Towards Interstellar Exploration
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Now we have gambling, financial investments and many other means of becoming rich. But making a fortune has been one of the common desires of a lot of people all thorough the world and time.
History and archaeology prove us that in the past people wanted to explore, find riches, gather money and investigate the world to find new uses for it and what nature provides. The most important historical research works as well as what we learn in school teaches us about big military campaigns, the expansion of religion and the evolution of nations and political power.
But there is a vacuum generally speaking, in what regards the expansion of commerce, scientific research and exploration and other apparently lesser activities that in fact, defined our world as much but more positively than the biggest battle or bloodiest king murder. For centuries, caravans crossed Europe and Asia, even thorough the time in which the Roman empire ruled a good portion of Earth.
There are no records about specific explorers or merchants who may have done the whole trip from Europe to China until Marco Polo. However, the presence of precious stones and jewels, valuable fabrics like silk and other exotic items in Europe, which clearly were the produce of Chinese culture, of India, Persia an other places in the way, prove this point.
In the same token, Taoism developed in China with particular common grounds with Socratic and Platonic ideas; it seem pretty obvious that Lao Tse based his doctrine at least in part in ancient Greek philosophy. So, for these things to happen there had to be some sort of contact between the two extremes of the Eurasian landmass.
This was something perfectly possible in an indirect way and over time; commerce would have been very slow and relatively scarce, but possible. Indeed, it would make little sense for most people except explorers to travel the whole distance of what Von Richthofen later named as 'The silk road,' but this long commercial way would have been populated by short and medium-range caravans roaming from various points along the road.
Over time, the effect was that several caravans intervened in the transfer of any given product from one point to the other, even at far distances. It has been established that the intensity, size and frequency of these caravans began diminishing because of climate and environmental change that caused more frequent drought periods and ended drying up the streams that carried water to the oasis that existed particularly in the Gobi desert and Persia - now Iran and Afghanistan - preventing any caravan from crossing that new, vast dry land.
This, and a series of political troubles that appeared in China during the fifteenth century prevented any further large-scale commercial contact between the Chinese and European cultures and those in the middle of the way. But for then, many had amassed immense fortunes.
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