Globalization started long before cell phones. It started with Trade. Trade started with the intent urge of mankind to establish relations with fellow humans through an exchange of knowledge and wealth. These ancient routes, once the passage of prolific movement, now sit desolate, reigning in their past glory. The dust domes have settled on them, covering a hundred years of past history. But what if we told you that some of these relics of communication, history and brotherhood are still in existence? Here are 7 ancient trade routes that are still in existence.
Amber Road is an ancient trade route connecting North and South Europe. It was used extensively for the transport of Amber, a rich and economically viable commodity, dubbed ‘The gold of the north’. The earliest mentions of amber trade are in Sicily, around the Bronze Age. The Amber Road connected Italy, Greece, Syria and Egypt for over a thousand years.
Now, the Amber Road has been converted into a tourist route stretching from Kaliningrad to Latvia with various museums along the route.
The Old Silk Route is one of the most important trade routes which shaped the world as it is today. The Silk Road connected the West to the East, unlocking the unbound potential of rich spices and cloth of the East to the West. It allowed for the exchange of material as well as ideas, making it a junction for the exchange of political and economic alliances. It was in rampant use through multiple civilisations until the fall of the Mongol Empire in the 15th Century, when the route started to disintegrate because of the loss of political patronage.
Now, the President of China has introduced the plan for a New Silk Route, which takes heavy inspiration from the plans of the Silk Route.
Inca Road System
No, it’s not just a Zappa song, but an ancient Trade Route from Ecuador to Chile. It was used for a variety of reasons, from military occupations to religious travels. The road system was important for political cohesion in the pre-Columbian civilizations.
Now, the Inca road system is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. It sees a lot of tourists traversing it specially to reach Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu was the Inca Citadel, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Grand Trunk Road
The Grand Trunk Road was the link between Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent. Around 1490 miles long, it was made by the emperor Chandragupta Maurya of the Maurya Dynasty.
Currently, The Grand Trunk Road is still in use. It has been widened and is used as a national highway in India. It has also been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Via Maris was one of the most important trade routes in the Middle East. The Via Maris was often known as the International Coastal Highway. The route linked the principal roads from the Fertile Crescent to Mesopotamia from Egypt to modern-day Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria. The road ran north from Sinai through the coastal plain via the Jezreel valley, Beit Shean, and on till Damascus.
Even today, in present day Israel, the International Coastal Highway remains an important thoroughfare.
The Saharan Trade, which spanned across the north-east corners of The Sahara Desert, was an important route from the prehistoric times. It was used for the trade of gold, ivory, spices, wheat, animals and plants. It also helped in propagating culture and religion. In the 16th Century, with the invasion of Portuguese traders in Africa, Trans-Saharan trade was pushed to the background.
The African Union and the African Development Bank sponsor the Trans-Sahara Highway, which connects Algiers to Lagos through Tamanrasset and intends to boost trans-Saharan trade.
The Incense Route was a trade route for the exchange of luxury goods, spices and incense, linking the Mediterranean to the East. It served as a channel for goods like Indian spices, precious stones, pearls, ebony, silk and fine textile. It existed from the time of the Egyptian Civilisation. The rise of the Ottoman Empire in Turkey marked the decline of the Incense Route.
Currently, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Frankincense Trail in Oman is a tourist attraction.
These were some ancient trade routes that are still in existence. We love basking in history when we travel – is it not stunning to realise how many thousands of people have travelled the same way?
If you liked to read about these ancient trade routes, you will love to understand the charm behind ancient bazars.