Silk Road

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Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (Retd.)

Route of Silk Road

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.[1]

Silk Road in Central Asia

The central Asian sections of the trade routes were expanded around 114 BC by the Han dynasty, largely through the missions and explorations of Zhang Qian.

The main traders during Antiquity were the Indians and the Bactrians. They were followed by Sogdians from the 5th to the 8th centuries and then came the Arab and Persian traders on the scene.

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.[2]

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.

  • 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.
  • Sind Valley (Gandarbal, Kashmir)
  • 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.
  • Trabzon, historically known as Trebizond in English, is a city on the Black Sea coast of northeastern Turkey and the capital of Trabzon Province. Trabzon was located on the historical Silk Road.
  • Yarkand : (Yarkant) is name of a River and also County in China.



  1. Jerry H. Bentley, Old World Encounters: Cross-Cultural Contacts and Exchanges in Pre-Modern Times (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 32.
  2. Strabo's Geography Book II Chapter 5