Dearing, United States
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Primary Activities: Local Culture & Cuisine
Other Activities:Hiking, Caving, museum
All roads led to Rome, but the Silk Road is singular in its historical significance. Actually a vast network of interconnected caravan
routes that stretched for over 5,000 miles, it enabled the exchange
of products and ideas between ancient China and Europe, Persia,
Egypt, India and Mesopotamia. It generated transcontinental development among the world’s cultures, engendering civilization as we
know it. The Silk Road is thus the very backbone of history.
The routes converged at great centers in China’s western region,
giving rise to fabulously diverse cities smack in the middle of
some of the world’s most inhospitable terrain. Ancient epicenters of
exchange—their heyday behind them—these oases seem locked in
amber, and offer the modern traveler an unparalleled opportunity to grasp the
movement of ideas, technologies and religions across continents throughout
the past 4,000 years.
The Chinese invention of silk was a closely guarded secret for nearly 5,000
years. A ravenous demand for this superior fabric developed in the upper
echelons of societies as far away as Rome, and the Silk Road was born.
The route also saw the exchange of jade, lapis lazuli, gold, bronze, myrrh,
spices, porcelain and weaponry. The Road also hosted the transmission of
artistic and architectural influences, Chinese technologies such as printing,
papermaking, mapmaking and the compass, and the spread of Buddhism,
Christianity and Islam.
Layer upon layer of culture and tradition—from regions far flung and
removed—are revealed in the fertile oases along the Road, a living
palimpsest of humanity’s history. Travel with us, in the footsteps of ancient
merchants and great explorers, along the greatest thoroughfare ever known.
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