural.
Well, this question has been answered, like many of the others, but here is an example of what Bingham asked me to put on the forum, if this helps anybody...
Now if you haven't realized by now, this chapter doesn't list characteristics of a civilization like they did in ch 7 BUT you can still make an acronym never the less:
"What made silk such a highly desired commodity across Eurasia?"
L K U S A C C (D)
Now this is an acronym. Write now when I look at this I see "lost kite, uses silk as connection cord!" (like a poster looking for your lost dog :) )
L- silk was a Luxury good
K- Knowledge and technology for producing silk spread beyond china
U- silk Used as currency and means of accumulating wealth
S- Symbol of high status
A- silk became Associated with in the expansion of world religions (buddhism and christianity)
C- in world of Christendom, things made from silk became highly prestigious signs of devotion and piety
C- Christian churches depended on Islamic trading networks and on silks manufactured in Muslim world.
Now, that answers the second margin question, of course you can expand if you want to. It's just another way of looking at things. But this process helps me a tremendous amount. You can do this with any question or section in the Strayer, or pretty much anything in life... haha, but if anyone wants me to do more I will!
Oh and the D in parenthesis was about the diseases, but that doesn't pertain to the question so don't worry about it, it's just for me.
Dude, I think this is awesome! I'd like to see if you get feedback from people wanting more.
Of coerce, just as with outlining or webbing or flashcards, the secret is that you are learning by creating.
I love this!
I'm going to take a crack at comparing the ends of the Indian Ocean commerce, the Swahili and the kingdom of Srivijaya.
Both Srivijaya and the city-states of the Swahili rose as independent coastal towns competing among one another for the attention of traveling merchants. The Swahili city states grew more similarly to the Greek city states, highly competitive with one another and fiercely independent. The kingdom of Srivijaya however was as stated, a kingdom, under some form of umbrella control. Both Swahili and Srivijaya rose due to the plentiful supply of demanded products such as gold, spices, and interior Africa goods, which attracted merchant sailors to their ports. Rulers of Srivijaya tapped into local beliefs of rulers holding divine powers but blended them with the increasing influence of Indian Buddhism. Buddhism provided a "higher magic" for rulers, and Srivijaya as a result became a major center of Buddhist teaching. Srivijaya and other S.E Asian societies were heavily influenced by their Indian neighbor, and the "Indianization" of S.E Asia has been compared to the Hellenistic influence of Alexander and Rome without the encompassing power of an imperial system. In the Swahili states Islam served a similar function to Buddhism in Indonesia, providing a common culture for the area. Islam helped connect the Swahili city states to the larger Indian Ocean world by providing haven for Islamic merchants and a direct connection to the Mediterranean basin. It also served as a divider between the interior of Africa and the coast, as Islam was a primarily trade spread religion and the interior of Africa only experienced indirect trade with the Indian Ocean "Sea Roads". However, the Swahili states, similar to Axum and Meroe of the Classical Era provided means of connecting the interior of Africa with the rest of the world, acting as an economic intermediate between the producers of the highly valued luxury goods of the interior and the markets of the coast. Swahili, similarly to Srivijaya, also blended the influences of these foreign phenomena with local tradition. African Muslims spoke a variation on the Bantu language while using Arabic like script. The societies of the coast were not transplanted Arabic migrants, but African Muslims. Similarly in Srivijaya, Buddhism took on some distinctly regional attributes. Buddhist shrines, monuments, and figures all held local physical attributes, and many rulers of local kingdoms sponsored the creation of bodhisattvas with likenesses to deceased rulers. Furthermore, many works of art were set in local areas, not India as done traditionally, and architecture called on ancient S.E Asian mountain veneration. S. E Asia represented the penetration of Indian ideals and traditions while the Swahili nations embodied the Islamic traditions of their northern neighbors. Both served as catalysts for the spread of these mercantile and universal religions (Buddhism and Islam) and connected to greater Indian Ocean network through culture and trade. Let me know if I left anything out, I know this is long but I wanted to be thorough.
So you talked a little bit about how Swahili connected the interior of Africa to the rest of the world. I get how the coastal city-states were connected, but not the Niger River civilizations. I consider interior Africa to be everything in between. I believe that there was some kind of transportation of goods in the sub-saharan area soooo... is that how interior Africa was included?
I'm a little confused about what Strayer means when he says (on page 222 in the yellow book) that "favorably placed individuals" could benefit from long distance trade. What does he mean by favorably placed?
Geographically lucky. For example, the kingdom of Srivijaya was optimally placed on the Straits of Malacca, allowing them to regulate trade between India, China, and Indonesia. Those placed in hot spots of trade or "fulcrums" would benefit most because they were at the center of it all.
So, just to make sure that I am not completely getting this chapter wrong, is the concept of the chapter, that trade helped move civilizations/empires forward socially (because traders could gain wealth which allows them social mobility), economically, and politically. Is that kind of right?
The powerpoint on the website answers it thoroughly.
WHAP> 3rd Wave Societies> 3rd_period_overview.ppt
so on a technicality, when Strayer asks about disease spreading along the silk roads in the margin question, a few of the disease impacts he mentions are (if you look carefully) the result of sea trade. Can we assume that it was also a result of silk road trade? This also worries me about the other margin questions, though I haven't gotten to any that have really been a problem yet. I just want to make sure that the question is answered correctly.
All of these networks brought diseases of some kind. Sort of like the side effect of trade. It still goes on today.
So I figured I'd take a crack at the margin question on page 341 in the red book:
"How did the operation of the Indian Ocean trading network differ from that of the Silk Roads?
-Indian Ocean commerce went by sea.
-The cost of transportation was lower due to a ship's ability to carry more/heavier cargo than camels.
-Eventually shipped mass market goods such as textiles, pepper, rice, sugar, etc., while the Silk Road still stayed mainly specialized with luxury goods.
-The ability to be a productive system of trade relied on the seasonal monsoon winds that blowed east in the summer and west in the winter.
-Indian Ocean trading network didn't operate between entire regions; it mainly operated between towns around the Indian Ocean basin.
Please tell me if I missed anything because this answer feels really incomplete to me.
Thank you very much for mentioning the obvious answer (over sea). I think everything in this is accurate. I believe that you think it's incomplete because it's actually really simple and straightforward.
I was about to say that the one thing that I would add is that the sea roads grew out of environmental and cultural diversities in the region vs. silk roads growing from trading between pastoral peoples and states/empires and raiding of pastoral peoples on states/empires, but then i realized that pastoral peoples traded and raided because of environmental and cultural differences (i.e. Inner and Outer Eurasia). This might be a good connection to make later.... idk when....
Even though this isn't a margin question, on page 218 Strayer is talking about the significance of trade, which to me sounds exactly like a test question. I'll go ahead and transcribe my notes from that page.
Significance of trade
Altered consumption (salts, sugars, spices)
Encouraged people to produce products for sale in distant markets rather than locally
Diminished the local self-sufficiency of towns
Traders became a distinct (usually low) class
Trade was a means of social mobility
Allowed elite to distinguish themselves from poor
Wealth from taxing trade created states
Posed problems to government
Private or public?
Blended cultures together
Allowed for the transportation of ideas (i.e. religions)
Introduced non-native species
Am I missing anything?
Very strong Jackson. Like Paris, you are thinking outside the box in the right way.
Under politically, you put posed problems to government. But isn't one of the reasons trade was so successful that it didn't oppose government and the government supported it a lot?
Oh! Don't forget diseases!
I can feel the energy! You guys are doing what it takes to grab this course by the throat!
I know that we don't need to know this, but does anyone have a guess as to why the small ports of Malay were able to create a kingdom, but the coast of Sumatra didn't? I'm thinking it was because Malay had more of the resources that de Blij mentioned (spices, access to gold), but I'm not sure.
*Strayer, not de Blij
Hey guys I just wanted to share a comment I made that Mr. Bingham validated for people not in my class period.
The way Strayer talks about Merchants is similar to the way that De Blij defines mobals: catalysts for change.
Hope this helps someone:)
Throughout the reading I couldn't help but compare Indian culture during this period to Greek culture during the classical era. Each civilization had distinct cultures that other regions admired so much as to adopt them into their own cultures. Languages derived from Greek were used in African civilizations and I remember a document we read in class (I don't have the red book to reference so correct me if I'm wrong) described the high levels of sophistication and intellect that Greek culture was viewed as. It seems Indian culture, notably religion, was viewed in a similar way. Most of the areas involved in the Indian Ocean trade routes adopted one or more of the religions of India.
Strayer briefly addresses this comparison on page 230 in the yellow book.
I noticed that on page 221 on the hard cover version, last paragraph, Strayer says that "...and governments passed laws that restricted silk clothing to members of the elite." Did the government not want the elite class to gain too much wealth?
Hey, I think Strayer meant that only the elite class could have silk clothing. If it was saying the elite class couldnt have silk, it would be saying "restricted silk clothing FROM the members of the elite class", not to
This is what I got for the margin question : How did the operation of the indian ocean compare to the silk roads?
- more mass produced goods
-less expensive transportation
- oceanic vessels not mammal operated
- made possible by monsoons
-operated across an archipelago of towns instead of a relay trade
-Included Africa, Arabia, and Southeast Asia while the silk road did not
...and for an acronym... my lost vaccume might of run inside
So I noticed that no one has answered this margin question: "In what ways did networks of interaction in the Western Hemisphere differ from those in the Eastern Hemisphere?" As I was looking through the text for answers, I noticed that most of the things I saw were used in the answer for Big Picture Question 2. So I'm really confused as to what the difference between those two questions is.
Bingham: This forum is for us to engage with each other publicly about where we are struggling with the coursework and to offer each other solutions for what works for us.
Why Geography Matters More Than Ever