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The Silks Roads Summary and Guide - Pages 1-7

Starting points pages 1-7

Sprung from Mesopotamia Mesopotamia is something like the root or origin of much of the ideas and concepts  that dominated recorded history. Some of the most influential early societies and civilisations sprang from there on the basis of the natural advantages it has - a huge selection of edible, founder plants and the ease of migrating east and west. Rivers provided fresh water and allowed the transportation of goods, forming a  perfect triangle for growing societies. The starting advantages of Mesopotamia cannot be understated.

The Persians dominated this era most simply by being open to the customs outside of Persia and integrated them into their own expansion. They, to allegorise, worked with the river rather than fought against its flow. They embraced the variations in culture, religion, and traits that they found as they expanded. To aid this expansion, they created complex yet efficient systems of government and administration. They created a highly educated government workforce of bureaucrats to record information on events in the empire and then use this information to keep everything under control. Paperwork! Nooooooooooooooo….we all hate it! Ask your parents. I promise they think it’s nonsense, too. It is, however, a form of regular and actionable information. Information is power, peeps. 

Peace and tolerance

Let’s say that these Persians were just a superb example of being open and tolerant of everyone. They did a fabulous job of not alienating the people they conquered (which is why I crossed out ‘peace’). There was much fighting, much shouting, much cryin’, but there was far more tolerance than most empires showed before or after. This tolerance allowed the Persians to start trading extensively (East to West and West to East, not longitudinally). Typically, when countries trade quite freely and openly, they grow affluent, as the Persians did (they probably had golden pyjamas!). Of course, there were dangers and challenges to this wealth and control from dudes and dudettes like the nomadic Mongols - BLOODTHIRSTY SAVAGES WHO…calm down. They weren’t the stereotypical wild barbarians. An important trading route of horses passed from Mongol areas to the Persian empire. Naturally, a really irate and aggressive guy came along who wanted all of this lovely treasure Alexander the Great! Europe? Nothing there at all! 

Alexander looked at Europe and thought “Disgusting, turn around to the East!” The real success story was the East, so he conquered it! What a man! He loved conquering and his achievements were lasting. He conquered and fortified territories, decimating the Persian Empire, but also protecting the treasures and knowledge that had been accrued there. He was no idiot! He was tolerant. He loved to build cities and name them after himself. How many Alexandrias can you find on a map? The key idea is that by conquering and then embracing the Persian Empire’s collated wisdom and ideas, he began to mix ancient Greek concepts with Persian and created a composite culture that began to dominate this area from the Mediterranean to the Himalayas and even began to touch China. The gods of Greece and Persia, the architecture of Babylonia, and cows (really!) spread everywhere!

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