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Traveling the Silk Road - A Photo Essay


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Camel Caravan
Camel Caravan at the Great Wall, 1902

Camel Caravan at the Great Wall, 1902

Library of Congress

The massive network of trails called the Silk Road included 4,600 miles (7,400 kilometers) across deserts and mountains; these roads were largely traveled by one method: camel caravan. Camel caravans were groups of people and camels who traveled in convoys over long distances. In a caravan, people by and large walked alongside camels carrying goods for the markets. Camels were well-suited to the task, which included desert temperatures ranging between 122 and -50 degrees fahrenheit.

Because the substantial cities were situated far apart, people traveling in caravans were supported by caravansaries, roadside inns where water for drinking and ritual bathing was kept, as well as fodder for animals and shops for travelers.

The camel caravan illustrated in this photograph was traveling from Mongolia via the Nankow Pass, and passing through the Great Wall of China, when it was photographed in November, 1902 by C.H. Graves.

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