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THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE SILK ROAD: THE POSTAL RELAY ROUTE OF MONGOL AND GORYEO

  • Published : 2016.12.15

Abstract

The Silk Road named by Ferdinand von Richthofen was not designated as a specific route. A lot of East-West trade routes had already existed across the continent and the geographical scope and definition of the Silk Road is still expanding. In particular, the claim that the Eastern end of the Silk Road reaches Gyeongju is an example of this expansion. Burial treasures from tombs on the Korean Peninsula have already been identified as products from the Sassanian Dynasty of Persia, and various archaeological and epical evidences support this finding. However, the specific route where these exchanges were made, around the 6th-8th centuries, has yet to be identified. Maritime as well as inland routes can easily be hypothesized. The Silk Road was largely activated by the Yam postal system with the expansion of the Mongol Empire. It not only served as an effective pathway for the Yuan to rule over the Goryeo, but also connected the Eastern end of the Silk Road to Gyeongju. This can explain the situation since the 13th century. Therefore, this paper claims that the Yeokcham system had been operating on the Korean Peninsula since the Unified Silla Kingdom, the previous period of Goryeo, or perhaps even before then. The Yeokcham should thus be regarded as a prototype of the Mongolian Yam, and the Korean peninsula should be recognized as another route which contributed specifically to the development of the Silk Road, not just as a user or a beneficiary.

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