The Silk Road (Silk Route) is a network of trade and cultural transmission routes that were central to cultural interaction through regions of the Asian continent connecting the West and East by linking traders, merchants, pilgrims, monks, soldiers, nomads, and urban dwellers from China and India to the Mediterranean Sea during various periods of time.
Trade on the Silk Road was a significant factor in the development of the civilizations of China, the Indian subcontinent, Persia, Europe, and Arabia, opening long-distance, political and economic interactions between the civilizations. Though silk was certainly the major trade item from China, many other goods were traded, and religions, syncretic philosophies, and various technologies, as well as diseases, also travelled along the Silk Routes. In addition to economic trade, the Silk Road served as a means of carrying out cultural trade among the civilizations along its network.
The main traders during antiquity were the Chinese, Persians, Greeks, Syrians, Romans, Armenians, Indians, and Bactrians, and from the 5th to the 8th century the Sogdians. During the coming of age of Islam, Arab traders became prominent.
These maps provide an overview of the Silk Road region, which stretched from China to the Mediterranean, though the lenses of the historical trade routes, belief systems, languages, climates and political borders.
|Achaemenid Persian Empire at its greatest extent, showing the Royal Road (550–330 BCE)|
|Ancient people of the Persian Empire (6th century BCE)|
|The Silk road 300 B.C - A.D. 100|
|Eurasia & the Silk Roads Map, 100 BCE|
|Silk Road trading routes|
|Mongolian period (1206–1368) in the history of the Silk Road|
|Map of Marco Polo's travels in 1271–1295|
|Travels of Marco Polo|
|The Ancient Land of Armenia|