Traders and travelers on the Silk Road could interact with the cultures of China, India, Persia, Arabia, eastern Africa, the Maghreb, and the eastern Mediterranean.
It is almost equidistant between the China Sea and the Mediterranean.
Afghanistan’s central location on the Silk Road helped develop the region’s impressive wealth.
It was kind of mythical in the past, because it was very wealthy.They not only had a lot of agriculture, they had a lot of animal wealth, because [the region] is really great for herding. And they had mineral wealth.
The wealth and cosmopolitan culture of Afghanistan’s trading outposts made them popular sites on the Silk Road.
Settlements including Tepe Fullol, Ai Khanoum, Bamiyan, and Bagram were bustling stops for traders.
It wasn’t only trade goods, however, that moved across Afghanistan. Powerful ideas spread through the region. Trade, religion, communication, and political thought all interacted on the Silk Road.
Buddhism, for instance, started in India and spread to Afghanistan before migrating to China.
Bamiyan, in central Afghanistan, was a Buddhist center with towering statues that dominated local cliffs before they were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001.
Art, too, developed diverse influences. Greek architectural style, for instance, permeates the ruins of Ai Khanoum, an archaeological site in modern Afghanistan’s northeast. Ai Khanoum was conquered by Alexander the Great, and inscriptions to Greek gods such as Hermes and Heracles have been found on artifacts.
The same elements that made Afghanistan so attractive to ancient traders also made it a target for conquest.
But from the Greek forces of Alexander the Great to the British Empire of the 19th century, Afghanistan has proved to be nearly impossible to permanently conquer. The region’s climateand landscape have earned it the bitter nickname “Graveyard of Empires.”
First of all is that it is right smack dab in the center of Asia, and what that means is the climate is continental.Continental climate means that it is not buffered by the ocean’s currents. So it is really cold in the winter, and it’s really hot in the summer. It’s a pretty tough place to be.
Historically, the region’s climate and landscape have also made it difficult for Afghans to unify.
Because the valleys are the main sort of thoroughfares, the country itself is kind of fractured. There’s a lot of inter-valley competition. There is fighting.”
New Silk Road
Despite the civil and foreign wars that have defined modern Afghanistan for more than 30 years, archaeologists take a longer view of history.
Afghanistan has the resources to thrive once the country stabilizes, one of the largest underground copper deposits in the world was just found in Afghanistan.