Accounts of the Routes of the Jewish Merchants to the East (847)

    These merchants speak Arabic, Persian, Roman (Greek), the language of the Franks, Andalusians, and Slavs. They journey from west to east, from east to west, partly on land, partly by sea. They transport from the west eunuchs, female and male slaves, silk, castor, marten, and other furs, and swords. They take ship in the land of the Franks, on the Western Sea, and steer for Farama (Pelusium). There they load their goods on the backs of camels, and go by land to Kolzum (Suez) in five days' journey over a distance of twenty-five parasangs. They embark in the East Sea (Red Sea) and sail from Kolzum to El-Jar (port of Medina) and Jeddah (port of Mecca); then they go to Sind, India, and China. On their return they carry back musk, aloes, camphor, cinnamon, and other products of the Eastern countries to Kolzum, and bring them to Farama, where they again embark on the Western Sea. Some make sail for Constantinople to sell their goods to the Romans; others go to the palace of the king of the Franks to place their goods.

    Sometimes these Jew merchants prefer to carry their goods from the land of the Franks in the Western Sea, making for Antioch (at the mouth of the Orontes); thence they go by land to Al-Jabia (?) where they arrive after three days' march. There they embark on the Euphrates for Bagdad, and then sail down the Tigris to Al-Obolla. From Al-Obolla they sail for Oman, Sind, Hind (Hin dustan), and China. All this is connected one with another.

    These different journeys can also be made by land. The merchants who start from Spain or France go to Sous al-Akza (Morocco), and then to Tangiers, whence they march to Kairuwan (Tunisia), and the capital of Egypt. Thence they go to Al-Kamla, visit Damascus, Al-Kufa, Bagdad, and Basrah, cross Ahwaz, Fars, Kirman, Sind, Hind, and arrive at China. Sometimes they likewise take the route behind Rome, and passing through the country of the Slavs, arrive at Khamlij, the capital of the Khazars. They embark on the Jorjan Sea, arrive at Balkh, betake themselves from there across the Oxus and continue their journey toward the Yurts of the Toghozghor, and from there to China.

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Question: What was the extent of the European trade network, and what held it together?