Ancient China Trade

Trade was important in ancient China and the Silk Road was the main route. The ancient China Silk Road helped distribute trade goods from countries in Asia to Europe.

There were several ancient China Silk Roads which traveled the borders of China, India, and Persia until merchants reached Eastern Europe.

Some of the ancient China Silk Roads were shorter but more dangerous. Other ancient China Silk Roads were longer but more secure for traveling.
Ancient chinese coins
The trade routes allowed numerous cities to grow and many of the caravans traveled only to specific cities and did not travel completely from ancient China to Europe.

History of the ancient China trade and the Silk Road

Ancient Chinese merchants traded silk throughout the known world for thousands of years. The Han Dynasty greatly supported and wanted to expand the silk trade.

After Kublai Khan of the Mongols installed the Yuan Dynasty, the trading of silk along the Silk Road reached its height of popularity.

The Mongols provided security over the ancient China Silk Road along the portions of the routes they controlled. During the Mongol rule, the social status of merchants was elevated.

Ancient China trade included hundreds of exported goods and products. Luxury goods were mainly traded between the ancient Chinese and other kingdoms and empires.
Old China Trade
Luxury goods from ancient China included silk, spices, sugar, salt, tea and porcelain. The ancient Chinese would trade or buy goods such as cotton, silver, gold, wool and ivory.

Why the trade route was called the Silk Road?

One of the major trade goods transported along the route was silk from China. Chinese silk was a cloth of luxury. Chinese silk was soft, supple and was made in hundreds of colors and for thousands of years.

People throughout the known world sought after Chinese silk, especially the Romans who called China the Land of Silk.

What made the Silk Road significant?

The ancient China Silk Road was significant for many reasons. The routes allowed numerous empires and kingdoms to trade goods easily between different entities.

The ancient China Silk Road also spread different cultures, innovative ideas, distinctive goods, and inventions throughout the known world.

How did merchants transport products along the ancient China Silk Road?

Transporting goods and products along the ancient China Silk Road was mainly done by caravans. The caravans of traders traveled in large groups for safety.

The caravans also employed plenty of guards or soldiers to travel along the routes. Bandits were not able to steal from larger the caravans.

The main animal used to transport goods and products was camels. Camels could adapt easier to the arid and severe climate they encountered along the Silk Road.

Consequences of the ancient China Silk Road

Explorers and traders similar to Marco Polo traveled along the ancient China Silk Roads. The goods they brought to each region of the known world were important to ancient civilization. But not all the products were good for everyone.
Silk Road
Disease spread throughout the known world easier because of the ancient China Silk Road. Researchers believe the bubonic plague that struck Europe came from merchants traveling the ancient China Silk Road.

Important facts about the ancient China Silk Road

  • Ancient Chinese silk was a much sought after cloth.
  • Chinese silk was soft, supple and produced in brilliant colors.
  • There was numerous ancient China Silk Roads that traveled from China to Eastern Europe.
  • The ancient China Silk Roads made trading goods easier between kingdoms and empires.
  • Other things like ideas, inventions, culture, and even diseases were spread along the ancient China Silk Roads.
  • Camels were the main animal used by the caravans of merchants to transport goods.
  • The Mongols under Kublai Khan provided security along the ancient China Silk Roads they controlled.
  • Marco Polo was a famous explorer and merchant that traveled along the ancient China Silk Roads.


1. What did the Romans call ancient China?

The Land of Silk

2. Why were camels the preferred animal by caravans to transport goods?

Arid and sever climate

3. The most famous explorer and merchant to travel the ancient China Silk Roads was?

Marco Polo

4. Which devastating disease was brought to Europe by the ancient China Silk Roads?

Bubonic plague