Seasonal migrations marked early steps in establishing cross-continental trade route
Nomadic herders took the ancient Silk Road to new heights.
Starting 4,000 years ago or more, Central Asian herders routinely migrated from highland pastures in summer to lowland areas in winter (SN: 5/3/14, p. 15). Over roughly the next 2,000 years, those routes through mountainous regions eventually became a key part of the Silk Road, an ancient trade and travel network stretching from China to Europe, says a team led by anthropologist Michael Frachetti of Washington University in St. Louis.
This finding underscores the important contribution of nomadic herders, interacting with lowland farmers and early city dwellers, to the Silk Road and overland trade, the researchers conclude in the March 9 Nature. Extensive Silk Road pathways ran across Asia by around 2,200 years ago. Merchants, pilgrims,