The Silk Road

Unit 2: c. 1200-1450

Main Ideas:

  • Improved commercial practices → Increased the reach and volume of trade → Created new trading cities

  • Specialized in luxury goods such as silk, porcelain, and textiles

  • Mongols conquered many different cultures & were religiously tolerant → Facilitated exchange of many different cultures & religions

The Mongols & Silk Road

A Trade Route Connecting China & Europe 

Key Ideas:

  • Improved commercial practices increased the volume of trade → Led to creation of new trading cities

    • Use of credit system, caravanserai (inns), horses/camels, etc. 

    • New trading cities emerged on Silk Road such as Samarkand and Merv

  • Silk Road specialized in luxury goods

    • Goods like silk & porcelain were traded as they were expensive enough to be worth transporting on a difficult overland route (compared to a maritime route)

  • Mongols were religiously tolerant of all the cultures they conquered → Facilitated exchange of lots of goods, ideas, and cultures

    • Mongols ruled Central Asia and had control over parts of India, China, Persia, Southeast Asia, and Europe → Connected most of Eurasia through their empire

      • Pax Mongolica: Because the Mongols ruled the entire land from Europe to China, merchants could safely travel the entire Silk Road without risk

    • Buddhism spread as Buddhist merchants openly practiced their religion in trading cities

    • Gunpowder, paper, and bubonic plague spread

Goods & Ideas Exchanged:


Bubonic Plague





Samarkand, Uzbekistan, one of the largest trading cities on the Silk Road


A photo of camels transporting goods across the desert in the Silk Road