|Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (Retd.)|
Silk Road or Silk Route was historical network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa.
Starting of Silk Road
The "Silk Road" originated during the 1st century BC, following efforts by the Yuezhi (Jats) and Xiongnu in the Tarim Basin to consolidate a road to the Western world and India, both through direct settlements in the area of the Tarim Basin and diplomatic relations with the countries of the Dayuan, Parthians and Bactrians further west. The Silk Roads were a "complex network of trade routes" that gave people the chance to exchange goods and culture.
Silk Road in Central Asia
Expansion of Scythian (Jat) culture
The expansion of Scythian culture (Jats) stretching from the Hungarian plains and the Carpathians to the Chinese Kansu Corridor and linking Iran, and the Middle East with Northern India and the Punjab, undoubtedly played an important role in the development of the Silk Road. Scythians accompanied the Assyrian Esarhaddon on his invasion of Egypt, and their distinctive triangular arrowheads have been found as far south as Aswan. These nomadic peoples were dependent upon neighbouring settled population for a number of important technologies, and in addition to raiding vulnerable settlements for these commodities, also, encouraged long distance merchants as a source of income through the enforced payment of tariffs. Soghdian Scythian merchants played a vital role in later periods in the development of the Silk Road.
Roman conquest of Egypt
Soon after the Roman conquest of Egypt in 30 BC, regular communications and trade between China, Southeast Asia, India, the Middle East, Africa and Europe blossomed on an unprecedented scale. The Greco-Roman trade with India started by Eudoxus of Cyzicus in 130 BC kept on increasing, and according to Strabo (II.5.12), by the time of Augustus, up to 120 ships were setting sail every year from Myos Hormos in Roman Egypt to India.
Important places on Silk Road
Following Important places and regions of Central Asia are connected with Silk Route and Jat history as well. There is a need to further research the matter.
- Aleppo: is city in Syria and capital of Aleppo Governorate. The city's significance in history has been its location at the end of the Silk Road, which passed through central Asia and Mesopotamia.
- Alma-Ata: was the former capital of Kazakhstan till 1997 and the nation's largest city. In the 10–14th centuries, settlements in the territory of the so-called "Greater Almaty" became part of the trade routes of the Silk Road.
- Andijan: the fourth-largest city in Uzbekistan, and the capital of the Andijan Province. Andijan was an important stop on the Silk Road, lying roughly mid-way between Kashgar and Khodjend.
- Antioch: was an ancient Greek city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. Its ruins lie near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.
- Aswan: city in the south of Egypt.
- Badakhshan: Badakhshan was an important trading center during antiquity. Lapis lazuli was traded exclusively from there as early as the second half of the 4th millennium BC. Badakhshan was the very important region where the "Silk Path" was passing over through
- Bagram : founded as Alexandria on the Caucasus and known in medieval times as Kapisa, is a small town and seat in Bagram District in Parwan Province of Afghanistan.
- Bamian:the capital of Bamyan Province in central Afghanistan.
- Bandipora: town and district in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
- Bishkek: formerly Pishpek and Frunze, is the capital and the largest city of Kyrgyzstan.
- Bukhara: the capital of the Bukhara Province (viloyat) of Uzbekistan in Central Asia. Located on the Silk Road, the city has long been a center of trade, scholarship, culture, and religion.
- Chaman : capital of Qilla Abdullah district in Balochistan province of Pakistan.
- Chang'an: is an ancient capital of more than ten dynasties in Chinese history, today known as Xi'an.
- Dayuan: was a country in Ferghana valley in Central Asia.
- Dunhuang: a county-level city in northwestern Gansu province, Western China.
- Fargana: a city, the capital of Fergana Province in eastern Uzbekistan
- Gansu: a province of China, located in the northwest of the country.
- Gilgit: is the Capital city of Gilgit-Baltistan, an administrative territory claimed by Pakistan disputed with India.
- Gurez : town and tahsil in Bandipora district in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, India. Gurez may be identified with Daratpura of Rajatarangini.
- Hamadan: Hamadan stands on the Silk Road, and even in recent centuries the city enjoyed strong commerce and trade as a result of its location on the main road network in the western region of Persia and Iran.
- Hazrat-e Turkestan: a city and a center of the Jambyl Province in Kazakhstan. The ancient cities Taraz (Aulie-Ata) and Hazrat-e Turkestan had long served as important way-stations along the Silk Road connecting East and West.
- Issyk Kul Lake: In Kyrgyzstan, was a stopover on the Silk Road, a land route for traders, merchants and other travelers from the Far East to Europe.
- Istanbul: earlier also known as Constantinople, is the largest city in Turkey.
- Jaxartes : Jaxartes or Syr Darya (Hindi:(जगजार्टिस) is a river in Central Asia, sometimes known as the Jaxartes or Yaxartes
- Karasahr : is an ancient town on the Silk Road and the capital of Yanqi Hui Autonomous County in the Bayin'gholin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture, Xinjiang, in northwestern China.
- Kashghar: or Kashi is a city in the western part of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China.
- Khujand:Khujand is a city and capital of the northernmost province of Tajikistan, now called Sughd.
- Khotan: Khotan or the oasis town of Hotan was previously known in Chinese as Yutian. Hotan is the capital of Hotan Prefecture, Xinjiang, China.
- Khyber Pass - Throughout history it has been an important trade route between Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent and a strategic military location.
- Kucha: an ancient Buddhist kingdom located on the branch of the Silk Road that ran along the northern edge of the Taklamakan Desert in the Tarim Basin and south of the Muzat River.
- Kyzylorda, formerly known as Kzyl-Orda is a city in Kazakhstan, capital of Kyzylorda Province in Central Asia. Kyzylorda region is one of the historical centers of the Silk Road.
- Lopnor : a former salt lake in China, now largely dried-up. Its ancient name was Shen-shen.
- Merv, formerly Achaemenid Satrapy of Margiana, and later Alexandria was a major oasis-city in Central Asia, on the historical Silk Road. It is today known as Mary in Turkmenistan.
- Naryn: is the provincial administrative center of the Naryn Province in central Kyrgyzstan.
- Nishapur: is a city in the Razavi Khorasan Province, capital of the Nishapur County and former capital of Khorasan, in northeastern Iran.
- Niya: was once a major commercial center on an oasis on the southern branch of the Silk Road in the southern Taklamakan Desert. During ancient times camel caravans would cut through, carrying goods from China to Central Asia.
- Otrar: or Utrar; also called Farab) (ancient name is Parab or Farab (Persian: پاراب Parab) is a Central Asian ghost town that was a city located along the Silk Road in Kazakhstan.
- Palmyra: was an ancient city in Syria. Dating back to the Neolithic, Palmyra was first attested in the early second millennium BC as a caravan stop for travelers crossing the Syrian Desert.
- Pamir Mountains (also Meru:मेरु) are a mountain range in Central Asia formed by the junction or knot of the Himalayas, Tian Shan, Karakoram, Kunlun, and Hindu Kush ranges. Pamir Mountains were considered a strategic trade route between Kashgar and Kokand on the Northern Silk Road
- Samarkand- the second-largest city in Uzbekistan and the capital of Samarqand Province. The city is most noted for its central position on the Silk Road between China and the West.
- Ser-India: or Serindia combines Seres (China) and India to refer to the part of Asia also known as Sinkiang, Chinese Turkistan or High Asia.
- Shaanxi: is a province of the People's Republic of China, officially part of the Northwest China region. It includes portions of the Loess Plateau on the middle reaches of the Yellow River in addition to the Qin Mountains (Qinling) across the southern part of this province.
- Shymkent , formerly known as Chimkent until 1993, is the capital city of South Kazakhstan Province.
- Sinkiang]]: or Xinjiang is a region of the China in the northwest of the country.
- Taklamakan: is a desert in southwest Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, northwest China.
- Taraz: a city and a center of the Jambyl Province in Kazakhstan. The ancient cities Taraz (Aulie-Ata) and Hazrat-e Turkestan had long served as important way-stations along the Silk Road connecting East and West.
- Turpan: is a city located in the east of Xinjiang, People's Republic of China.
- Taxila: Taxila lay at the crossroads of three major trade routes: the royal highway from Pāṭaliputra; the north-western route through Bactria, Kāpiśa, and Peshawar; and the route from Kashmir and Central Asia, via Śrinigar, Mānsehrā, and the Haripur, Pakistan valley across the Khunjerab pass to the Silk Road.
- Yarkand : (Yarkant) is name of a River and also County in China.
- Jerry H. Bentley, Old World Encounters: Cross-Cultural Contacts and Exchanges in Pre-Modern Times (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 32.
- Strabo's Geography Book II Chapter 5