What Did Roman Trade with India and China Look…

This map, based on geographical data recorded by a Greek writer in the early years of the Roman Empire, shows the trade route from Rome to India.

Elites in India and China prized Roman-made glass and rugs. Elites in Rome enjoyed wearing silks made in the Far East – so much that the Senate got worried about how much gold was leaving the empire, and tried to ban silk clothing. It did not work.

You will notice that most of the goods traded were for elites – silk, glass, ivory, carnelian. Given the long distances to travel between the Mediterranean, the Ganges, and the Yangtze, only

expensive items to wealthy aristocrats made the journey. Basics like grain or iron were traded in more localized networks.