This popularising article depicts for the general reader the wealth exchanged along the Silk Road at the time of its domination by the Mongols in the thirteenth century and first decades of the fourteenth. The luxury of Mongol aristocracy’s life is especially underlined, mainly on the basis of the study by Thomas T. Allsen (Commodity and Exchange in the Mongol Empire: A Cultural History of Islamic Textiles, Cambridge University Press, 1997), and through it, on the basis of the fourteenth-century commercial manual by Francesco Balducci Pegoletti (La Practica della Mercatura, ed. Allan Evans, Cambridge, MA: Mediaeval Academy of America, 1936). In the fifteenth century, when direct contact with the Far East was impossible, European explorers rediscovered and used Ptolemy’s Geographical Survey and its mistaken calculations. “Thus the Mongols, and their best salesman, Marco Polo, turned out to be responsible, not only for revealing a Far Eastern world new to Europe, but for instigating the discovery ― by mistake ― of another New World”.

Françoise Aubin, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: II-3.1.B-124