I searched for it but didn't find a particular answer. I didn't want the time when it was found. I know Silk route is dated to as old as 2 BC (from what I read) but when was it the most active ?

Thanks !


3 Answers 3


From circa 200 BCE to 1453.

"The Silk Road derives its name from the lucrative trade in Chinese silk carried out along its length, beginning during the Han dynasty (207 BCE – 220 CE)." wikipedia

"The Silk Road stopped serving as a shipping route for silk about 1453 with the Ottoman supremacy at Constantinople. " wikipedia

  • Are the dates so sharp as this? I can understand 1453, though Ottomans dominated the Anatolian/Balkan region for some time before that; but what is the significance of the start-year?
    – taninamdar
    Jul 15, 2016 at 19:45
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    No - the dates are not quite that sharp - as the quote says, the silk road began during the Han dynasty - I probably should have picked the midpoint rather than the beginning, but if we're talking a period of 1500 years, I think the error margin is sufficient to cover me.
    – MCW
    Jul 15, 2016 at 20:13
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    I seem to recall the silk road being active for two fairly distinct time periods, rather than a single large one as you provide. Does that match with your recollection also? Jul 15, 2016 at 21:16
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    Your recollection is better than mine - my point was to provide a resource for OP to answer the question - I suspect that OP searched for "silk route"; searching for 'Silk road' provided an immediate resource.
    – MCW
    Jul 15, 2016 at 22:27
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    In that case, editing to make the less exact number more round. I believe that's the idiom in mathematical circles anyway. Feel free to revert if you don't like it. The "circa" was probably enough, but to my mind "circa {some round number} and {a specific year}" makes it clearer the "circa" applies only to the first.
    – T.E.D.
    Jul 15, 2016 at 22:38

The Silk Road existed from about 220 BC (the establishment of the Han dynasty) to 1453 AD (the fall of Constantinople), but was active for much shorter periods of time, in two subperiods, under the Tang and Yuan dynasties.

The Tang Dynasty (630-760). This is not the whole period of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), but only its zenith. During the zenith, the Tang either subjugated troublesome tribes to the west (e.g. the Turks) or maintained good relations with them (the Tibetans). And the Tang were interested in connecting "east" to "west" China. As a result, trade goods enjoyed relatively safe passage from modern North China, through modern Turkestan and Tibet and north India, all the way to Persia and Arabia. Subsequent to 760, more and more of the "silk road" fell under hostile powers, until by 900, the Tang dynasty controlled very little of it.

The Yuan Dynasty (1271-the early 1360s). Kublai Khan finally managed to bring all of China under heel. His grandfather, Ghengis Khan, had already conquered Turkish and Persian, and Ukrainian possessions to the west, extending the silk road all the way to eastern Europe (e.g. the modern Ukraine), which were all ruled by other "family" members. This control lasted until the Ming Revolution of 1368.


Active: The 2nd Century BC to the 1st Century AD Location: From Asia to Europe passing through China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Greece, and Italy. Chinese Regions along the Route: Shaanxi, Gansu, Qinghai, Xinjiang

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