Silk Roads Essay By Evan Cohen The Silk Road was a merchants’ heaven and a consumers’ dream.

A place where cultural diffusion was a natural occurrence and different rich cultures could both spread and blend with freedom and prosperity. This global marketplace was took hundreds of years to start and played a major factor our cultural past. Due to the combination of people, products, ideas, and modes of transit, the first global marketplace was able to widely spread different cultural ideas, beliefs, and lifestyles across Europe and Asia. The Silk Road was home to thousands of traders from all over the world, trying to trade different products from different cultures to different people in different cultures. This spread of products from person to person was a major reason why cultural items ended up in different cultures. Traders came from all over the world, and brought with them some of the most culturally rich items. When these items were traded for other items from other cultures, it allowed the passing of different cultural items. The trade of one item for another was called bartering. Veteran traders normally carried many items from various cultures due to past bartering. With all of these culturally rich items being traveled along the Silk Road, this caused many items from different cultures to be placed in other cultures where they could have their own significance. These travelers traveled through China, India, Persia, Europe, and the Gulf Coast collecting and trading these items to different cultures. These items sometimes gained popularity. An example would be silk in Europe. Silk was in high demand in Europe and without the Silk Road; it would have probably never been introduced into European society. These traders were very important to the spread of cultural along the Silk Road.

Traders on the Silk Road originated from all over the world, and as they traveled the long journey, they carried their own cultural lifestyles around with them. These cultural lifestyles would be taught be the traders to people they met along the journey, and soon the spreading of cultural lifestyles would be spread. The traders were like missionaries of their own personal cultures, and they would travel the Silk Road passing along their lifestyles. Along with spreading their home cultures, they would sometimes adopt other beliefs as well. This vast spreading of cultures was a major influence on the Silk Road. The Islamic religion was one of the quickest spreading religions on the Silk Road. Partly due to its central location in Mecca, and Mecca being one of the hottest trading spots on the Silk Road. With thousands of travelers traveling in and out through Mecca, the Islamic beliefs spread extremely quickly. As the growing religion continued to grow, countries began to model their governments around the Quran and the teachings of Muhammad. Another religion that grew out of the Silk Road was Buddhism. Originating in India, Siddhartha’s teachings were beginning to rival Hinduism and Taoism as a dominant religion. Buddhism was an easy religion for many to convert to, and due to this, many traders passing through would convert themselves and begin to live their lives in a Buddhist lifestyle. Asoka was the first Indian ruler to be a Buddhist, and placed Pillar Edicts in large cities so that all who were there could be aware of the laws of India and Buddhism. These pillar edicts were placed in large trade cities where travelers would be able to read them as well as local citizens. These influenced conversion and were major contributors to the spread of Buddhism. Due to the travelers along the Silk Road, these religions were able to quickly spread across the map. The caravan was the most popular way of travel along the Silk Road because it offered companionship along with protection throughout the journey. Caravans were groups

of traders who traveled in lines of camels together. Together, they carried goods from place to place trading and bartering for money and items of value. These groups together revolutionized the marketplace because normally people wouldn’t travel such a long distance just for the trade. But because of these caravan groups, people were more willing to travel together and trade. On the route, caravans would stop at caravanserais, which are rest stops for travelers. These rest stops would have housing for camels, and areas for the traders to gather and talk about the tales of the road. They would share stories and tell tales about events that happened along the way. Traders would plan their routes based on how well the trade was in the approaching city, and how safe the route was. Safety was something that was a big concern to travelers. In the Mongol Empire, protection was offered for travelers who were passing through. This made the Mongol Empire a prime route to take, which increased trade in its Empire. With the increase in trade, this increased the cultural diffusion in the surrounding areas. Protection was a good way for civilizations to increase their trade. Caravans were very important to the trade industry on the Silk Road, which was main factor in the cultural diffusion occurring along the way. The Silk Roads were a very important factor in the spread of cultural ideas, beliefs, and lifestyles across Europe and Asia. The traders with their culturally significant items, the different religions and belief systems that were passed on from traveler to traveler, and the caravans who made the tedious journey across the vigorous geography to travel the roads to success. Each thing played a major role in the success of the Silk Roads and the success of cultural diffusion in the world. Many things today would be impossible without this fascinating global marketplace and its effects on the culture around it.