- May 2009
Yep. The maritime silk road was a thing too. It developed later than the land silk road though. Starting around the Tang dynasty and reaching it's peak in the Sung and Yuan. The Sung lost access to the northern land routes after foreign invaders conquered the north so they really went all in on maritime trade (and developing their navy). This is the time when you started seeing overseas Chinese communities popping up in Japan, southeast Asia, etc. Chinese sea merchants rarely went further west than India though, and even India was a long trek to them. They focused more on southeast Asia, Korea, Japan, and other parts of China. Persian and Arab merchants were more daring. They would regularly make the trip all the way to China.The short answer is: they did. Far more trade between the far east and Europe happened via the sea route (around SE Asia, India, Arabian sea, and then through Mesopotamia or the red sea). In this case it also wasn't a single ship doing the voyage, but a bunch of merchants doing a single leg each.