The traditional date for the opening of the Silk Road was 105 BC when the Chinese drove halfway across Asia to link up with a like route running from the Mediterranean to Central Asia, but in fact the Silk Road was some 2000 years older and for some 4000 years was the main avenue of communication between China in the East and the Mediterranean in the West. China was the sole producer of the West's silks until the 5th century and in return desired jade, lapis lazuli, delicately coloured glass and Central Asian horses (Franck & Brownstone 1986).
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