The Silk Roads stretched across Eurasia, connecting East and West for centuries. At its height, the network of trade routes enabled merchants to travel from China to the Mediterranean Sea, carrying with them high-value commercial goods, the exchange of which encouraged urban growth and prosperity. We examine the extent to which urban centers thrived or withered as a function of shocks to trade routes, particularly political fragmentation along natural travel paths. We find that political fragmentation along the roads to Aleppo and historic Chang'an — major terminus locations for cross-regional trade—damaged city growth. These conclusions contribute to our understanding of how a premodern international system operated through an examination of exchange between the two most developed world regions of the medieval and early modern periods, China and the Muslim East.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Political Science and International Relations