Journey down the Old Silk Road
****This group is currently suspended, until the Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.****
On March 18th 2020 the group reaches the end of the long and fascinating Silk Road, and after this meeting takes a break before the next journey through time, history and culture. Thanks to all who have attended and contributed over the 5000 miles, and special thanks to Val Moreland for creating and inspiring the travelling group. Below she summarizes the journey.
----- EAST MEETS WEST: JOURNEY DOWN THE OLD SILK ROAD
From Xi’an to Constantinople
The very name of the Old Silk Road conjures up images of exotic, often unheard of places and regions and, of course, of the exquisitely fine, much sought after Chinese silk.
Three years ago some 16 people embarked on a virtual journey down that road. The group has followed the original camel route from Xi’an via the inhospitable Taklamakan desert in China littered with the bones of travellers who got lost and died in its enormous sandy wastes; thence via northern Pakistan, to modern day Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria and finally through Turkey to Constantinope (modern day Istanbul).
Trade was the driver of these travellers. The Chinese had silk but wanted the Mongols’ fast Arabian steeds. Silk for horses were the first commodities traded on the Silk Road. Beautiful, fine but strong Chinese silk eventually reached the Romans in Constantinople who loved it, especially the ladies, until Chinese silk finally reached Rome itself and the west.
Not only silk travelled down the Silk Road, however, but other commodities and also ideas and religious beliefs, reaching from China to northern Pakistan, modern day Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria and finally through Turkey to Constantinople (modern day Istanbul). Consequently, the Silk Road became an invaluable trading route both for goods and ideas, both from east to west and west to east.
It has been a fascinating journey down the Old Silk Road, and we have learned much about the countries en route about which many of us knew little. Helping us on our way were very interesting visits to the Silk Museum and working silk factory in Macclesfield, and to Hindu and Sikh temples and a mosque.
Hopefully, one day it will be possible to travel down the Old Silk Road again, but meanwhile the road lives on as a railroad, with a proposed Chinese Belt (Rail) and Road Initiative looking towards a faster journey of just four days extending from Beijing to Barking.
The Old Silk Road was the first and possibly the most important trading and information super highway in the world, stretching from Xi’an in China to Constantinople (Istanbul in modern Turkey).
Look out for news of the next journey. The group continues......