Thursday, 23 June 2011

Long Distance Trade in the time of Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Kings

As part of the Secrets of the Silk Road Symposium on March 19, 2011, Joseph G. Manning gave the following lecture:
At the Limits: Long Distance Trade in the Time of Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Kings

This brief paper will examine the “pre-history” of the silk road. Although many histories of the silk road proper begin with the first century AD and the interaction between the Roman and Han empires, the story of the road begins earlier, and must begin with an outline of east west trading patterns in the Achaemenid Persian empire and the consequences of Alexander the Great’s campaigns in the East. This paper tells that story. We begin with the Persians and Alexander’s conquest of the Persian empire, and then continue into the second century BC, when a higher volume of trade was pulled into the Mediterranean by the demand from the great cities of Alexandria, Antioch and Rome. The story of the silk road is really about the cultural and economic impact of long-distance trade between China and the Mediterranean world, India and China via India and the Red Sea began in the second century BC.

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