Silk was first cultivated in China around 2600 BC, but it would take two and a half millennia for it to spread west.omans first encountered the material while battling the Parthrens in 53 BC and were told it cashe from a mysterious tribe in the east. Roman agents were dispatched, commodities bartered and the “Silk Road”established.
The Chinese had known about trade routes going west across the Taklamakan Desert for centuries. However, these routes only became important when Emperor Wudi of the Han dynasty formed alliances with western tribes against the northern nomads, China’s old enemy.
In 138 BC, Zhang Qian, a court official, was sent west to negotiate with the Yuezhi tribe. Unfortunately, he was northern nom had resettled in nort India and had adopted a nonviolent way of life. Zhang Qian compensated for his diplomatic failure by returning with invaluable information about the areas to the west of the empire and the intrigued emperor launched more exploratory missi Trade quickly grew from these diplomatic missions and the Silk Road was established. It would eventually become vast conduit for exchanging goods and information, stretching between three continents and thousands of kilometers from Chang’ an (the Han dynasty capital) to Dunhuang, and into modern Syria with further branches connecting to the Roman Empire and the Black Sea. Most caravans only traveled a fraction of the route; goods passed through a chain of middlemen from China through Central Asia to Europe.more important avhanaing as the angir However, more important than the exchanging of goods was the exchanging of ideas. Buddhism came to China from India over the Pass and was spread by Silk Road merchants. The Eastern Han emperor showed signs of interest in this new faith, but it was during the Northern Wei dynasty when the government adopted it as the state religion. Many of the thcal ethnic groups living along the Silk Road adopted Buddhism and the particularly devout carved grand monuments along the route.
It was during the Tang dynasty when the Silk Road reached its apex; the monk Xuan Zang made his epic journey to India of silk and spices passed through the city gates. However, when the Tang dynasty fell, so did trade. The Silk Road finally passed out of use in the 10th century with the discovery of faster and more convenient sea routes.
The 19th century saw a revived interest in the ancient Silk Road and it was at this time when the name was first coined, treasure hunters and archeologists stormed the Silk Road, taking with them whatever treasures they could carr mystique and romance of the Silk Road.