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Where did the Silk Road "start"?


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#1 UltraRob

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Posted 13 February 2011 - 06:45 PM

I hope this isn't too obvious a question, but is there a place in China that's considered the "gate" to the Silk Road? A place returning Silk Road caravans would look at and go "I'm home" (or alternately "I'm leaving China"? I'm working on a story that involves the Silk Road and was wondering when my characters (Tang Dynasty, 680 ACE) would think they'd returned to China.

Thanks for any help,
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#2 ghostexorcist

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Posted 13 February 2011 - 07:23 PM


I hope this isn't too obvious a question, but is there a place in China that's considered the "gate" to the Silk Road? A place returning Silk Road caravans would look at and go "I'm home" (or alternately "I'm leaving China"? I'm working on a story that involves the Silk Road and was wondering when my characters (Tang Dynasty, 680 ACE) would think they'd returned to China.

Thanks for any help,
Rob

Chang'an (Xian) is generally considered to be the "end" of the Silk Road from a western perspective. Dunhuang in Gansu province was called the "Jade Gate" because it was a place that all travelers of the Silk Road had to go through. Xinjiang (Chinese Turkestan in some sources) was under Tang control, so I imagine Chinese traveling passed the military outposts in that area into "barbarian" controlled land would consider themselves leaving China.

What location are your characters heading for?

#3 UltraRob

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Posted 13 February 2011 - 09:00 PM


Chang'an (Xian) is generally considered to be the "end" of the Silk Road from a western perspective. Dunhuang in Gansu province was called the "Jade Gate" because it was a place that all travelers of the Silk Road had to go through.


Perfect! Dunhuang is exactly what I was looking for. Thanks Ghostexorcist! :-)

Xinjiang (Chinese Turkestan in some sources) was under Tang control, so I imagine Chinese traveling passed the military outposts in that area into "barbarian" controlled land would consider themselves leaving China.


Thanks for mentioning this, because of it I dug a little more and realized that the Silk Road was closed in 680 (whups!) so I'll have to shift my story back a couple years. 678 won't be a big change and still works for the story. In fact, it makes the story more interesting, as the Silk Road is about to be shut down due to invasion right around the time the characters are coming back! O_o!

What location are your characters heading for?


It's a merchant caravan traveling from Damascus to YangZhou.

Thanks again!
Rob

#4 JohnD

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Posted 14 February 2011 - 01:21 AM

As usual, Ghostexorcist speaks the truth. I'll just add that for a great book on the Silk Road and its history, check out Silk Road: Monks, Warriors, and Merchants.
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#5 ghostexorcist

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Posted 14 February 2011 - 10:18 AM

It's a merchant caravan traveling from Damascus to YangZhou.


Happy to help. I've read a great deal on it in my spare time, and I'm currently taking a university class on the subject. It's called "China’s Cross-Cultural Encounters along the Silk Road before 1600." We just covered the Han period. I believe we are moving onto the Tang period next. I am interested primarily in the Song dynasty.

Yangzhou was an active sea port for centuries. Considering your group is leaving from Damascus, they could easily travel down to the Red Sea or the Persian Gulf and take a vessel to China. It is much faster than land travel. If you are looking to detail the hardships travelers brave just to make it to China, ships were often attacked by pirates, capsized, or were dashed to bits if they got too close to rough coastlines near various countries. (Because of this, most merchants shipped their goods in more than on vessel, which would guarantee that some of their products made it to the destination. Products were often wrapped in tarps of leather as a water barrier.) Of course, you can detail similar hardships on land. I can recommend some good reference material with detailed Silk Road maps if you like.

I am also writing a story about the Silk Road. My main character sails from Egypt to India. He later travels to China through the northern Silk Road route.

#6 nicopolo

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 01:55 PM

I visited Yumenguan, west of Dunhuang, and shown the last fort of China before venturing into the northern silk road. Magnificent visit.
I have taken fotos of the fort and the remains of the great walls near-by. You can see the door from which your character must have left ... I will be glad to share the pics.

#7 Loong

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Posted 01 September 2011 - 01:50 AM

Yu Men Guan is not so majestic. Jia Yu Guan still stands proudly along the route, and is the first gate along the greatwall ending at Shan Hai Guan.

By the way, I'd write the horrendous journey sitting in a bus for hours travelling along the silk road in the August heat !

Its an interesting trip, and I'd say, if you spend less than 3 months, you can't really see what's happening along the way.

#8 smith_sheng

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Posted 01 September 2011 - 07:27 AM

This 4,000-mile-long network of routes stretched westward from China across Asia's deserts and mountains ranges,through the Middle East,until it reached the Mediterranean Sea. I think it's from Han Dynasty's Changan to Roman.
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#9 nicopolo

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Posted 04 October 2011 - 05:04 AM

Yu Men Guan is not so majestic. Jia Yu Guan still stands proudly along the route, and is the first gate along the greatwall ending at Shan Hai Guan.

By the way, I'd write the horrendous journey sitting in a bus for hours travelling along the silk road in the August heat !

Its an interesting trip, and I'd say, if you spend less than 3 months, you can't really see what's happening along the way.

I agree that Yu Men Guan is in disrepair, but is the westernmost of the three you mention and has an aura about it that the other two, so touristy and well kept do not have. This is one of my reduced fotos.
Attached File  silk road small.jpg   44.83KB   1 downloads

#10 Korin

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 11:04 AM

So where did Silk Road start on the west side?


Nicholas II of Russia,


#11 shunyadragon

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Posted 05 July 2013 - 07:31 PM

What is called the 'Silk Road' originally began as the 'Jade Road' dating to the earliest Xinjiang nephrite jade in eastern China. Jade and salt were the earliest motivation for trade from this region. Nephrite from western Xinjiang was discovered in Lop Nor on the trade route dating from 1800 t0 1700 BC, and jade carvings of Xinjiang nephrite were found in Eastern China after this date. 

 

 

The Celts were early traders with China, and they settled the Tarim Basin early in history.

 

[cite=The Silk Road – Volume 6 No. 2 Winter/Spring 2009]

 

Two important archeological discoveries in the last century provided unequivocal evidence of connections across Asia from China in ancient times. One was the discovery of Chinese silk in a rich Celtic tomb of the 6th century BCE at Halstatt in Germany (Biel 1980). The other was the excavation of Chinese silk and bronze mirrors in the Scythian tombs of the Altai Mountains in southern Siberia dating from the 5th to about the 3rd century BCE (Rudenko 1957). [/cite]

 

Considering all the evidence this trade route extended from Eastern China in the Suzhou/Shanghai region to the Celtic region of Europe.at various times in the Late Neolithic and the early Bronze Age.


Edited by shunyadragon, 05 July 2013 - 07:37 PM.

Frank

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化干戈为玉帛 Turn weapons into peace and friendship with gifts of jade-silk.

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#12 mrclub

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Posted 05 July 2013 - 07:55 PM

So where did Silk Road start on the west side?

 

http://img853.images...3/6312/j8y4.png

 

Does this picture help ?

 

Well, seems that Silk Road isn't a single continuous route


Edited by mrclub, 05 July 2013 - 07:56 PM.

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#13 shunyadragon

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Posted 08 August 2013 - 02:55 PM

http://img853.images...3/6312/j8y4.png
 
Does this picture help ?
 
Well, seems that Silk Road isn't a single continuous route.

 
Correct, the Silk Road evolved from older trade routes for salt, jade and other goods. It did not begin nor end at any particular place except the Eastern most terminus is likely the Shanghai area.
 
Based on the fact that the first silk in the West was Celtic, the first western terminus was Halstatt, Austria. This trade route continues to the British Isles following the Danube and Rhine rivers. Neolithic nephrite axes made of nephrite from the Halstatt region have been found in the British Isles. The likely route of this silk was by way of the Black Sea, Caspian Sea, than Western Xinjiang, the oasis at Loulan (oldest jade from Hotian) found on the trade route), and the Jade Gate (Hongliuyuan) than to Lanzhou.
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化干戈为玉帛 Turn weapons into peace and friendship with gifts of jade-silk.

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#14 ahxiang

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Posted 08 August 2013 - 06:54 PM

What is called the 'Silk Road' originally began as the 'Jade Road' dating to the earliest Xinjiang nephrite jade in eastern China. Jade and salt were the earliest motivation for trade from this region. Nephrite from western Xinjiang was discovered in Lop Nor on the trade route dating from 1800 t0 1700 BC, and jade carvings of Xinjiang nephrite were found in Eastern China after this date. 

 

 

The Celts were early traders with China, and they settled the Tarim Basin early in history.

 

[cite=The Silk Road – Volume 6 No. 2 Winter/Spring 2009]

 

Two important archeological discoveries in the last century provided unequivocal evidence of connections across Asia from China in ancient times. One was the discovery of Chinese silk in a rich Celtic tomb of the 6th century BCE at Halstatt in Germany (Biel 1980). The other was the excavation of Chinese silk and bronze mirrors in the Scythian tombs of the Altai Mountains in southern Siberia dating from the 5th to about the 3rd century BCE (Rudenko 1957). [/cite]

 

Considering all the evidence this trade route extended from Eastern China in the Suzhou/Shanghai region to the Celtic region of Europe.at various times in the Late Neolithic and the early Bronze Age.

 

 

Now saw your dates. It did not mean much to me.

 

discovery of Chinese silk in a rich Celtic tomb of the 6th century BCE at Halstatt in Germany (Biel 1980)

 

This did not refute what I said at http://www.chinahist...ears-old/page-2, that Zhang Qian confirmed that the silk/cloth/bamboo products he spotted in today's Afghanistan came from India. Namely, no such fancy 'silk-desert' road.

 

 

the excavation of Chinese silk and bronze mirrors in the Scythian tombs of the Altai Mountains in southern Siberia dating from the 5th to about the 3rd century BCE (Rudenko 1957). [/cite]

 

This was too crude. It could be anywhere from the 5th to 3rd centuries.

 

If it means anything, it just said that the Hun-Yuezhi War and the Han-Hun War opened up the frontier. Hence the birth of the Silk Road. Note that it took the Franks (Portuguese) 1000 years to bypass the Arabs to go to India. You thought you would slip through the tribal states on this earth?

 

As to Yang Boda's craaps as to the Khotan jade trade, it was already proven non-existent as the so-called Shang tomb jades were mostly local to Nanyang, Henan, with some from Mt. Qilian, i.e., Queen Mother's jade mountain. As said before, all Chinese tomb jade articles came from their immediate jade mines around their spheres of culture. The Shang Dynasty, a very much barbarian and blood-thirsty dynasty, constantly warred with the Qiangs for hundreds of years, won't be someone you look to as a friendly trader with the west. Their tombs contain only live human sacrifice by hundreds and thousands.



#15 shunyadragon

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Posted 08 August 2013 - 07:05 PM

 

 

Now saw your dates. It did not mean much to me.

 

discovery of Chinese silk in a rich Celtic tomb of the 6th century BCE at Halstatt in Germany (Biel 1980)

 

This did not refute what I said at http://www.chinahist...ears-old/page-2, that Zhang Qian confirmed that the silk/cloth/bamboo products he spotted in today's Afghanistan came from India. Namely, no such fancy 'silk-desert' road.

 

 

the excavation of Chinese silk and bronze mirrors in the Scythian tombs of the Altai Mountains in southern Siberia dating from the 5th to about the 3rd century BCE (Rudenko 1957). [/cite]

 

This was too crude. It could be anywhere from the 5th to 3rd centuries.

 

If it means anything, it just said that the Hun-Yuezhi War and the Han-Hun War opened up the frontier. Hence the birth of the Silk Road. Note that it took the Franks (Portuguese) 1000 years to bypass the Arabs to go to India. You thought you would slip through the tribal states on this earth?

 

As to Yang Boda's craaps as to the Khotan jade trade, it was already proven non-existent as the so-called Shang tomb jades were mostly local to Nanyang, Henan, with some from Mt. Qilian, i.e., Queen Mother's jade mountain. As said before, all Chinese tomb jade articles came from their immediate jade mines around their spheres of culture. The Shang Dynasty, a very much barbarian and blood-thirsty dynasty, constantly warred with the Qiangs for hundreds of years, won't be someone you look to as a friendly trader with the west. Their tombs contain only live human sacrifice by hundreds and thousands.

Pages 197-198 of the Cambridge History of Ancient China cites research showing Shang jades were carved from nephrite from the Hotian region of Xinjiang.

 

The dates may need much to you considering the problematic nature of your post.


Edited by shunyadragon, 08 August 2013 - 07:06 PM.

Frank

Go with the flow the river knows.

化干戈为玉帛 Turn weapons into peace and friendship with gifts of jade-silk.

www.shunyadragon.com




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