Where Worlds and Ideas Connect: The Caravanserai

Where Worlds and Ideas Connect: The Caravanserai

Caravanserais were roadside inns located along the Silk Road that provided shelter to travelers and served as a marketplace for trading goods.


5 - 8


Anthropology, Archaeology, Geography, Human Geography, Social Studies, Ancient Civilizations, World History

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Idea for Use in the Classroom

Begin by prompting students to brainstorm a list of possible needs of merchants as they traveled the Silk Road, taking into account the duration and means of travel. Then introduce the infographic to students. Have students compare the list they developed with the services provided by caravanserai as shown on the infographic.

Next, direct students to the portion of the infographic containing the map of the Silk Road. Students can use the key to distinguish between the red and white line and blue dots. Once familiar with the map, have students propose reasons for the varying density and distribution of caravanserai ruins, especially those far from the Silk Road. Students can also identify the different cultural regions, terrains, and climates through which the Silk Road spanned using outside resources. Considering these different features, have students hypothesize how a caravanserai might change based on its location, including goods and services, architecture, or places of worship. Students can test their predictions by working in small groups to research the characteristics of caravanserais in specific regions. Each group can select a particular geographical area, then compare with groups researching other areas to highlight cultural similarities and differences.

Connect the use of caravanserai to modern travel by challenging students to explain how the caravanserai depicted in the infographic should be modified to fit today’s needs. Have students consider these questions as they propose modifications:

  • What are the necessities of travel in the modern world?
  • What role does transportation technology play?
  • What basic human needs does the caravanserai address?
Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Tyson Brown, National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
Production Managers
Gina Borgia, National Geographic Society
Jeanna Sullivan, National Geographic Society
Program Specialists
Sarah Appleton, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Margot Willis, National Geographic Society
Last Updated

October 19, 2023

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