Wikipedia articles of interest

i. Silk Road.

“The Silk Routes (collectively known as the “Silk Road”) were important trade routes for goods of all kinds between merchants, pilgrims, missionaries, soldiers, nomads and urban dwellers from Ancient China, Ancient India, Ancient Tibet, the Persian Empire and Mediterranean countries for almost 3,000 years.[5] It gets its name from the lucrative Chinese silk trade, which began during the Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE).

Extending 4,000 miles (6,500 km), the routes enabled traders to transport goods, slaves and luxuries such as silk, satin, hemp and other fine fabrics, musk, other perfumes, spices, medicines, jewels, glassware and even rhubarb, as well as serving as a conduit for the spread of knowledge, ideas, cultures, zoological specimens and some non-indigenous disease conditions[6] between Ancient China, Ancient India, Asia Minor and the Mediterranean. Trade on the Silk Road was a significant factor in the development of the great civilizations of China, India, Egypt, Persia, Arabia, and Rome, and in several respects helped lay the foundations for the modern world. Although the term the Silk Road implies a continuous journey, very few who traveled the route traversed it from end to end. For the most part, goods were transported by a series of agents on varying routes and were traded in the bustling markets of the oasis towns.[6] […]

By the time of Herodotus (c. 475 BCE), the Persian Royal Road ran some 2,857 km from the city of Susa on the Karun (250 km east of the Tigris) to the port of Smyrna (modern İzmir in Turkey) on the Aegean Sea.[66] It was maintained and protected by the Achaemenid Empire (c.500–330 BCE), and had postal stations and relays at regular intervals. By having fresh horses and riders ready at each relay, royal couriers could carry messages the entire distance in nine days, though normal travellers took about three months. […]

The Mongol expansion throughout the Asian continent from around 1207 to 1360 helped bring political stability and re-establish the Silk Road (via Karakorum). It also brought an end to the Islamic Caliphate’s monopoly over world trade. Since the Mongol had dominated the trade routes, it allowed more trade to come in and out of the region. Merchandise that did not seem valuable to the Mongols was often seen as very valuable by the west. As a result, the Mongol received in return a large amount of luxurious goods from the West.”

The mongol? But those were just a small group of nomadic people living around the north-western borders of China, right – how come they had such a huge influence on world trade? Well, perhaps you know but a lot of people don’t: “[The Mongol Empire] is commonly referred to as the largest contiguous empire in the history of the world. At its greatest extent it spanned 9,700 km (6,000 mi), covered an area of 24,000,000 km2 (9,300,000 sq mi),[1][2][3][4] 16% of the Earth’s total land area”.

ii. House of Medici.

iii. Rosetta Stone (this is a featured article).

“The Rosetta Stone is an ancient Egyptian granodiorite stele inscribed with a decree issued at Memphis in 196 BC on behalf of King Ptolemy V. The decree appears in three scripts: the upper text is Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, the middle portion Demotic script, and the lowest Ancient Greek. Because it presents essentially the same text in all three scripts (with some minor differences between them), it provided the key to the modern understanding of Egyptian hieroglyphs.”

iv. RNA interference (this is also a featured article).

v. Timeline of Chinese history. It wouldn’t make sense to quote from this, but don’t miss it, at least go have a look. Here’s more.

vi. Blood type.


November 29, 2011 - Posted by | Biology, Genetics, History, Language, Medicine, Wikipedia

1 Comment »

  1. I happened to know about the Mongol empire – ironically, thanks to the mostly useless education in history I received in high school. From the Wikipedia entry on Nogai Khan: “In 1277, a popular movement led Ivaylo of Bulgaria defeated the Mongols, but in 1278-79 Nogai defeated the Bulgarians and besieged Ivaylo in Silistra. Ivaylo tried to ally with Nogai, but Nogai had him murdered, and made the new Bulgarian Emperor George Terter his vassal.” This Ivaylo character is worth a look, IMHO. He was a simple swineherd who popped on the radar out of nowhere, defeated the Byzantines and the Mongols quite a few times with a ragtag peasant army, and caused quite a stir in the politics on the Balkan peninsula for a decade in the late 13th century. Making an army out of ignorant, scared, under-supplied, undisciplined peasants (always eager to abandon an army and go back to the land to plow and sow) is a feat of leadership and skill that goes under-appreciated these days. The parallels to Joan of Arc are not completely baseless, and Ivaylo was arguably more skilled politically – alliances, marriages, etc. – than the Maid of Orleans.

    Comment by Plamus | December 1, 2011 | Reply

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