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Trade and Political Fragmentation on the Silk Roads: The Economic Effects of Historical Exchange between China and the Muslim East

Author

Listed:
  • Christopher Paik
  • Lisa Blaydes

    (Division of Social Science)

Abstract

The Silk Roads stretched across Eurasia, connecting East and West for centuries. At its height, the network of trade routes enabled merchants to travel from China to the Mediterranean Sea, carrying with them high-value commercial goods, the exchange of which encouraged urban growth and prosperity. We examine the extent to which urban centers thrived or withered as a function of shocks to trade routes, particularly political fragmentation along natural travel paths. We find that political fragmentation along the roads to Aleppo and historic Chang'an - major terminus locations for cross-regional trade - damaged city growth. These conclusions contribute to our understanding of how a pre-modern international system operated through an examination of exchange between the two most developed world regions of the medieval and early modern periods, China and the Muslim East.

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher Paik & Lisa Blaydes, 2019. "Trade and Political Fragmentation on the Silk Roads: The Economic Effects of Historical Exchange between China and the Muslim East," Working Papers 20190033, New York University Abu Dhabi, Department of Social Science, revised Dec 2019.
  • Handle: RePEc:nad:wpaper:20190033
    as

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    File URL: https://nyuad.nyu.edu/content/dam/nyuad/academics/divisions/social-science/working-papers/2019/0033.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Dincecco, Mark, 2010. "Fragmented authority from Ancien Régime to modernity: a quantitative analysis," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 6(3), pages 305-328, September.
    2. Blaydes, Lisa & Chaney, Eric, 2013. "The Feudal Revolution and Europe's Rise: Political Divergence of the Christian West and the Muslim World before 1500 CE," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 16-34, February.
    3. Rosenthal, Jean-Laurent & Wong, R. Bin, 2011. "Before and Beyond Divergence: The Politics of Economic Change in China and Europe," Economics Books, Harvard University Press, number 9780674057913, Spring.
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