The Silk Roads were fundamental in the dissemination of religions throughout Eurasia. Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism and Manicheism spread across this vast region via both land and maritime routes, as travellers absorbed elements of the new cultures they encountered and carried them back to their homelands with them. Thus, for example, Hinduism and subsequently Islam were introduced into Indonesia and Malaysia by Silk Roads merchants travelling the maritime trade routes from the Indian subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula.
In addition to silk a wide variety of goods were sold and exchanged along the Silk Roads, ranging from essential goods such as food and other agricultural produce to more specialized luxury items such as precious stones, artwork and jewellery. In some cases the techniques and technology used to produce such valuable products was a closely guarded secret, which created a sense of mystery and maintained their high value.
Glass is an excellent example of a Silk Roads trade-good whose pattern of exchange can be used to further understanding of the societies, economies and interactions of the diverse civilizations of the past. In the case of glass, the key developments in its production, design and export took place predominantly in the Mediterranean, the Iranian Plateau and the Arabian Peninsula.
Different forms of music and the various instruments used to create it, spread beyond its regions of origin accompanying people as they moved along the Silk Roads. In turn, those travelling along the Silk Roads absorbed the different musical influences of the regions in which they travelled. Indeed, many musical instruments that were common in Silk Roads regions were very flexible and could be used to play a variety of styles of music.
When Islam expanded beyond the Arabian Peninsula to the Iranian Plateau, parts of Central Asia, and North Africa in the late 7th century CE, its growth coincided with a golden age of scholarship across the sciences focused in centres such as ...