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?

style and design of buildings or open spaces.


group of people who travel together for safety and companionship through difficult territory.


inn with a central courtyard often found in the desert that served travelers along the Silk Road in Asia and North Africa


open area in the center of a building or set of buildings.


to strengthen.


person who sells goods and services.


to supply or refill.


remains of a destroyed building or set of buildings.


ancient trade route through Central Asia linking China and the Mediterranean Sea.


movement of people or goods from one place to another.