August 12, 2013
Camels, Commerce, and Fiber-Optic Cables
A. Demotes, Photononstop, Corbis
Imagining the ancient Silk Road conjures up visions of caravans crossing desert expanses, laden with rich goods from the East. Along with the trade in goods came the transfer of ideas. Buddhism stretched from the Indian subcontinent to China and Japan; Hellenistic and Central Asian theories of art reached previously isolated locales. Undesirable transfers (like the bubonic plague) were difficult to prevent.
The cellist Yo-Yo Ma has called the ancient Silk