Silk Road Trade & Travel Encyclopedia

Interesting Facts & Trivia

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37 - QUESTION:  What type of winds did sailing vessels along the spice routes depend on?

Answer:  Monsoon winds.

For more than three thousand years, the ancient world was linked by elaborate trading routes that connected the Mediterranean World with the far off lands of Asia. As caravans carried exotic goods on the Silk Road to burgeoning markets in the Roman Empire, a parallel maritime trade linked the markets of Eurasia. A complex network of sailing ships, dependent on seasonal monsoon winds and geographic factors, carried cargoes from India and Southeast Asia to ports throughout the ancient world. This early trade was conducted by intermediaries and Arab, Indian, and Malay seafarers. The demand for these fragrant spices and aromatic resins, spurred a search for routes to the mythical Golden Khersonese, Chryse ("land of gold") and to Agyre ("land of silver"). Geographers, astronomers, and merchant sailors sought to discover new routes using the monsoon winds (as well as the trade winds to cross the Atlantic).

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