Sunday 17 December 2017 ,
Sunday 17 December 2017 ,
Latest News
  • Nation paying homage to Liberation War martyrs
  • US to sanction at least one person for Myanmar violence
  • Fisheries Minister Muhammed Sayedul Hoque passes away
  • Next general polls in December 2018: Quader
  • Rahul Gandhi takes over as Congress president
23 November, 2017 02:09:41 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 23 November, 2017 02:16:53 AM
Print

Historical significance of trade routes

By far the easiest method of transporting goods started through water ways around 3000-1000 BC, particularly in an era when towns and villages were linked by footpaths rather than roads
Masihul Huq Chowdhury
Historical significance of trade routes

When people first settled down into larger towns in Mesopotamia and Egypt, self-sufficiency – the idea that one had to produce absolutely everything that one wanted or needed – started to fade. A farmer could by then trade grain for meat, or milk for a pot, at the local market, which was seldom too far away. Cities started to work the same way, realising that they could acquire goods they didn't have at hand from other cities far away, where the climate and natural resources produced different things. This longer-distance trade was slow and often dangerous, but was lucrative for the middlemen willing to make the journey.The first long-distance trade occurred between Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley in around 3000 BC, historians believe. Long-distance trade in these early times was limited almost exclusively to luxury goods like spices, textiles and precious metals. Cities that were rich in these commodities became financially rich, too, satiating the appetites of other surrounding regions for jewellery, fancy robes and imported delicacies. By the second millennium BC, former backwater island Cyprus had become a major Mediterranean player by ferrying its vast copper resources to the Near East and Egypt, regions wealthy due to their own natural resources such as papyrus and wool. Phoenicia, famous for its seafaring expertise, hawked its valuable cedar wood and linen dyes all over the Mediterranean. China prospered by trading jade, spices and later, silk. Britain shared its abundance of tin. The domestication of camels around 1000 BC helped encourage trade routes over land, called caravans which linked India with the Mediterranean. Like an ancient version of the Wild West frontier, towns began sprouting up like never before anywhere that a pit-stop or caravan-to-ship port was necessary.

By far the easiest method of transporting goods started through water ways around 3000-1000 BC, particularly in an era when towns and villages were linked by footpaths rather than roads. The first extensive trade routes are up and down the great rivers which become the backbones of early civilizations - the Nile, the Tigris and Euphrates, the Indus and the Yellow River.  As boats become sturdier, coastal trade extends human contact and promotes wealth. The eastern Mediterranean is the first region to develop extensive maritime trade, first between Egypt and Minoan Crete and then - in the ships of the intrepid Phoenicians - westwards through the chain of Mediterranean islands and along the north African coast. Then around 1000 BC, in the parched regions of north Africa and Asia, two different species of camel became the most important beasts of burden - the single-humped Arabian camel (in north Africa, the Middle East, India) and the double-humped Bactrian camel (central Asia, Mongolia). Both of these species are well adapted to desert conditions. They can derive water, when none is available elsewhere, from the fat stored in their humps.  It is probable that they were first domesticated in Arabia. By about 1000 BC caravans of camels were used to bring in precious goods up the west coast of Arabia, linking India with Egypt, Phoenicia and Mesopotamia.

The following trade routes were the major ones which were used by the merchants during the evolution.

 The Silk Road or Silk Route is the most famous ancient trade route, linking the major ancient civilisations of China and the Roman Empire. Silk was traded from China to the Roman empire starting in the first century BCE, in exchange for wool, silver, and gold coming from Europe. Alongside spreading trade, the Silk Road also became a vital route for the spread of knowledge, technology, religion, and the arts, with many trading centers along the route—such as Samarkand in modern-day Uzbekistan—also becoming important centers of intellectual exchange.The Silk Road originated in Xi’an in China and travelled alongside the Great Wall of China before crossing the Pamir Mountains into Afghanistan and on to the Levant, where goods were loaded on to ships destined for Mediterranean ports. It was rare for tradespeople to travel the full 4000 miles, and so most plied their trade on only sections of the route. As the Roman Empire crumbled in the fourth century CE, the Silk Road became unsafe and fell out of use until the 13th century, when it was revived under the Mongols. Italian explorer Marco Polo followed the Silk Road during the 13th century, becoming one of the first Europeans to visit

The Spice Route was predominantly were maritime routes linking the East to the West. Pepper, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg were all hugely sought-after commodities in Europe, but before the 15th century access to trade with the East was controlled by North African and Arab middlemen, making such spices extremely costly and rare.

The Incense Route developed to transport frankincense and myrrh, which are only found in the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula (modern Yemen and Oman). Frankincense and myrrh are both derived from tree sap that is dried in the sun; these nuggets of sap can then be burned as incense or used as perfume, and were also popular in burial rituals to aid embalming. The camel was domesticated around 1000 BCE and this development allowed the Arabians to begin to transport their valuable incense to the Mediterranean, an important trade hub.

4. Amber Route :

Archaeological evidence reveals that amber was traded as early as 3000 BC, when amber beads from the Baltic having reached as far as Egypt. An Amber road  linking the Baltic with the rest of Europe was developed by the Romans, who valued the stone as both a decorative item and for medicinal purposes. Large deposits of amber are found under the Baltic Sea, formed millions of years ago when forests covered the area. The amber washes ashore after storms, and can be harvested from the beaches across the Baltic, which is how many local amber traders built their business.

This ancient route winds precipitously for over 6000 miles, through the Hengduan Mountains—a major tea-producing area of China—through Tibet and on to India. The road also crosses numerous rivers, making it one of the most dangerous trade routes.  

6. Salt Route:

Salt has long been a precious commodity—it’s been used to flavor and preserve food, and as an antiseptic, for example. But easily harvested salt was a scarce mineral in antiquity, and so areas rich in salt became important trading centers. Routes connecting these centers to other settlements also became commonplace. Of the many such routes that sprang up, one of the most famous was the Roman via Salaria (Salt Route), which ran from Ostia, near Rome, across Italy to the Adriatic coast. So precious was salt that it made up a portion of a Roman soldier’s pay, and it is from this that we get the word salary (from the Latin for salt, sal) and the phrase “Not worth his salt”—the latter because a soldier’s salt pay would be docked if he did not work hard. Another important salt route across Europe was the Old Salt Road, which ran 62 miles from Lüneburg in northern Germany, which was one of the most plentiful salt sources in northern Europe, to Lübeck on the north German coast. During the Middle Ages this route became vital for providing salt for the fishing fleets that left Germany for Scandinavia, as the salt was used to preserve the precious herring catch. It would take a cart delivering salt some 20 days to traverse the Old Salt Road, and many towns along the way grew wealthy by levying taxes and duties on wagons as they passed through.

The Trans-Saharan Trade Route from North Africa to West Africa was actually made up of a number of routes, providing a criss-cross of trading links across the vast expanse of desert. These trade routes first emerged in the fourth century CE, and by the 11th century caravans made up of over a thousand camels would carry goods across the Sahara. Gold, slaves, salt, and cloth were the most important commodities on this route, but many other objects also found their way into the caravans, from ostrich feathers to European goods such as guns. The trade route was instrumental in the spread of Islam  from the Berbers in North Africa into West Africa, and with Islam came Arabic knowledge, education, and language.

The Tin Route was a major Bronze Age to Iron Age trade route that provided early settlements with access to a vital ingredient for metal-making—tin. Copper must be alloyed with tin to make bronze, an advance that occurred in the Near East around 2800 BCE and created a stronger, better metal than the type used previously. This new technology put tin much in demand, and as it is not found in many places, it became an important item for trade.

 One such tin Route flourished in the first millennium BCE from the tin mines in Cornwall in the far southwest of Britain, over the sea to France, and then down to Greece and beyond. Evidence for this route is provided by the many hillforts that sprung up along the way as trading posts.

The writer, a banker by profession, has worked both in local and overseas market with various foreign and local banks in different positions

IK

 

 

Comments

Poll
Today's Question »
Do you think the authorities involved should be held accountable for failing to work unitedly although PM wants their concerted efforts to eliminate traffic jam?
 Yes
 No
 No Comment
Yes 75.0%
No 25.0%
No Comment 0.0%
Video

Copyright © All right reserved.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Disclaimer & Privacy Policy
....................................................
About Us
....................................................
Contact Us
....................................................
Advertisement
....................................................
Subscription

Powered by : Frog Hosting