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The Silk Road History

From the time Zhang Qian opened up the world-famous Silk Road during the Xi Han Dynasty, to the decline of the Yuan Dynasty, it enjoyed a history of about 1,600 years.

The 4 Main Dynasties of Silk Road History

The Silk Road in Xi Han Dynasty( 206 BC – 24 AD )

In 139BC and 129BC, Zhang Qian set out his journey to the Western Regions twice, opening up the world-famous route. He reached Loulan, Qiuzi ( now Kuqa ) and Yutian ( now Hotan ) and established trade relations with those small but important kingdoms.

In 60BC, Xi Han established the Protectorate of the Western Regions in Wulei ( near now Luntai ) to supervise this northwest area, which also protected the trade along the Silk Road China.

Zhangqian to the Western Regions

The Silk Road in Dong Han Dynasty ( 25 – 220 )

In the period of Dong Han Dynasty, Ban Chao conducted several expeditions to the Western Regions to suppress rebellions and reestablished the Protectorate of Western Regions in 91. Then he lived in the Western Regions for about 31 years, put down countless rebellions and built diplomatic relations with more than 50 small states, ensuring the peace and stability along the Silk Road China.

In 97, Gan Ying set out on his journey from Qiuci ( now Kuqa ), traveled through inhospitable deserts, went over snow-covered Pamirs, by way of Tiaozhi ( now Iraq ) and the Anxi Empire ( now Parthia ) and finally reached the Persian Gulf. He explored a new Silk Road and brought more information about Central Asia.

In 124, Ban Yong stationed soldiers to the West Regions, and persuaded Shanshan ( now Ruoqiang ) and Qiuci ( Kuqa ) to the Han's domination. He vanquished Cheshi Qianbu ( in now Turpan ) and defeated a king of the Hun, and reopened up the Central Route of the Silk Road and greatly protected the ancient Silk Road.

Turpan Camel around Flaming Mountain

The Silk Road in Tang Dynasty ( 618 – 907 )

With the establishment of Tang Dynasty, the Silk Road rose to its peak in history. A new route had been opened up between Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and the Southern Xinjiang.

In 640, Tang Empire set up a Protectorate General to pacify the West and strengthen the dominion. In 640, Tang Dynasty control the Mober ( now Mongolian Plateau ) and the Road reached to Mongolian Plateau and the vast Western Regions. In 641, with the marriage of Princess Wencheng and Songtsan Gampo ( the ruler of Tibet ), cultural exchanges between China and Tibet become more closely, and the Silk Road got a great extension.

In addition, the famous Chinese monk Xuanzang traveled the Silk Road. He started his trip from Chang'an, passed through the Hexi Corrido, Hami and Turpan and finally reached westwards to India.

The Silk Road in Yuan Dynasty ( 1271 - 1368 )

In 1271, Kublai Khan, the great Mongolian ruler, established Yuan Dynasty at Dadu ( now Beijing ). The Silk Route regained its vigor and became prosperous once again. It enjoyed the last glorious era during this period.

At this period, Marco Polo traveled along the Silk Road and reached to the Dadu. On his famous book about his epic journey to Asia, he shared his experiences along the Silk Road. It also mentioned that Yuan government carried out some measures to protect their trade and free movement within the country.

Marco Polo's Book

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