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Routes division

07-16-2009 17:12 BJT

Continental Routes

As it extends westwards from the ancient commercial centers of China, the overland, intercontinental Silk Road divides into the northern and southern routes bypassing the Taklamakan Desert and Lop Nur.

The northern route started at Chang'an (now called Xi'an), the capital of the ancient Chinese Empire, which, in the Later Han, was moved further east to Luoyang. The route was defined about the 1st Century BCE as Han Wudi put an end to harassment by nomadic tribes.

The route travels northwest through the Chinese province of Gansu from Shaanxi Province, and splits into three further routes, two of them following the mountain ranges to the north and south of the Taklamakan Desert to rejoin at Kashgar; and the other going north of the Tian Shan mountains through Turfan, Talgar and Almaty (in what is now southeast Kazakhstan).

The southern route is mainly a single route running from China through northern India, the Turkestan–Khorasan region, Mesopotamia, and into Anatolia, with southward spurs enabling the journey to be completed by sea from various points. It starts out south through the Sichuan Basin in China.

Crossing the high mountains into northeast India, probably via the Ancient tea route, it continues west along the Brahmaputra and Ganges river plains, possibly joining the Grand Trunk Road west of Varanasi. Then it passes through northern Pakistan, over the Hindu Kush mountains, and into Afghanistan, rejoining the northern route briefly near Merv.

From there it follows a nearly straight line west through mountainous northern Iran and the northern tip of the Syrian Desert to the Levant, where Mediterranean trading ships plied regular routes to Italy, and land routes went either north through Anatolia or south to North Africa.

Sea routes

As much as fourteen hundred years ago, during China's Eastern Han Dynasty, a sea route, although not part of the formal Silk 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 kingdom of Axum and eventual Roman ports. From ports on the Red Sea goods, including silks, were transported overland to the Nile and then to Alexandria from where they were shipped to Rome, Constantinople and other Mediterranean ports.

Editor:Zheng Limin |Source: CCTV.com

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