Silk Road Trade & Travel Encyclopedia

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Nabataeans (Nabateans, Arabic: الأنباط‎ ) lived in the Levant and the northern part of Arabia, and controlled an ancient trading network that was based on a series of oases. More...

Ghiyathuddin Naqqash
(1419-1422) Artist representing Prince Mirza Baysunghur, son of Timurid ruler Shahrukh, in embassy sent by latter to Beijing in 1419. Naqqash describes travel via a route north of the Tarim Basin (through Turfan, Jiayuguan, Suzhou to Beijing, and back via Kashgar to Herat), and describes various aspects of culture along the way, including Buddhism, and his reception at the Ming court.

Nara (ancient capital city of Heijo-kyo, 710-784 AD) During the 8th century, the city of Nara was the capital of Japan, modeled on Chang'an (now Xi'an), the great Chinese Tang Dynasty capital, which was the beginning of the Silk Road. During much of its history, Japan was off-limits to foreigners, which only added to its mystery and allure. But goods and travelers from the Silk Road certainly made their way to Japan, and Buddhism was perhaps one of the most influential imports brought to Japan along the old land and maritime trade routes. The city of Nara, the ancient capital of Japan, is considered the cradle of Japanese culture. Many valuable historic items related to the Silk Routes are housed in Nara's Shosoin Treasure Repository. The city is also known as a center for promoting research of ancient trade routes and artifacts. The Nara period marked the first emergence of a strong Japanese state. Japan had been influenced by ancient China, however during this period Japan conducted active communications with East Asian nations. Some scholars note that it was not until the attempted invasion of Japan in the 13th century, by the Mongol-Yuan Emperor Kublai Khan, that Japan began to reveal a sense of independence.

Nasreddin Hoca (Mulla Nasruddin Goha) is a satirical Sufi figure who is believed to have lived during the Middle Ages (13th century), in Turkey. His stories are based on conventional wisdom with ironic non-conformism, are always good-natured in their humanism, and are often droll. Since his death about 700 years ago, his worldwide appeal and lore continues, as the many morals of his stories are understood beyond borders. His tales and anecdotes which have been translated into dozens of languages, incorporate subtle derision and black comedy, whimsical observations about human foibles and outrageous pranks, self-satire, as well as open defiance of injustice, twists of practical logic and the outlandishly absurd. Because the humor of Nasreddin Hoca is still alive in the oral and written traditions of dozens of nations in Asia, the Balkans, the Middle East and North Africa, UNESCO has been proclaimed 1996 as Nasreddin Hoca Year.

Nathu La is a mountain pass in the Himalayas. It connects the Indian state of Sikkim with China's Tibet Autonomous Region. The pass forms a part of an offshoot of the ancient Silk Road. Nathu means "listening ears" and La means "pass" in Tibetan. It is also spelled Ntula, Natu La, Nathula, or Natula.

Naval warfare during Mongol China was planned for overseas invasions. The Mongols gave importance not only to trade routes, but also to sea routes. It built its own naval forces, both for use on rivers, and on oceans, and also acquired those of Korea and Song China. They used ocean going fleets across the Indian Ocean, which was vital for Mongol commercial interests.

Neanderthal Man (predecessor of homo sapiens) appeared in Europe and parts of western and central Asia, and was the first hominid to venture into the void between China and the Caspian Sea. The are often described as the most recent archaic humans, who were replaced by early modern humans between 35,000 and 28,000 years ago. Neanderthals inhabited Eurasia from the Atlantic regions of Europe, eastward to Central Asia, and from as far north as present-day Belgium southward to the Mediterranean and southwest Asia. Similar human populations lived at the same time in eastern Asia and Africa. See History of Eurasia, and Peking Man.

Negev ( Hebrew: נֶּגֶב‎‎, Arabic: النقبal-Naqab) Towns along the Incense Route and desert cities of the Negev in southern Israel prospered because of the profitable trade in frankincense (and myrrh) from south Arabia to the Mediterranean, which flourished from the 3rd century BC until the 2nd century AD. More...

Neolithic Period (China c. 8000 - 1500 BCE) Chinese civilization originated in various regional centers along both the Yellow River and the Yangtze River valleys in the Neolithic era, however, the Yellow River is said to be the "Cradle of Chinese Civilization." The written history of China has been documented as early as the Shang Dynasty (c. 1700–1046 BC). Over a million years ago, during the Paleolithic period China, was inhabited by Homo erectus. 

The term Neolithic is used, especially in archaeology and anthropology, to designate a stage of cultural evolution or technological development characterized by the use of stone tools, the existence of settled villages largely dependent on domesticated plants and animals, and the presence of such crafts as pottery and weaving. The time period and cultural content indicated by the term varies with the geographic location of the culture considered and with the particular criteria used by the individual scientist. The domestication of plants and animals usually distinguishes Neolithic culture from earlier Paleolithic or Mesolithic hunting, fishing, and food-gathering cultures. More...

Nestorianism is a Christological doctrine advanced by Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople from 428–431. The doctrine (see Nestorius's studies under Theodore of Mopsuestia at the School of Antioch) emphasizes the disunion between the human and divine natures of Jesus. After the church grew, it increased missionary efforts and missionaries established dioceses in the Arabian Peninsula and India. Some advances were made in Egypt, despite the strong Oriental Orthodox presence there. Missionaries entered Central Asia and seem to have had significant success converting local Tartar tribes. Nestorian missionaries were established in China during the early part of the Tang Dynasty (618–907). The Chinese source known as the Nestorian Stele records a mission under a Persian proselyte named Alopen as introducing Nestorian Christianity to China in 635. More...

Nestorian priests in a procession on Palm Sunday, in a 7th- or 8th-century wall painting from a Nestorian church in China.

"New World" is a term used for the Western Hemisphere, specifically America. The term originated in the late 15th century, when America had been recently discovered by European explorers, expanding the geographical horizon of the European middle Ages which had thought of the world as consisting of Europe, Asia, and Africa (collectively, the Old World).

John Newbery
(c. 1580) A London merchant, Newbery undertook three trips. The first went only as far as the Levant. The second took him from the Levant through Mesopotamia to the Persian Gulf and Hormuz and then back through central Persia, the southern fringe of the Caucasus, Anatolia, and Eastern Europe. On the third trip, he was accompanied by Ralph Fitch, John Eldred, William Leeds and James Story to the Mughal Court in India. Newbery died on the route home. He was the first Englishman to visit several of these regions.

Afanasy Nikitin
A Russian merchant who traveled through Persia to India and spent more than 18 months there. He died just before reaching home in 1472. Nikitin was one of the first Europeans (after Niccolò de' Conti) to travel to and document his visit to India. The largest part of his travel account describes India. More...

Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region is in the Silk Road section of the People's Republic of China, located on the northwest Loess highland. The Yellow River flows through a vast area of the region. The Great Wall of China runs along its northeastern boundary. Ningxia is the home of the Hui people, one of the officially recognized nationalities of China. The capital of the region is Yinchuan, a city which features unique Islamic architectural style, of which the domes of  the Nanguan Mosque are just one example. Ningxia is considered one of the birthplaces of Chinese civilization. The Western Xia Tombs are located at the foot of Helan Mountain (derived from Mongolian, meaning fine horses). The Sumeru Grottoes are located at the foot of Xumi Mountain. Scenic areas can be found around Liupan Mountain. The famous 108 Pagodas are located on the slopes of the Qintong Gorge in Qingtongxia City. Ningxia has received further international acclaim after The United Nations selected the Shapotou Sand Control Project Tourist Area as one of the best "Global Ecology" projects in the world. More...

Niya is an archaeological site located about 115 km north of modern town of Minfeng on the southern edge of the Tarim Basin in Xinjiang, China. Numerous ancient archaeological artifacts, such as Buddhist scriptures, sculptures, and mummies have been uncovered at the site of the ruins. Niya was once a major commercial center in an oasis on the southern branch of the Silk Road in the southern Taklamakan Desert. Ancient Niya was known as Ronglu 戎盧 during the Han Dynasties (206 BCE - 222 CE). Niya is east of Hotan, which located near the ancient city of Malikurvatur.

Nomads along the Silk Road provided fresh horses and camels and acted as guides across the mountain passes and through the sand dunes. However, nomads were also known for their military prowess, and as a result the Great Wall had been built to protect China from nomad invasions. Many nomads were horse-riding nomadic pastoralists. The Mongols, in what is now Mongolia, Russia and China, and the Tatars or Turkic people of Eastern Europe and Central Asia were nomadic peoples who practiced seasonal movement of livestock on the harsh Asian steppesMore...

Northern Route (See Silk Routes) went west along the northern foot of Tianshan Mountains, taking merchants westwards to Hami (Kumul), Urumqi and Yining, and then reached the areas near the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.

The northern route started at Chang'an (now called Xi'an), the capital of the ancient Chinese Kingdom, which, in the Later Han, was moved further east to Luoyang. The route was defined about the 1st Century BCE as Han Wudi put an end to harassment by nomadic tribes.

The route travels northwest through the Chinese province of Gansu from Shaanxi Province, and splits into three further routes, two of them following the mountain ranges to the north and south of the Taklimakan Desert to rejoin at Kashgar; and the other going north of the Tian Shan mountains through Turpan, Talgar and Almaty (in what is now southeast Kazakhstan). The routes split west of Kashgar, with one branch heading down the Alai Valley towards Termez and Balkh, while the other traveled through Kokand in the Fergana Valley, and then west across the Karakum Desert towards Merv, joining the southern route briefly.

One of the branch routes turned northwest to the north of the Aral and Caspian seas then and on to the Black Sea. Yet another route started at Xi'an, passed through the Western corridor beyond the Yellow Rivers, Xinjiang, Fergana (in present-day eastern Uzbekistan), Persia and Iraq before joining the western boundary of the Roman Empire. A route for caravans, the northern Silk Road brought to China many items, such as "dates, saffron powder and pistachio nuts from Persia; frankincense, aloes and myrrh from Somalia; sandalwood from India; glass bottles from Egypt, and other expensive and desirable goods from other parts of the world." In exchange, the caravans sent back goods such as silk brocade, lacquer ware and porcelain.

Northern Yuan Mongolian successor state to qanate China. It was established by Toghon Temur after his expulsion from China, and ruled by him until his death in 1370, and then by his heirs.

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