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Trade, Commerce, and the State in the Roman World$
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Andrew Wilson and Alan Bowman

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198790662

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198790662.001.0001

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The Silk Road between Syria and China

The Silk Road between Syria and China

(p.443) 15 The Silk Road between Syria and China
Trade, Commerce, and the State in the Roman World

David F. Graf

Oxford University Press

This chapter provides a comprehensive overview of the archaeological and written evidence for the so-called Silk Roads and the development of trade along them between the second century BC and the end of the Han dynasty in the early second century AD. The Silk Road trade at the Chinese end originated epiphenomenally on the practice of state tribute and diplomatic embassies, as tribute in kind and diplomatic gifts were resold by their enterprising recipients. As trade developed along the routes westwards and gained its own momentum, its value was harnessed by the state in the form of heavy customs dues. Rather than a coordinated route utilized by merchants travelling the length of the terrain between China and Rome, the picture emerging is that of segmented trade involving various merchants.

Keywords:   Roman trade, Roman economy, Silk Roads, Rome and China, Sogdia, external trade

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