Silk Money from the Silk Road

From cowrie shells; and iron, copper and silver coins; to various kinds of paper, many different materials have been used by merchants and customers as credit or legal tender. Bolts of silk measuring roughly 22 inches wide and 41 feet long were also used as a form of currency by the Chinese, especially in foreign trade or as gifts to foreign lands. The silk used … Read more

Silk Road Resource #1 – The Yale Silk Road Database

I’ve sometimes wished that I had gone to Yale. I’ve wondered if my life would be different had I studied there? Where might I be standing now if I had applied? Given my natural inclinations for dogged research, I might have become an archivist working with rare books and tablets or I might have become a preparator who restores and studies precious artifacts . . … Read more

Africa on the Silk Road

The Dark Continent, the Birthplace of Humanity . . . Africa. All of the lands south and west of the Kingdom of Egypt have for far too long been lumped into one cultural unit by westerners, when in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Africa is not one mysterious, impenetrable land as the legacy of the nineteenth Century European explorers suggests, it is … Read more

The Jews of the Great Silk Road

In previous posts I’ve extolled the virtues of Arab traders in keeping the engine of global commerce and subsequent cultural exchange alive along the Silk Road. Although the Arabs were indeed an important part of trade along the Silk Road, many other nationalities and ethnicities were as well. There were Chinese, of course, Greeks, especially along the maritime trade routes, Europeans, and Jewish merchants situated … Read more

The Silk Road

Several readers have commented that they have been surprised at all of the countries that I’ve included in the Silk Road Gourmet and in the blog. Being used to only considering the northern land route from Xi’an to the Caucasus as the Silk Road, some folks are amazed to learn of the many other land and sea routes that actually networked to move goods around … Read more