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The 'Myth' of the Silk Road
#1
I've been reading Warwick Ball's Rome in the East, and he makes some interesting statements about the existence (or not) of the famous 'silk road' between China and the west, often mentioned on this board and elsewhere:


Quote:"Such is the power of the Silk Road today that few realise the whole thing is a modern fabrication... Modern scholarship has become almost obsessed with the idea, and virtually all discussion of Roman trade with the East revolves around it, with the 'Silk Road' being the glib answer to all questions of trade and communication.

But the fact remains that the existence of the 'Silk Road' is not based on a single shred of historical or material evidence. There never was any such 'road' or even a route in the organisational sense, there was no free movement of goods between China and the west until the Mongol Empire in the Middle Ages... Both ancient Rome and China had only the haziest notions of each other's existence and even less interest, and the little relationship that did exist between East and West in the broadest sense was usually one-sided, with the stimulus coming mainly from the Chinese."

Ball, Rome in the East, 2000, pp.138-9


Ball claims that all of the silk that reached the Roman world would have come via sea traffic from India (which had an established trading network with both China and the west), rather than via some overland route. 

He also cites the lack of Roman coinage in China - only sixteen coins in one small hoard, dating from Augustus to Tiberius - as evidence against direct trade routes. "The Roman Empire could provide little that China wanted," he says - so all eastward trade would have been in coin or bullion (just the same as with the opium trade of the 19th century, in fact!).

I wonder what others here, who have studied eastern trade routes and cultural communications, make of this idea?
Nathan Ross
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Messages In This Thread
The 'Myth' of the Silk Road - by Nathan Ross - 03-12-2017, 01:17 PM
RE: The 'Myth' of the Silk Road - by Dan Howard - 03-12-2017, 02:08 PM
RE: The 'Myth' of the Silk Road - by Michael Kerr - 03-12-2017, 04:41 PM
RE: The 'Myth' of the Silk Road - by Nathan Ross - 03-12-2017, 08:52 PM
RE: The 'Myth' of the Silk Road - by Dan Howard - 03-13-2017, 12:03 AM
RE: The 'Myth' of the Silk Road - by Alanus - 03-13-2017, 05:00 AM
RE: The 'Myth' of the Silk Road - by Nathan Ross - 03-13-2017, 12:28 PM
RE: The 'Myth' of the Silk Road - by Michael Kerr - 03-13-2017, 03:16 PM
RE: The 'Myth' of the Silk Road - by Nathan Ross - 03-13-2017, 07:26 PM
RE: The 'Myth' of the Silk Road - by Alanus - 03-13-2017, 09:00 PM
RE: The 'Myth' of the Silk Road - by Nathan Ross - 03-13-2017, 09:32 PM
RE: The 'Myth' of the Silk Road - by Michael Kerr - 03-14-2017, 03:59 AM
RE: The 'Myth' of the Silk Road - by Nathan Ross - 03-14-2017, 12:21 PM
RE: The 'Myth' of the Silk Road - by Michael Kerr - 03-28-2017, 04:07 AM
RE: The 'Myth' of the Silk Road - by Nathan Ross - 03-28-2017, 08:14 PM
RE: The 'Myth' of the Silk Road - by Alanus - 03-29-2017, 03:47 PM
RE: The 'Myth' of the Silk Road - by Bryan - 03-29-2017, 05:13 PM
RE: The 'Myth' of the Silk Road - by Alanus - 03-29-2017, 07:37 PM
RE: The 'Myth' of the Silk Road - by Bryan - 03-30-2017, 02:51 PM
RE: The 'Myth' of the Silk Road - by Nathan Ross - 03-31-2017, 12:04 AM
RE: The 'Myth' of the Silk Road - by Michael Kerr - 03-30-2017, 10:16 AM
RE: The 'Myth' of the Silk Road - by Alanus - 03-30-2017, 10:39 PM
RE: The 'Myth' of the Silk Road - by Michael Kerr - 03-31-2017, 12:31 AM
RE: The 'Myth' of the Silk Road - by Michael Kerr - 04-04-2017, 04:52 PM
RE: The 'Myth' of the Silk Road - by Michael Kerr - 04-13-2017, 03:47 PM
RE: The 'Myth' of the Silk Road - by Nathan Ross - 04-15-2017, 06:38 PM
RE: The 'Myth' of the Silk Road - by Michael Kerr - 04-16-2017, 01:09 PM
RE: The 'Myth' of the Silk Road - by Nathan Ross - 06-25-2017, 06:44 PM
RE: The 'Myth' of the Silk Road - by Mikeh55 - 06-28-2017, 05:17 PM
RE: The 'Myth' of the Silk Road - by Michael Kerr - 06-28-2017, 05:39 PM
RE: The 'Myth' of the Silk Road - by Nathan Ross - 06-28-2017, 11:00 PM
RE: The 'Myth' of the Silk Road - by Michael Kerr - 06-30-2017, 05:45 PM
RE: The 'Myth' of the Silk Road - by Robert - 07-14-2017, 11:09 AM

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