What is the Silk Road?

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It's just a silky smooth road...well not really. Silk Road goods carried overland were not loaded onto camels and carried from China to Europe. Goods made their way westward in a piecemeal way, with a lot trading and loading and unloading at the caravan stops along the way.

Different caravans carried goods during different sections, with traders coming from the West exchanging thing like gold, wool, horses or jade for silk coming from the East. The caravans stopped at fortresses and oases along the way, passing their loads from trader to trader, with each transaction increasing the price as the traders took their cut.

Few people traveled the Silk Road from one end to the other as Marco Polo did. Many were simple traders who took goods from one town or oases to the next and then returned home, or they were horsemen who earned an income from trading and transporting goods between settled towns.