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[Silk road]


INTRODUCTION      


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In the old ages, flow of goods between countries was achieved through particular trade roads. The people who controlled these roads had power and wealth, as well. Silk Road was the most important trade route which brought wealth and welfare to all countries along which it passed.

The transportation of silk, porcelain, spices, paper and gem stones from the East was provided by this trade road ranging from China to Europe. In the Middle Age, trade caravans departed from Xian ( a city in China) travelled to Kasgar, Ozbekistan; they separated in two parts at this point, the caravans following the first route were travelling to Caspian Sea via plains ofAfghanistan; the caravans following the other route arrived to Anatolia through Iran by passing over Karakurum mountains. They were travelling to Europe from Anatolia by sea or through Thrace by land.

The Seljuks, who provided a secure shipment of varied Eastern goods to Europe via Anatolia, made merchants prefer Anatolian land as a passage thanks to the measures taken by them and in this way they increased wealth of the State. Seljuks made trade aggreements with foreigners, gave them freedom of trade, and provided state insurance against burglary and all loss of damages occurred while travelling. They made the trade routes secure for merchants by struggling with bandits, raiders and pirates who bothered them. They also established a kind of “state insurance system” for the first time to stimulate commercial life. The damages of merchants, who were harmed, robbed or whose goods sank in th sea while travelling, were paid by the treasury.

Inns and caravansarays were founded on these routes and became the castles of this security system. In the cravansarays built in either Seljuks time or in Otoman time, caravans were protected by the body of troops. These were built on the Silk Road generally at a distance of not more than ten-hour walk on foot or a day’s ride away by camel. They paid attention to travel in the daytime.

The buildings made by statesmen and philantropists in Anatolain Seljuks period were called “INN”, and the ones constructed by sultans and which are greater and more noble than others were called “SULTAN INN”. They resembled castles and were closed to outer world with their thick and blind walls. These buindings included rooms for travellers, sections for resting horses and for securing goods, masjid, and fountains in addition to blacksmiths, doctors, veterinaries, coach and harness repairmen. The travelers, who had the oppotunity for eating two meals a day, taking a bath and whose animals were cared and feeded, were not charged for three days and all expenses were covered by the foundation.

These thousands-of- kilometers long caravan routes were named as the “Silk Road” in the course of time. Silk Road was not only a trade route but also transported and introduced philosophical and artistic movements as well as traditions. It created a wonderful historical and cultural wealth by conveying the traces of cultures, religions and also ethnic groups who have been living in this region for 2000 years.