What was the Silk Road?
The Silk Road was a network of trade routes connecting China and the Far East with the Middle East and Europe. Established when the Han Dynasty in China officially opened trade with the West in 130 B.C., the Silk Road routes remained in use until 1453 A.D., when the Ottoman Empire boycotted trade with China and closed them. Although it’s been nearly 600 years since the Silk Road has been used for international trade, the routes had a lasting impact on commerce, culture and history that resonates even today.
The east-west trade routes between Greece and China began to open during the first and second centuries B.C. The Roman Empire and the Kushan Empire (which ruled territory in what is now northern India) also benefitted from the commerce created by the route along the Silk Road.
Interestingly, the ancient Greek word for China is “Seres,” which literally means “the land of silk.” However, despite this obvious link to the name, the term “Silk Road” wasn’t coined until 1877, when German geographer and historian Ferdinand von Richthofen first used it to describe the trade routes. Historians now prefer the term “Silk Routes,” which more accurately reflects the fact that there was more than one thoroughfare.
(Continue Reading from History.com)