The Silk Road: The Wild East

The Silk Road was a trade route that extended from Eastern China and India and went all the way to Europe. However, it was more than just a trade route, it was its own culture, a way of life almost independent of the countries it passed through.

Think if the wild west extended thousands of miles east and west and they used swords instead of six shooters

Think if the wild west extended thousands of miles east and west and they used swords instead of six shooters

It was a wild place to say the least. There were wild bandits, raiders, small countries that few remember, mountain fortresses and travelers from all over the world. This was “Deadliest Warrior” but for real. You had Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, Persian, Russian, Byzantines, Romans, and Venetians. When Rome controlled the Mid-East they had frequent contact with people they’ve never heard of. Roman statues were traded to India and Chinese silk and pottery were traded to Rome. There are stories of Roman soldiers going so far as China. (They were prisoners of war used to guard the eastern Parthinian boarder. The story goes that they went to China.) Chinese silk was quite the rage in Roman and the Senate even tried to issue laws to limit the wearing of it. The laws were ignored.
Silk was the big money maker. It’s called “The Silk Road” for a reason. Wars were fought over the control of the Silk Road. Byzantium and the Turks were constantly fighting for the land route south of the Black Sea. It was a sore point of contention between the two super powers and it went back and forth constantly, until…two Byzantine monks went on a mission to China. Like all Byzantines, these two were very sneaky and devious and soon discovered the secret of how they made silk. (worms! All this time. Who woulda thought?) So, they snuck these worms out and started their own silk factory right there in the Imperial palace in Constantinople. Maybe our government should learn how to make money instead of spending ours?

The wild nomads were upset that "Big Trade" made all the money so they like to rob and plunder when they could.

The Chinese Empire had remote outposts far into the western deserts and fought with Turks, Afhganis…wait, Afghanistan causing trouble? I don’t believe it. My, how things change. Like the Wild West, towns grew up along the trade routs and were supported by the merchants coming and going.

They were bustling places with local sherifs, coffin makers, saloon girls with hearts of gold and crusty prospectors.

Ideas, money and goods went back and forth from one continent to another. Very few people ever traveled the entire length of the Silk Road. Mostly it was like a relay race where one merchant would travel so far, trade his stuff and another merchant would take it further. A few travelers did go the distance. Rome sent official delegates to China, Christian missionaries went to try to convert the Mongols and Marco Polo went for an extended vacation in the east and brought back spaghetti for which I’m eternally grateful.

It wasn't all fun and games. Unless you count brushfire wars as fun.

Because LOTS of money was to be made there were people willing to kill for it. It was a dangerous place with massive wars, small skirmishes and police raids. The Mongols followed the Silk road on their unstoppable march westward.

A typical merchant along the Silk Road

China followed the road westward until they came to the Islamic Empire and the two had harsh words for each other.
So, Who is the Deadliest Warrior??!! Romans, Persians, Turks, Chinese, or rabid nomads?

My money's on this guy


3 comments on “The Silk Road: The Wild East

  1. zacharyhill says:

    Anna Komemna said this in an E-mail.

    “I love silk. I don’t want to wear anything else. I must thank those Chinese for inviting it.”

  2. Glenda says:

    But who was the deadliest????

  3. Bob says:

    Since the Mongols fall in the category of “Rabid Nomad” they get my vote

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