Our Silk Road ROAD TRIP Nancy and Phoebe Kammerer
Our Story • We are Nancy and Phoebe Kammerer, and this is our journal from our travels along the silk roads. We undertook the immense and seldom accomplished task of traveling from China to Mesopotamia along the silk road, and this is our story.
Chang’an • We start our journey in Chang’an. Today we went to a market in the town and bartered for some of the Chinese staples that routinely travel items that travel along the silk road. We bartered with several people and were able to procure spices such as cloves, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon (which is a huge relief considering I don’t really know how many days our meat has been in our saddle bags). We also obtained an exquisite Chinese statue of a female dancerUnfortunately though we were unable to obtain any silk. The old man in the market who sold silk, his name was Peter, was not willing to make a reasonable deal with us. He was stubborn and unwilling to adjust his prices, and so I guess we will just have to get our silk at a later date. While walking around the market I observed several people with rashes on their skin that looked almost like a flea bite. Also there were several people who carried strong smelling herbs in their pockets. I found this to be quite odd and don’t really know what it all means but I guess I will have to figure it out at some other time because my sister and I are headed for the desert in just one short week.
Chang’an Our spoils from the Chang’an market Peter
The Taklamakan Desert • Well it has taken over six long months but we have finally reached our destination of Turpan. We at first started our journey on horses but as we went through the treacherous Gansu corridor they, along with most of our coins, were stolen. We traveled a few weeks by foot by after awhile we came upon a man who was returning to China after selling all of his goods in Dunhuang and we were able to convince him to take a few of our personal possessions as payment for two of his camels. We then made much faster time and it was only a matter of weeks until we were in Dunhuang. We saw a village of cliff dwellings right outside of the city that were utterly fascinating. There were hundreds of caves in all different sizes and in many of them there was Buddhist art painted on the walls of the caves. This was an interesting stop but even so if it hadn’t been for the delightful man that we met along the way I would have called the entire journey a disaster. The man’s name is Zhang Qian and he seemed to be very familiar with the Silk road and gave us a few priceless tips. For example he said that because it got so cold at night that it was usually a good idea to try and find a rock to sleep on at night because it would retain some of the heat from the day. Even with that piece of advice though the nights still get pretty chilly and so I am definitely anxious to move on.
Antioch • I am writing this from the city of Antioch in the Roman Empire and it has been over a year since I have last journaled. After our time in Dunhuang we moved on thorough such cities as Khotan, Kashgar, Bukhara, and Merv ending this leg of our journey in Antioch. While in the Mesopotamia region we became aware of the major religious events that are occurring through out the entire empire. Christianity has really taken off in the region because of the work of people such as Gregory the Wonderworker, Constantine, and Theodious who in different ways have recruited more and more people to the religion. The church is even so advanced that there have been two meetings (the councils at Nicaea and Chalcedon) to try to unify the beliefs and practices of Christianity all across the Empire. While in Mesopotamia we also learned about a new religion called Manichaeism founded by a man named Mani who teaches individual salvation and eternal associations with the forces of light and good. Despite their advancements in religions apparently the Empire is not all well. I have heard stories while in various markets about invading people and the names Alaric, Odovacar, and especially Atilla are whispered as if simply saying the words can bring upon their wrath. Even the tetrarchs fear these invading peoples.
The Markets in Anitoch • Despite the disturbing news about invaders my sister and I go out often to the markets. The empire has an amazing variety of goods for sale from all over. Glassware, jewelry, art, perfume, bronze works, pottery and wine are all things made in the Empire and are the arguably the best in the world. Disturbingly similar to the market in Chang’an I saw several people who seemed to be suffering from deadly diseases, which I heard called smallpox and measles. Even this though couldn’t keep me from buying a set of adorable lion water fountain heads that to be honest I have no idea what I will do with them but oh well.
Africa • Well it has taken us over five months but we have finally reached the North African city of Carthage. After leaving Anitoch we traveled mostly south through the cities of Palmyra, and Tyreand then once reaching the African continent we changed our direction and headed west untill we reached Carthage. It was amazing to see the powerful wonder of the Nile River. I attempted to wash my clothes in the river but they didn’t get very clean because of all the silt in the water. While in the market I saw exquisite works of art and amazing carvings done in ivory. At a stall that was selling scrolls I picked up a copy of De unitate ecclesiae by a priest named St. Cyprian. Perhaps I’ll read on our long sea journey that is coming up. After the city of Carthage we continued going west and in a couple weeks we arrived in a city called Hippo where we met the bishop; a man by the name of St. Augustine who promptly after meeting us began to lecture us on the ideals of philosophy. We politely excused ourselves as fast as possible. Why do all these Roman priests love to talk about such serious things all the time? At the local market in Hippo, no there weren’t hippos running around, we ran into some problems with our currency left over from China. They wouldn’t accept it for it’s true value and then we were sold unfunctional goods by a crooked man! Our plan from here is to travel back to the Nile region and board a ship in Bernice and travel through the Red Sea around the tip of Arabia and into the port at Barygaza.