Alternate title: Faire des chrétiens et chercher des épices
Human beings have always moved from place to place and traded with their neighbours. Thus, through the ages, the immensity of Eurasia was crisscrossed with communication routes which gradually linked up to form what are known today as the Silk Roads. Maritime Routes or Spice Routes, linking East and West by sea were also developed.
These vast networks carried more than just merchandise and precious commodities: the constant movement and mixing of populations also brought about the transmission of knowledge, ideas, cultures and beliefs, which had a profound impact on the history and civilization of the Eurasian peoples. Many travellers ventured on to the Silk Roads drawn by the attractions of trade, adventure and also knowledge and, in the nineteenth century, by new archaeological discoveries.
Nevertheless, these ancient roads, used for thousands of years and considered to have been 'opened up' by the Chinese General Zhang Qian in the second century BC, had no particular name. 'Silk Road' is a relatively recent designation dating from the mid-nineteenth century when the German geologist, Baron Ferdinand von Richthofen, named the trade and communication network Die Seidenstrasse (the Silk Road). The term, also used in the plural, has remained to stir our imagination with its evocative mystery.
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