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HIST341: The Silk Road and Central Eurasia

Unit 2: Defining the Silk Road   The Silk Road was a series of interconnected trade routes linking all parts of Eurasia with China, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean World.  The route first emerged during the Han Dynasty in China, when merchants expanded the lucrative Chinese silk trade westward.  The Silk Road, however, was comprised of a number of routes.  A first, the Northern Route, began in the Chinese city of Chang’an and pushed westward through central Eurasia and Persia.  A second, the Southern Route, ran through India and ended in the Levant.  And a maritime route originated at the mouth of the Red River (present-day Hanoi), looped around southeast Eurasia and the Indian subcontinent, and ended at the Red Sea and Persian Gulf.  Luxury goods such as silk brocade, porcelain, frankincense, sandalwood, and glass were traded along these routes.

In this unit, we will study the geography of the Silk Road and the many routes connecting East Asia, Central Eurasia, and the Mediterranean.  We will also consider the many cultures involved in this extensive trade network.

Unit 2 Time Advisory
Time Advisory: This unit will take you approximately 2.5 hours to complete.

☐    Unit 2 Introduction: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 2.3: 0.5 hour

Unit2 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:
 
- Identify the parts of Eurasia studied in relation to the Silk Road and their geographical properties. - Identify some of the primary land and sea routes associated with this trading network.

  • Reading: University of Washington’s “Art of the Silk Road” Exhibit: Dr. Jason Neelis's “Silk Road Trade Routes” Link: University of Washington’s “Art of the Silk Road” Exhibit: Dr. Jason Neelis's “Silk Road Trade Routes” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: This reading covers subunits 2.1, 2.2, and all inclusive sub-subunits.  Please read this text in its entirety.  Dr. Jason Neelis, from the Department of Religion of University Florida Gainesville, offers an in-depth description of the network of routes commonly known as the “Silk Road," which he traces back to the Han Dynasty of China (206 BCE-220 CE)-- a subject that we will return to later in the course. Please be sure to use the "map" link at the top of the page for a general picture of the lands encompassed within this trading network.
     
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  • Reading: University of Washington: Professor Daniel C. Waugh’s “The Silk Roads and Eurasian Geography” Link: University of Washington: Professor Daniel C. Waugh’s “The Silk Roads and Eurasian Geography” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: This reading covers subunits 2.1, 2.2, and all inclusive units.  Please read this text in its entirety.  This reading offers a brief overview of the geography of Eurasia, and its relationship to human settlement and movement, with some photo gallery images of the landscapes in various countries.
     
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2.1 The Northern Route   Note: This topic is covered by the readings under the Unit 2 introduction.

2.1.1 Geography   Note: This topic is covered by the readings under the Unit 2 introduction.

2.1.2 Cities   Note: This topic is covered by the readings under the Unit 2 introduction.

2.1.3 Caravans   Note: This topic is covered by the readings under the Unit 2 introduction.

2.1.4 Trade Goods   Note: This topic is covered by the readings under the Unit 2 introduction.

2.2 The Southern Route   Note: This topic is covered by the readings under the Unit 2 introduction.

2.2.1 Geography   Note: This topic is covered by the readings under the Unit 2 introduction.

2.2.2 Trade Goods   Note: This topic is covered by the readings under the Unit 2 introduction.

2.3 Maritime Silk Routes   - Reading: China Daily: Ministry of Culture, P.R. China’s “Maritime Silk Road” Link: China Daily: Ministry of Culture, P.R. China’s “Maritime Silk Road” (HTML)
 
Instructions: This reading covers subunits 2.3.1 and 2.3.2.  Please read this text in its entirety.  The sea route led from the mouth of the Red River near modern Hanoi, through the Malacca Straits to Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka, and India, and then on to the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea.
 
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2.3.1 Eastern Han Dynasty   Note: This topic is covered by the reading beneath subunit 2.3.

2.3.2 From China to the Red Sea   Note: This topic is covered by the reading beneath subunit 2.3.