By Salvatore Ciriacono (University of Padova).
My essay examines the trade along the so-called “Silk Road” between the seventeenth and the nineteenth centuries, a period during which Italian trade companies were replaced by other trade companies and by the political intervention of nations suchas China, Russia and England.
Although the Italians had once played an important role in Central Asia, they gradually became an insignificant presence during the centuries under consideration. Indeed, new products and new consumption patterns did change the trajectories of the Asian-European markets, as well as those of the American-Asian markets. Maritime trade routes for Asian commerce were essential to the process of globalization during those centuries. One should not underestimate, however, the important role played by power relations and by commercial development along terrestrial routes -which should not be restricted exclusivelyto the “Silk Road”, as the only direction.