2. Establishing trade routes >
- Persia :
The continent wide routes began with the internal communications of the Persian empire founded in the middle of the first century B.C. Herodotus, the Greek historian, relates that the Royal Road communicated Persia's Mediterranean city of Ephesus to Babylon and the capital in Sousa, a distance of 1,500 km and linked by pony express in 7 days. This was the foundation route of the Silk road.
Persia added Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean border territories around 525 B.C. and by 580. the empire stretched from the Mediterranean to the Indus valley in the east. The Persians methodically connected their empire with a network of trade routes studded with guarded trading posts every 20km ensuring safe commercial exchange. These doubled as information links maintaining imperial order across the vast territory for two and a half centuries. The main threat came from the tribes on the northern steppes who were skilled horsemen but the Persians turned that in their own favour by trading for horses, needed to speed up commerce and protection.
- Hellenism :
Overlaying the Persian and Hellenistic empire maps it is notable that they fit almost exactly. This is because Alexander the Great invaded the Persian empire from Macedonia in 334 B.C. and conquered its territory by using the Persian's own communications network. He also used the Persian strategy of expansion and defense by placing staging posts along the routes which also encouraged trade. Alexander also took over the empire's breadbasket, Egypt, in 332 B.C. However the Greeks added another weapon of power in Alexandria > information in the form of a great library which his successor Ptolomeo I built. The Greek language, koine, became the empire's linguafranca and the cult of Apollo reached the Gundhara valley in India in the form of statues. This prompted the Buddhists there to reinforce their religion by making statues of Buddha.
- Rome :