Change-Over-Time: The Silk Road
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1. Analyze the continuities and changes in globalization patterns that resulted from trade on the Silk Roads from 200 B.C.E. to 1450 C.E.
During the period of time between 200 B.C.E. and 1450 C.E., the Silk Road underwent many subtle transformations while at the same time remaining as a major fact of life in the trading world. The trade of spices and goods to and from Asia and Europe remained constant, while the methods of payment changed gradually over time. The political boundaries as well as the national identities of the encompassing countries also were altered and thus the subject of much dispute. Despite changes in the way business was conducted and the forms of currencies used, the original purpose of the Silk Road remained intact throughout this time period. Asian commodities were traded with European merchants along the road and vice versa. Asia’s economy, such as that of China specifically, remained heavily reliant on the funds from Silk Road trade. Likewise, Europe’s economic status remained fueled by European demand for Asian goods in addition to domestic products. These occurrences between the year 200 B.C. and 1450 C.E. serve as a testament to the fact that this system of roads was an essential part of globalization patterns.
The pre-existing conditions to this nearly 1700-year period were favorable for change. With the recent rise to power, the Han Dynasty was a force to be reckoned with in the East. They acquired land and eventually gained control of the Silk Road, paving the way for open trade in the West. At the same, all the Greek city-states became united under Roman rule, effectively creating a possible trade partner for China. This was an undeniable stroke of luck that these two events happened at the same time and proved to better trade between the East and the West, via eventual safer routes. Also, a notable invention known as the stirrup helped make fearsome cavalries of the emerging super power known as Huns even deadlier, allowing them to conquer and rise to power in the Central Steppe region of Asia. As the saying goes, the tides of change were about to take a turn for either the better or the worse for the world.
There were many changes between the two dates in question. The world was slowly becoming smaller and growing evermore connected. The Silk Road helped to facilitate this globalization by providing ways to communicate and share ideas, as well as merchandise and diseases. As certain populations became widely varied demographically, specifically in China with the invasion of the Hun’s, multiple cultures and religions were combined, effectively creating diverse societies that were ever changing. The construction in roads brought expedited trade and safer trade routes, encouraging more and more people to become merchants. This bolstered the availability of foreign products in domestic markets and provided a way for diseases and cultural ideas to be exchanged. One thing to note is that early on, many transactions were not conducted with money and for payment, the parties would attempt to exchange certain quantities of items in order to obtain the ones they wanted to acquire. Another way that business changed over time was the use of middlemen. Usually items would pass from one to another until it reached someone who would want to sell the items domestically. The development of ships and sailing routes essentially cut out the role of the middlemen by actually taking water routes directly to the country where the desired items originated. Other events such as the fall of the Western half of the Roman empire, the construction of aqueducts and the great wall of China, and the start of the Renaissance in Europe, the rise of Feudal systems, and the domination of monarchies all contributed to the patterns of