The Silk Road was actually made up of several trading routes and linked China and Eastern Europe during the Han dynasty. The name "Silk Road" (SichouZhi Lu) was coined by Baron von Richthofen in the 19th century. This road was the first that exposed China, and its capital Chang'an (Xi'an), to the influences and ideas of the rest of the world. Though it seemed like China was only exporting, sending silk, ivory, fruit, precious metals, glass, and gems, it was actually receiving various religions and beliefs that would influence the powerful nation. China was set to benefit greatly from the expansion in trade due to its large workforce and monopoly on valuable goods. Also benefitting from the trade were the pre-Islamic-Buddhist civilizations along the route. Later, these towns would be forgotten until the 20th century when archaeologists from Europe, Russia, and America would resurrect their history.
The Silk Road started in Xi'an, the Chinese capital then known as Chang'an, and continuing through the Jade Pass in Jiayuguan. The gate and Silk Road were protected by the westernmost fort of the Great Wall. At Dunhuang, the road forked into a northern and southern pass to avoid the Taklimakan Desert. Those who tried to go straight through the desert were swallowed whole and never heard from again. After Dunhuang came the oasis town of Turpan, on the outskirts of Urumuqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region. Finally, at the end of the Chinese Silk Road is Kashi (Kashgar), the gateway to the west and junction of the northern and southern routes of the Silk Road.Arms branched out from here, one leading north over the Pamir Mountains ending in the Mediterranean, and one to the south to northern India through the Karakoram Highway.