THE SILK EMPIRES
Cities are engines for sociability, entrepreneurship and innovation, providing the necessary tools for human progression. The development of urban centres followed successful overland and sea routes, which channelled world economy from antiquity to the present day. These passages served as bridges for the exchange of commerce, culture and scientific knowledge between the furthest corners of the globe. The most famous - the Silk Road - was an influential caravan route controlled by one of the greatest kingdoms the world has ever known. In the fourth century BC, the terrain of the Persian Empire extended to include modern Iran, Pakistan, Armenia, Turkey, Egypt, the Levant, parts of Central Asia and India. To unite the far-flung reaches of their empire, the Persians set their mind on constructing one continuous stone freeway; a royal road that connects the 5000-mile vertebra from India to North Africa. When completed, the road swerved its mass around rugged mountains, sweeping deserts, roaring rivers and dense forests. Every few miles, it was intercepted by relay stations with inns, where travellers could eat, sleep and switch to fresh rides. This aided communication through an efficient courier service, using a squadron of super-fast horsemen. And to secure a safe passage for travellers, watchmen were posted along the length of the paved carriageway. Next, using an advanced knowledge of hydraulic engineering, the Persians turned their focus to building a canal that connected the Red Sea with the Mediterranean. The waterway was to allow navigation over sea for the Persian’s growing naval fleet. It was also to diversify trade across the rapidly growing empire.