Trade Routes: Then and Now

Why Did Trade Of Goods Start? How Was It Carried Out? Let Us Get To Know Some Facts About Trade Routes.

What Are Trade Routes?

Trade routes are those connections between two geographically distant pieces of land which are used to transport or exchange goods. In the ancient times trade routes were the major points of power for the respective countries which participated in them. Goods such as – coal, silk, spices, grains etc. were exchanged. The more trade routes a country controlled, the more powerful it was considered. Trade routes were also, when plausible, utilized for human travelling. Also, these routes came to be known for transferring culture, traditions, languages, illness, pests etc. between two different countries or settlements. 

Why Were Trade and Trade Routes Necessary?

When humans started settling and left the ways of nomadic life, they started growing and producing things that were necessary for their day to day lives. Soon the idea of self-sustained living started to fade away. A farmer could exchange his grains for meat, clothes, pot etc whichever was in requirement to him as the markets were not far away. This was the barter system of trade. Mesopotamian tribes introduced it in 6000BC. Usage of bronze and copper currencies for commodity exchange later got popularity. Trade and trade routes came to be to fulfill wants and needs of people for things of foreign lands.

It was a common conception and truly so that a settlement well connected through trade with other settlements developed faster, was more civilized and accommodated diversity in every aspect of life and automatically flourished but at the same time drew upon itself hindrances like transfer of agricultural pests, animal and human illnesses from abroad, huge population growths, vast diversity of people, cultures, traditions all of which had to be maintained peacefully by the ruling king. If this was not done in a well structured way so as to benefit traders, middlemen, consumers, the monarchy etc. it would ultimately lead to chaos.

Global Logistics, maintained through international supply chain management is the modernized version of ancient trade routes. 

Major Trade Routes

Silk Route 

Silk trade from China to Roman Empire happened through this route. China exchanged silk for gold, silver, wool, luxurious items from the empire. Commodity travelled the route by passing through various people. The route went to Afghanistan through Pamir Mountains from The Great Wall of China.

Spice Route

This route was mainly as the name suggests to move spices from East to West. Before the age of exploration i.e., 15th century, this trade was predominantly controlled by Arabs and North Africans, which made spices a very rare and expensive commodity. But during the exploration age, European and Dutch Countries travelled on their own, formed new linkages with China, Indonesia and Japan to exchange goods. Spice trade was a major factor for many wars, colorizations and personal fortunes of people.  

The Amber Road

This route connected the Baltics with Europe. Romans valued amber for its medicinal and decorative value and traded it through this route. People harvested amber from shores of Baltic Sea as its deposits were under it. Fragments of the route remain to this day in Poland.   

Modern Trade Routes

Owing to the advancements in technology it is now possible to trade from anywhere to anywhere by having the right tools. Global Logistics and International Supply Chain Management is the transportation of goods by land, air or water to various places. 

By utilizing developments in the field of transportation, storage facilities, communication, data storage etc. moving a commodity from point of production to point of consumption has become relatively easy compared to ancient times. 

Manual handling of stock has become very limited now with the advent of computers and software to maintain large numbers of stocks in just one computer. The process has become more cost effective and efficient. Along with international trade, intra-regional trade has become a completely different industry on its own. Transportation of regional specialties to other places or purchase of day to day goods from shops situated in completely different states altogether.

E-commerce is buying and selling of goods online. It can either be business to consumer type (B2C), business to business type (B2B). It includes essential goods, electronics, agricultural produce and even education.

In the modern trade scenario there need not be specific routes for specific commodities or regions. Anyone can buy what they desire from anywhere in the world. This has led to immense overlapping of various cultures, food, traditions etc. Also, this new technological advancement has paved the way for employment opportunities and has even created new types of job roles. Due to this, new subjects and fields of study have emerged to perfect global trade and also intra-national trade.