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The Roman Empire and the Silk Routes (Paperback)

The Ancient World Economy and the Empires of Parthia, Central Asia and Han China

Ancient History Rome Archaeology

By Dr Raoul McLaughlin
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 288
Illustrations: 18 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526771087
Published: 14th September 2020

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The Roman Empire and the Silk Routes investigates the trade routes between Rome and the powerful empires of inner Asia, including the Parthian regime which ruled ancient Persia (Iran). It explores Roman dealings with the Kushan Empire which seized power in Bactria (Afghanistan) and laid claim to the Indus Kingdoms. Further chapters examine the development of Palmyra as a leading caravan city on the edge of Roman Syria and consider trade ventures through the Tarim territories that led Roman merchants to Han China.

The Han Empire of ancient China matched that of Rome in scale and possessed military technology surpassing that of Roman legions. The Han established a system of Central Asian trade routes known as the Silk Road that carried eastern products as far as Persia and the frontiers of the Roman Empire.

This is the first book to address these subjects in a single comprehensive study. It explores Romes impact on the ancient world economy and reveals what the Chinese and Romans knew about their rival Empires.

After reading this book, I have become more enlightened about Rome’s place in the ancient world. Contrary to the purported claims of many documentaries, the Roman Empire lacked key ingredients to become a global superpower, namely steel weaponry and a sustainable economic structure based on manufacturing. I found it somewhat eerie when I realized that the Roman dilemma presented in this book has repeated many times in history e.g. British obsession with Chinese tea in the 1800s and American trade deficit today. I hope that scholars perform more research of this kind so that we may learn about essential institutional and economic features that supported the ancient empires.

Kunwon Saw, Freelance

In all this is a fascinating book that outlines the characteristics of several cultures spanning a third of the globe. Military, political, and especially economic information underline the relationships and events of the time. Anyone reading this book is going to understand a very special period of our past a whole lot better, and on that I cannot fault this book. This is a work that delves into a subject that has rarely been given any serious literature, a labour of love by the author, and even if half the book is correct, what I just finished reading is astonishing. An entire complex global community in a world that's gone forever. But not forgotten.

Read the full review here.

UNRV

This is a fascinating look at a fairly obscure area of Ancient history.

Read the complete review here.

History of War

Ground-breaking study

Minerva, March/April 2017 – reviewed by Dominic Green

The coverage of the intermediaries is what makes this book so fascinating for me and lifts it above many of the others. It also allows the author to cover things which were controversies in the past... All in all a book I'd recommend to anybody interested in this period.

SlingShot, November-December 2016 - reviewed by Jim Webster

The Roman Empire and The Silk Routes,
by Raoul McLaughlin, is an investigation into the importance of economic development of the
silk at the time of the Han Empire and
of the Roman Empire. The originality of the book
resides in its organization: the author begins by describing the Chinese empire,its organization and the springs of its economy, and then travels gradually to the west.

VaeVictis, January - February 2017

An excellent read considering what a dry subject this could be, and one I shall return to.

Miniature Wargames, November 2016 - reviewed by John Treadaway
Dr Raoul McLaughlin

About Dr Raoul McLaughlin

Raoul McLaughlin was educated at Lagan College, the first Integrated School in Northern Ireland. He studied Archaeology and Ancient history in Belfast before completing a Master’s degree and then a PhD on the study of trade beyond Rome’s eastern frontiers. He lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

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The ancient evidence suggests that international commerce supplied Roman government with up to a third of the revenues that sustained their empire. In ancient times large fleets of Roman merchant ships set sail from Egypt on voyages across the Indian Ocean. They sailed from Roman ports on the Red Sea to distant kingdoms on the east coast of Africa and the seaboard off southern Arabia. Many continued their voyages across the ocean to trade with the rich kingdoms of ancient India. Freighters from the Roman Empire left with bullion and returned with cargo holds filled with valuable trade goods, including…

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