Estimated 500 BC - 14Th Century Emergence Maritime Trading Routes
This page was last updated on: October 11, 2017
This page was last updated on: October 11, 2017
From the Warring States Period through the Ch'In Dynasty (221 BC - 206 BC) :
10Th Century BC: King Mu (Reign 976 BC to c.922 BC) of the early Zhou Dynasty (1122 BC to 256 BC) is the Chinese person known to have traveled on Silk Road. King Mu of Zhou is counted among the most succesful of Zhou Rulers and during his Reign period the surface area of the Zhou State reached its largest size, expanding the territories from the Lower reaches of the Yellow River (Huang He) far into the West and South. According to record, during his reign period the King traveled some 90.000 kilometers, reaching the Kunlun Mountains (Kunlun Shan) in far Western China.
613 B.C.: First (preserved) record of the sighting of a comet by humanity is made in China, as recorded in the "Spring and Autumn Annals" of the State of Lu which was written in Warring States Period (475 BC - 221 AD) of the Zhou Dynasty).
563 B.C. : The Regions of North India or the City of Lumbini in Nepal (depending on versions) see the Birth of Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम बुद्ध; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama), also simply known as the Buddha. He was raised as a Prince in Kapilavastu Kingdom but would go on to be the founder a major line of phylosophy which would come to pervade large parts of Asia in the centuries and millenia to come.
551 B.C. - But a decade after the birth of the Great Sage and person today identified as the Guatama Buddha, the Chinese Province of Shandong sees the birth of the baby K'Ung-Fu-Tzu, who in later life become the Great Sage identified in the west as Confucius, the philosopher and teacher who's idea's and ideals would become the cornerstones of Chinese traditional thought and social arrangements.
The Western and Eastern Han Dynasties (206 BC - 220 AD) :
206 BC - 220 AD: After abrief but significant existence, the unified "Chinese Nation" established by the 1st Qin Emperor splits apart in its many territories which however are again united under the Han Dynasty. Subsequently, the Han Chinese make contact with Central Asia and through it with the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Chinese open the Silk Road and soon they hear of the city of Alexandria, the Roman Empire and many other wonders of the world.
325 BC: Probable year of the founding of the ancient city of Uch (Today: Uch Sharif (Urdu: اوچ شریف; "Noble Uch"), Punjab Province, Pakistan) by Alexander the Great. Alexander founded the city as yet another city named Alexandria and it was on the Indus River (Greek: Ἀλεξάνδρεια ἡ ἐν Ἰνδῷ). The city was located at the confluence of the Punjab's rivers (Chenab and Sutlej) with the Indus and represents the farthest point of the great continental conquest of Alexander and his Armies. Some historians believe that Uch predates the advent of Bikramjit, when Jains and Buddhists ruled over the area, and that Mithankot or Chacharan Sharif was the true settlement of Alexandria.
325 BC: Palmyra and Parthia reconquer Persia.
280 BC: The Powerful and well organized State of Qin starts its expansion beyond its base regions along the Hexi Corridor, in current day Gansu Province and Ningxia. In 280 BC it defeats the once powerfulState of Wei in central China gaining considerable territory including the city of Luoyang (in current day Henan Province).
260 BC: Qin forces scored a major Victory over Zhao at Gao Ping in current day Shanxi Province.
259 BC: Birth of Chao Cheng (Life: 259 BC - 210 BC), better known as Qin Shi Huangdi, the first man to unite all of the (Han) Chinese cultural realm into one giant country and Empire.
246 BC: The Young Chao Cheng is crowned King of the State of Qin, although at a young age he did not reign with full powers until disposing of his regent Lu Pu-Wei in the year 238 BC.
239 BC: A bright celestial object appears in the heavens above earth. As it brightens into a broom star (comet), details of its passing are recorded by Chinese astromers and in Mesopotamia (Iraq) as well. In primitive civilizations across the globe the appearance of this unusual passing star was seen and interpreted with considerable fright. In China, some took it as a sign of a great new era to come.
Some two millennia later on, humanity will find that it was the earliest recorded passing of the Comet of Halley, so named in the year 1705 AD, when it was recognized that the comet was in fact a regularly returning visitor to the inner solar system.
238 BC: King Chao Cheng gains full powers and control over the State of Qin. In the years that follow Qin military campaigns subdue all of the other Warring States, which are Chu, Zhao and Qi.
221 BC: Chao Cheng, the King of Qin completes his conquest uniting all of the Chinese cultural realm under his rule in his domain. He takes the Title: Qin Shi Huangdi, which translates as First Emperor of Qin.
The new Emperor selects the former Capital of Zhou, the city of Chang'An (current day Xi'An, the Capital of Shaanxi Province), soon to become the starting point of the Silk Road in China, as his Capital. A Grandiose new city arises in the Wei River valley.
At the same time, the name of the State of Qin so is lent to the Qin Empire, which later (over time) becomes China.
During his subsequent reign period, the now legendary Emperor of Qing makes his best efforts to create a unified State and Nation out of the shards he has picked together. For this purpose, weights and measures,
legal arrangements and so on are made uniform throughout the Qin Empire.
and progressive fall of the Cities and Provinces of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. The Persian Empire King Darius dies but the conquest continues eastward as far Bactria and Sogdiana territories due west of the Pamir Mountains. Around 330 BC Alexander (Dhu'L Qarneyn) allegedly builds the "Copper Gate" (according to the Quran) in order to protect his subjects from maurauding nomadic tribes Gog and Magog 'from the north'.
In 329 B.C. the Greek Armies cross the Oxus River into what is then identified as Sogdiana. Subsequently Greeks take the ancient cities of Samarkand (At the time known as Maracanda) and Bukhara beyond (in current day Uzbekistan). As written archeological evidence has revealed, the city received one Orepius as ruler, as the sources say "not from ancestors, but as a gift of Alexander". Subsequently the city of Samarkand flourished under the Hellenistic influence. Although the Greek Rule would slip after the death of Alexander, the Hellenistic influence in various art forms would spread along the Silk Road among things ending up as far East as the border of terrories then bordering on the Han Chinese Realm.
Crossing over the Jaxartes River Alexander's armies subsequently reach the northern regions of current day Tajikistan where they found a now lost city near Khujand (Also: Khojend or Khudzhand) today still the 2nd largest city within Tajikistan.
Bactria and Sogdiana become part of the Macedonian Empire of Alexander the Great by 326 BC, establishing a first European Presence on the Central Asian paths of the Silk Road.
The Armies of Alexander move over the Hindu Kush into (Pakistan and) India afterwards. The Empire disintegrates after the Death of Alexander in 323 BC.
Although Hellenistic culture was only created and enjoyed by the upper-class societies of the
500 BC : Ancient Greek Society becomes familiar with the knowledge of Silk and Silk Cloth. The Silk must have been traded from China along various long land-bound and overseas trade routes.
Not much later the Roman Empire starts its ascent. In Rome Silk Robes worn become a sign of the Aristrocracy. At Times, the prices of a Silk soar, making Silk more valuable than Gold in the Roman realms (300 BC to 300 AD).
Between the years 500 B.C. and 476 B.C. the Xiong Nu (in the west identified as ancestors of The Huns) arise on the steppes of North Eastern Asia. Gaining territory on neighboring tribes, they move from East to West across the continent pushing other population groups before their violent advance. In the process Scythian Tribes (in China identified as Yue Zhi) are driven along the age old EurAsian migration routes eventually finding their way into today's Russia, and north and eastern Europe.
The Cimmerians, who are in their turn displaced by the flood of Scythians marching West are likewise pushed into European Territories.
500 B.C. and 476 B.C. - Around the year 500 Persian naval forces defeat Ionian Greek "rebels" in a major naval confrontation off the island of Lade (Port of Miletus in Ionia). As a result, the city of Miletus, considered the wealthiest and greatest city of Greek Civilization was forced to give up its strive for what amounted to Independence. After the city of Miletus has surrendered, it is sacked and raised to the ground. Its citizenry is mass deported into the Persian Empire along pathways that are part of what is yet to become the Silk Road. Some Ionian Greeks travel the EurAsian overland trade routes Eastward as far as Bactria (Balkh) in Afghanistan, where their presence is recorded in the year 494 B.C.
Around 450 B.C. the Persian Harp, originally a Middle Eastern instrument and invention was in use in what today is China. Several other imported instruments such as drums and symbals were also introduced into the Chinese and East Asian Cultural Realm in this period.
483 B.C. : Commonly held as The Year of Death of "The Buddha", i.e. Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha.
In the year 444 B.C. Chinese astronomers succesfully calculated the length of the Solar year, which was identified as 365. 25 days.
400 B.C. the invention efficient bellows propels Chinese metal working into a new phase. The Chinese move directly from bronze casting to Iron Casting skipping a period of forging iron by hand. The resulting hard iron yields the Chinese civilization an important military advantage, among things over ever present northern enemies. After the year 400 B.C. cast iron tools as well as military weapons are widely made and used. Soon standardization of forged metal parts allows for the invention of the crossbow, mass production of iron arrow heads and bolts, swords, axes, speerss and the like. Other uses are found in equipment for horse riding and the construction of carts and battle wagons which previously had copper and bronze (axle) parts.
Map of the Modern Silk Road, connecting Istanbul in Turkey via highways, roads and railways to Beijing in the Far East. Travel beyond that point is possible to Vladivostok, Dalian and Dandong in Liaoning Province, or Pyongyang in North Korea, DPRK.
On the Western side, Istanbul connects via former Yugoslavia to the European Railway network.
Overview of the Empire founded by Alexander the Great of Macedon (336 BC - 323 BC).
333 BC: Alexander the Great of Macedon (Macedonia) (Life 356 BC – 323 BC) crosses into Asia Minor with an army of 40.000 Men and allied Tribes starting a conquest that leads to the rapid
Around 400 B.C. : Event of the First ever Buddhist Grand Council, organized (according to most scholars) in or around the year 400 B.C. by king Ajatasatru with the monk Mahakasyapa presiding over procedures. The main goal of the event was to preserve the teachings and the remaining relics of the Buddha, as well as organize basic points of the Philosophy.
Between 400 B.C. and 376 B.C. - As the Xiong-Nu (ancestors of the Huns) began to gain strength on the northern plains of today's Mongolia, Tuva and Siberia and move westward into Central Asia they begin to make raids southward plundering the settlements of the Chinese Civilization. As a response, several of the Chinese States (emerged from the fallen Zhou Dynasty (1121 B.C. - (nominally:) 255 B.C.) in current day north China begin to start the building of Walls situated in strategic places.
It is in effect the beginning of the first ever Great Wall of China. Although none of these Walls were yet connected, or in any way resembled the Great Wall of China of the Ming Dynasty as tourists know it today, these first walls layed the foundation for a cultural tradition followed long there after. In addition, roughly, it can be said that the early defensive walls that emerged during the Warring States Period of China were taken as the foundation for the later legendary Great Wall of China built in the Era of the Qin Emperor, starting in the years 221 and 220 B.C..
All early walls were constructed out of mud and earth, and other readily available local materials.
At the same time as propping up defenses and building walls, diplomatic charm offenses were launched across the northern borders attempting to establish peace and stave off nomadic attacks in return for gifted Chinese Goods and the inter-marriage of Chinese women with barbarian men.
China and the Silk Road (2) From Warring States to Qin Dynasty (1000 BC - 206 BC)
532 B.C. - Centuries before the official opening of the Silk Road during the Han Dynasty Era, Chinese astronomers identify a new star, which has appeared in the Constellation Aquirius.
Schematic Map of the Main Ducal States during the Warring States Period. As depicted several States have built defensive walls along borders, the later foundations of the Qin Dynasty Great Wall of China (Wanli Chang Cheng)..
Between 400 B.C. and 100 B.C. several documents "Psalms", "Proverbs" and "Joel" that are part of the "Old Testament" were written in territories near the Mediteranean Sea, laying the earliest foundations for Judaism and the later religion of Christianity. The documents known as Proverbs and Joel are taken to have been written between 400 and 300 .C. whereas the document identified as Psalms can only be dated between the year 400 and 100 Before Christ.
Winter 373 BC / 372 BC: The great Greek Philosopher Aristotle (as recorded in his book "Meteorologica") witnesses the passing of a comet in the heavens above the earth. In Europe, this becomes the first known and recorded sighting of a comet in world history. Aristotle wrote that the comets tail was visible arcing a full one third of sky. If so, this would suggest that this was a comet which came close very close to the sun and was a massive object thus allowing it spew out an abundant "coma" (cloud) of gas and debris. Notably, in his book Aristotle also linked the comet appearance with a subsequent earthquake which apparently caused a devastating tidal wave afterwards.
Later European sources such as Diodurus of Sicily (writing 2 centuries later) hold that the light of the celestial object was as bright as to cast shadows alike the moon, and that at a certain point the comet had broken into "planets" (pieces) suggesting that the comet had exploded nearing the sun creating two (main) chuncks of still a considerable size.
(In modern times it is believed that possibly, this comet later gave rise to the spectacular year 1680 and year 1844 Great Comets.)
As the world will find out millennia later, through the 1973 archeological discovery of books places inside a tomb in an Imperial Mausoleum near Changsha, today Capital of Hunan Province, in China observers had been recording the appearance of comets (broom stars) since some years prior to the 372 Comet. (Mawangdui Silk Texts of the western Han Dynasty, produced aprox. 173 B.C., one text listing 29 comets which appeared over a period of 300 years prior to 173 BC)(in fact Chinese records have been shown to go back as far as the year 613 B.C. and possibly even as far as 1460 B.C.).
mid 2nd c. BC: Tokhari people (Tocharians) migrated from Bulunghir-gol to Khotan where they establish a thriving civilization which knows weaving techniques, medicinal use of marihuana, trading and has a ritual burial culture.
206 BC: Seleucid Forces of King Antiochus (III) the Great attacked and defeated the forces of Euthydemus of Bactria, however not taking formal possesion of that country and Nation. Euthydemus remains in position as King of Bactria.
A stunning archeological recovery found in a tomb uncovered along the pathways of the Silk Road in the regions of current day Inner Mongolia and Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region of the Peoples Republic. This mystifying object clearly carries all signs of the Hellenistic Culture associated with the brief but enormous Empire of Alexander the Great of Macedon (336 BC - 323 BC) which spanned the southern Silk Road regions.
Hellenistic cities. Those local people who lived in the remote and extensive countryside and mountains likely still kept their indigenous cultural tradition to a large extent. Nevertheless, Hellenistic culture, in philosophy and art was shared with other societies set along the Central Asian trading routes.
Most of all historic documentary information on the Hellenistic Civilization within China comes via the Missions of Zhang Qiang during the Han Dynasty (漢代 - 206 B.C. - 221 A.D.). The earliest Chinese records reveal several traits of Hellenistic Culture as found in the far west and records them the chapters about the Western Regions in the “Early Four Historical Books” (“前四史”) written in the Han Era.
A notable object in the case of the spread of Hellenistic Culture along the Silk Road during and after the Reign of Alexander the Great is a mysterious silver-gilt ewer excavated in the year 1983 from the tomb of one Li Xian, senior general and senior governor of the Northern Zhou Dynasty (557 A.D. - 581 A.D - I.e. intermission of Tang Dynasty). It is the most precious object recovered from the tomb situated in the Guyuan Prefecture of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region as it has obvious connections with both Greco-Roman and Iranian metalwork. Although supposedly finding its way into the Chinese Cultural realm and territories only later, the object has features that may date as far back as the period 138 AD - 161 AD during the Han Dynasty. Its ultimate origins are as yet unknown.
In 210 BC: Qin Dynasty army engineers build the first version of the Great Wall of China, a continuous mud wall, allegedly spanning the northern borders with Xiong-Nu territory between Gansu Province in the west and the Korean Peninsula in the east. Although none of the mud wall built around the year 210 BC is in existence today and all of it was supposedly already severly eroded by the time of the fall of the Qin Dynasty in 206 BC, over recent decades Chinese archeologists have been able to identify various locations where remains of this first Great Wall of China can be identified. Among the very few identifyable remains today the most famous section is the Taipingzhai Section in the north of Ji County of Tianjin City Prefecture, whereas much further to the west near Hohhot and Baotou within Inner Mongolia some other stone sections can be identified. Yet, other remains of the Great Wall of Qin have been identified in the vicinity of Guyuan and near Yanchi County Town of Wuzhong Prefecture, both in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. In the latter location, an additional older wall has been proven to have run outside of the more well known Great Wall of China of the Ming Dynasty which ran through the same regions but stood more to the south. Infra-red imagery and archeological excavations have revealed that the Qin Great
Map with Schematic Outlines of the various versions of the Great Wall of China built during successive Chinese Dynastic periods. The supposed trajectory of the Great Wall completed in the year 210 BC in the Qin Era is most clearly outlined in blue. As one can make out, this Mud Wall is gathered to have run between Anxi in the Hexi Corridor of Gansu Province in China's far west and to have terminated east of Pyongyang, the current day Capital of North Korea (D.P.R.K.).
Wall ran from east to west through the desert near Beidachi (in the Ordos Prefecture of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region). New discoveries are infrequently made but scientists and historians are attempting to find and catalog additional Qin Era wall sections.