Silk Road: a series of trade routes across Central Asia stretching some 4,000 miles (6,400 km). The Silk Road linked the ancient capital of China, Chang'an (now called Xi'an) with Istanbul and the Mediterranean world.
Trade first travelled the entire length of the route around 114 B.C., when China's Han Dynasty began to send trade goods west. In addition to silk, such luxuries as spices, ivory, porcelain and gold flowed along this east/west exchange way.
"The Silk Road fell into disuse in the 15th century A.D., when easier sea routes were established between Europe and East Asia."