(Spicery and Grocery Trades inent Times and in the Middle Ages.)

Bearbeitet v. Dr. Fr. Hoffmann.

Bearbeitet v. Dr. Fr. Hoffmann.

Druck v Rud.Loes, Leipzig

Druck v Rud.Loes, Leipzig

Owing to the rise of the Persian empire, the inland commerce of western Asia was somewhat shifted during the period from the sixth to the fourth century B. C. The old routes of traffic passing through countries controlled by the Persians were not only kept in good condition but extensions were also made. These old highways of transcontinental commerce underwent further changes at the time of the Greek conquests under Alexander the Great at the close of the fourth century B. C. Still greater, however, were the changes brought about by the migration of nations during the fourth and fifth centuries of the Christian era. Wars and other disturbances of the commercial intercourse along the old caravan routes frequently restricted traffic to the rivers and seas. Upon the re-establishment of peace, however, commerce always seems to have found its way back to the traditional caravan routes.

In the course of time, however, and especially during the sixth and seventh centuries still other changes took place. Thus, e. g. the products of the Chinese and Indian coast districts and of the Indian islands were brought in part by ship over the Bay of Bengal and by way of Ceylon to the commercial centres of the Persian gulf and the Red sea. From these they were distributed by coast-wise trade, by river navigation up the Tigris and Euphrates, or by caravans to the north and west. From the more northern Chinese and Indian districts the caravans passed through the present East-Turkestan following the older routes mentioned on p. 8 and 9 through the countries of the Oxus to the Araxes. The goods, instead of being carried by river to Phasis and the Black sea, were taken as far as Artaxata and then by caravan through Persia to the ports of Asia Minor. The old route from Kandahar along the northern border of the Iranian plateau, which likewise led through Persian territory, was also followed by caravans.

During the reign of the East Roman emperor Justinian, in the sixth century, when the world empire of the Romans was broken up by the migration of nations, Persia experienced a new rise to power under the Sassanidas. The Persians ruled the entire territory from the Caspian to the Arabian seas and from Afghanistan of to-day to Syria and Armenia. They improved the old high-ways and caravansaries, kept them in repair and promoted commerce and traffic, directing both over routes leading through their own territory. Owing to the wealth and luxury of the Roman empire, the commerce in oriental spices had risen to an unusual height. The East Roman empire which at that time was the principal western state with its capital at Constantinople, was forced by the Persians to procure such oriental goods as were not shipped by water, from and through Persia and to pay a heavy duty on them. The principal places of storage and for the collection of revenue at that time were Artaxata on the Araxes, Nisibis, south of the Tigris, and Cal-Iinicum (Rakka) on the Euphrates. To Artaxata were brought the goods from the countries of the Oxus over the Caspian sea. Those that were conveyed along the caravan routes south of the Caspian sea, and those that came from the coastlands of the Persian bay up the Tigris or Euphrates centered at Nisibis. For nearly five centuries, the aromatics of China and India, of the Malayan archipelago which came via Ceylon, and in part those of Arabia were transported over the two last-mentioned routes to the western countries. About this time also, the Levant commerce, which became so important in a future period, had its beginning.

During the life of the Persian empire (up to the middle of the seventh century A. D.) all attempts, made by Justinian and his successors, to divert the commerce from its course through Persian territory by means of marine transportation remained unsuccessful. They did not even succeed in opening up marine traffic between India and Ethiopia, because Persian merchants visited the Indian markets and persuaded the Indians and Chinese not to sell their goods to new customers. In the course of time, however, the Greeks succeeded in obtaining larger consignments by water from the ports of India and Ceylon and more particularly from the coastlands of the Arabian sea, which were rich in spices. These were delivered directly to their own ports, Kolsum, and Akabah and Berenice near the entrance to the Red sea.

About this time there existed three great caravan routes from China westward. They began in the territory of the Hoang Ho and the Yangtsekiang and passed through the Gobi desert. The northern route took its course through the oasis of Chami, then northward along the Thian-Shan mountains through the present Dsungarai, past the Balkash sea, and via Talas. It then followed the Syr-Darya river to the Aral sea and the Caspian sea.

The middle route passed to the south of the Thian-Shan mountains through the northern part of East Turkestan via Chami", Turfan, Karashar, Kutsha, and Aksu to Kashgar; thence over the Terek pass to Ferghana via Samarkand, Buchara and Merv to Persia.

From the Gobi desert, the southern route passed through the southern part of East Turkestan via Chotan and Yarkand, then over the Pamir plateau and through Afghanistan to the Punjab (India) crossing the Bamian and Gazna passes to Mul-tan. Goods intended for the west, coming via this route, were taken down the Indus river to Daybal. From this port they were shipped by sea with other goods from India and Ceylon.

During the seventh and eighth centuries A. D. the Arabs carried on an extensive marine commerce with India and China, especially in spices and aromatics. These were supplied in large quantities to the luxurious courts of the caliphs and the Byzantine emperors. The principal centres between China and Arabia were at that time on the Malay peninsula, to which were also brought the products of Java and other Sunda islands. Later on commerce concentrated itself in Kalah, a city on the east shore of the Malay peninsula. In the tenth century there existed between Kalah and Siraf, a city on the east coast of the Persian gulf, regular commercial intercourse between the Arabians and Chinese. From the northern point of Sumatra the Chinese crossed the bay of Bengal to Ceylon.