Economy > Trade Routes

Trade Routes


Development of early routes[edit] Early development[edit] The period from the middle of the 2nd millennium BCE to the beginning of the Common Era saw societies in Western Asia, the Mediterranean, China and the Indian subcontinent develop major transportation networks for trade.[5] One of the vital instruments which facilitated long distance trade was portage and the domestication of beasts of burden.[6] Organized caravans, visible by the 2nd millennium BCE,[7] could carry goods across a large distance as fodder was mostly available along the way.[6] The domestication of camels allowed Arabian nomads to control the long distance trade in spices and silk from the Far East to the Arabian Peninsula.[8] Caravans were useful in long-distance trade largely for carrying luxury goods, the transportation of cheaper goods across large distances was not profitable for caravan operators.[9] With productive developments in iron and bronze technologies, newer trade routes—dispensing innovations of civilizations—began to rise.[10] Maritime trade[edit] Much of the Radhanites' Indian Ocean trade would have depended on coastal cargo-ships such as this dhow. Main article: Ship transport Evidence of maritime trade between civilizations dates back at least 90 millennia.[11] Navigation was known in Sumer between the 4th and the 3rd millennium BCE, and was probably known by the Indians and the Chinese people before the Sumerians.[7] The Egyptians had trade routes through the Red Sea, importing spices from the "Land of Punt" (East Africa) and from Arabia.[12] Evolution of Indian trade networks. The main map shows the routes since Mughal times, Inset A shows the major prehistorical cultural currents, B: pre-Mauryan routes, C: Mauryan routes, D: routes c. 1st century CE, and E: the "Z" shaped region of developed roads. Maritime trade began with safer coastal trade and evolved with the manipulation of the monsoon winds, soon resulting in trade crossing boundaries such as the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal.[11] South Asia had multiple maritime trade routes which connected it to Southeast Asia, thereby making the control of one route resulting in maritime monopoly difficult.[11] Indian connections to various Southeast Asian states buffered it from blockages on other routes.[11] By making use of the maritime trade routes, bulk commodity trade became possible for the Romans in the 2nd century BCE.[13] A Roman trading vessel could span the Mediterranean in a month at one-sixtieth the cost of over-land routes.[14] Visible trade routes[edit] The peninsula of Anatolia lay on the commercial land routes to Europe from Asia as well as the sea route from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea.[15] Records from the 19th century BCE attest to the existence of an Assyrian merchant colony at Kanesh in Cappadocia (now in modern Turkey).[15] Trading networks of the Old World included the Grand Trunk Road of India and the Incense Road of Arabia.[5] A transportation network consisting of hard-surfaced highways, using concrete made from volcanic ash and lime, was built by the Romans as early as 312 BCE, during the times of the Censor Appius Claudius Caecus.[16] Parts of the Mediterranean world, Roman Britain, Tigris-Euphrates river system and North Africa fell under the reach of this network at some point of their history.[16] According to Robert Allen Denemark (2000):[17] "The spread of urban trading networks, and their extension along the Persian Gulf and eastern Mediterranean, created a complex molecular structure of regional foci so that as well as the zonation of core and periphery (originally created around Mesopotamia) there was a series of interacting civilizations: Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Indus Valley; then also Syria, central Anatolia (Hittites) and the Aegean (Minoans and Mycenaeans). Beyond this was a margin which included not only temperate areas such as Europe, but the dry steppe corridor of central Asia. This was truly a world system, even though it occupied only a restricted portion of the western Old World. Whilst each civilization emphasized its ideological autonomy, all were identifiably part of a common world of interacting components." These routes - spreading religion, trade and technology - have historically been vital to the growth of urban civilization.[18] The extent of development of cities, and the level of their integration into a larger world system, has often been attributed to their position in various active transport networks.[19] Historic trade routes[edit] Combined land and waterway routes[edit] Incense Route[edit] The economy of the Kingdom of Qataban (light blue) was based on the cultivation and trade of spices and aromatics including frankincense and myrrh. These were exported to the Mediterranean, India and Abyssinia where they were greatly prized by many cultures, using camels on routes through Arabia, and to India by sea. Main article: Incense route The Incense Route served as a channel for trading of Indian, Arabian and East Asian goods.[20] The incense trade flourished from South Arabia to the Mediterranean between roughly the 3rd century BCE to the 2nd century CE.[21] This trade was crucial to the economy of Yemen and the frankincense and myrrh trees were seen as a source of wealth by the its rulers.[22] Ptolemy II Philadelphus, emperor of Ptolemaic Egypt, may have forged an alliance with the Lihyanites in order to secure the incense route at Dedan, thereby rerouting the incense trade from Dedan to the coast along the Red Sea to Egypt.[23] I. E. S. Edwards connects the Syro-Ephraimite War to the desire of the Israelites and the Aramaeans to control the northern end of the Incense route, which ran up from Southern Arabia and could be tapped by commanding Transjordan.[24] Gerrha - inhabited by Chaldean exiles from Babylon - controlled the Incense trade routes across Arabia to the Mediterranean and exercised control over the trading of aromatics to Babylon in the 1st century BCE.[25] The Nabateans exercised control over the routes along the Incense Route, and their hold was challenged - without success - by Antigonus Cyclops, emperor of Syria.[26] The Nabatean control over trade further increased and spread in many directions.[26] The replacement of Greece by the Roman empire as the administrator of the Mediterranean basin led to the resumption of direct trade with the East and the elimination of the taxes extracted previously by the middlemen of the south.[27] According to Milo Kearney (2003) "The South Arabs in protest took to pirate attacks over the Roman ships in the Gulf of Aden. In response, the Romans destroyed Aden and favored the Western Abyssinian coast of the Red Sea."[28] Indian ships sailed to Egypt as the maritime routes of Southern Asia were not under the control of a single power.[27]

Trade Routes


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