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The Roman Empire and the Silk Routes (ePub)

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

Ancient History Archaeology

By Dr Raoul McLaughlin
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
File Size: 8.2 MB (.epub)
Pages: 262
Illustrations: 18
ISBN: 9781473889811
eBook Released: 4th November 2016


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The Han Empire equalled Rome in the scale of its territories and subject populations. With superior steel manufacturing techniques and crossbow weaponry, the Han created a system of Central Asian transport connections known as the Silk Routes. These conveyed unique Chinese goods as far as Persia and the Roman frontier. Ancient evidence suggests that one-tenth of Roman revenues came from taxing Silk Route commerce in Syria.

This book investigates contacts between Rome and the powerful Empires of inner Asia. It explains the development of international commerce, including the role that China and the Xiongnu (Huns) had in the formation of the Silk Routes. The book explores Roman rivalries with the Parthian Empire of Iran, Sogdian intermediaries and imperial contacts with the Kushan Empire which ruled Bactria (Afghanistan) and northern India.

The Roman Empire and the Silk Routes explains Rome’s impact on the ancient economy and offers perspective on Roman civilisation.

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.


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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