Silk Road Trade & Travel Encyclopedia
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East-West Silk Routes The "Silk Road" crossed two continents from Turkey in Europe, to China in Asia. Though it may sound as a single road, the "Silk Road" was a network of centuries-old trade routes which enabled travelers and traders to go from Xian (Chang'an) in China, to Istanbul (Constantinople) in Turkey. The routes cross Central Asia which is the heart of the largest landmass on earth, known as Eurasia. Civilizations of the East and West interacted along these ancient routes, which also connected ports and sea routes.


Eastern World (also known as "the Orient) The term "Eastern World" refers very broadly to the various cultures, social structures and philosophical systems of "the East," namely Asia, and often  Eastern Europe (including Russia, the Indian subcontinent, the Far East, the Middle East, and Central Asia). Orientalism is known as the study of Near and Far Eastern societies and cultures (usually by "Western" scholars). However, due to the vast generalizations, misconceptions and stereotyping, the study of the Eastern World has been filled with inaccuracies as a result of the unclear approach of the discipline of Orientalism. More...


Edirne The old Ottoman capital of Edirne boasts the well restored "Rustem Pasha Kervansaray" which was designed by Sinan (c. 1490 - 1588), chief architect and civil engineer for three Ottoman sultans. This Kervansaray, built during the 16th century, is considered to be one of his best works. Rustem Pasha was the grand vizier of Sultan Suleyman, and also his son-in-law. More...

Rustem Pasha Caravanserai in Edirne, designed my Ottoman architect "Mimar Sinan," and built in the 16th century


Elci Persons given status as "elci" by the Mongols would serve as "envoys," and could often conduct trade.


Emin Minaret or Sugong Pagoda. (See Turpan)


Emissaries (See Diplomat) Ambassadors and emissaries would present messages and lavish presents, horses and trade goods along the Silk Road to imperial courts, emperors, Khans, sovereigns, local rulers and tribal chiefs. They were usually part of a delegation, mission, or embassy. Often emissaries and envoys were sent to ruler to pay tribute and homage. While some were treated well and entertained, others were not as lucky. One example of the use of emissaries can be given when the first Ming Emperor Hung Wu sent a letter to Timur in 1395, carried by an official embassy of more than 1,500 men.

A 6th century Chinese painting portraying various emissaries.


Erzurum A historical city and economic center in both the Ottoman and Byzantine eras, Erzurum offered accommodations to travelers along the Silk Road. It is the highest city in Turkey, and sits at an altitude of about 1,800 meters above sea level. With its 320 registered historical artifacts and sites, it is considered an open-air museum.


Estakhr was a properous Achaemenid city in present-day Iran, 5 kilometers north of Persepolis. It gained its importance not only from its close association with Persepolis, but commanded the western end of an ancient caravan route that ran from the Indus Valley via Kandahar and Seistan to Persia/Parthia.


Eurasia and the Silk Routes can be described as the life lines and arteries of the world, for Central Asia is the heart of the largest landmass on earth  Eurasia. A better understanding of Central Asia's role as the conduit between cultures (particular the section of the Silk Routes which linked Central Asia to China) reveals the evolution of civilizations as well as the means through which the civilizations of the East and West interacted.

Eurasia has been the host of many ancient civilizations, based in Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley, and ancient China. Eurasia is a large landmass covering about 52,990,000 km2 (20,846,000 mi2) or about 10.6% of the Earth's surface (36.2% of the land area) located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. Sometimes considered a single continent, Eurasia comprises the traditional continents of Europe and Asia. Its borders are somewhat arbitrary. Eurasia can also be seen as part of the yet larger landmass of Afro-Eurasia, whereby Eurasia is joined to Africa at the Isthmus of Suez. Eurasia is inhabited by almost 5 billion people. Many nations of the world have geo-strategic ambitions in Eurasia..

In the widely read book "The Grand Chessboard" the global strategist Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was the former National Security Advisor to U.S. President Jimmy Carter, explains that a power that dominates Eurasia could control two of the world's three most advanced and economically productive regions. A mere glance at the map also suggests that control over Eurasia would almost certainly entail Africa's subordination. He further states that about 75 per cent of the world's people live in Eurasia, and most of the world's physical wealth is there as well, both in its enterprises and underneath its soil. Eurasia accounts for 60 per cent of the world's GNP and about three-fourths of the world's known energy resources.

Eurasia came under a single political authority, which fostered long-distance commerce, during the period of Pax Mongolica. The term is often used to describe the freedom of travel and security brought on by the Mongolian conquests which brought much of Eurasia under favorable conditions for trade. (See Central Asia)


Eurasian Steppe Route A network of routes of the Silk Road which crossed from Central Asia to the Caucasus.


European Trade Routes Europe's early trading routes included the Amber Road, which served as a dependable network for long distance trade. Maritime trade along the Spice route became prominent during the Middle Ages, when nations resorted to military means for control of this trade route. However, it was in the eastern Mediterranean where extensive maritime trade first developed -- first between Egypt and Minoan Crete (c.3000-1000 BCE) -- and later with Phoenician ships throughout the Mediterranean cities of Europe, and along the north African coast. During the Middle Ages organizations such as the Hanseatic League, aimed at protecting the interests of merchants and trade, became increasingly prominent. (See Carthage) More...


Explorer A person involved in the act of searching or traveling a terrain for the purpose of discovery of resources or information. More...


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