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The Dayuan had mighty horses, Zhang Qian reported back to Wu, and these could be employed effectively against the marauding Xiongnu.

In 138 BCE, Emperor Wu sent his emissary Zhang Qian to the west to negotiate with the Yuezhi people for help in defeating the Xiongnu.

Zhang Qian’s expedition led him into contact with many different cultures and civilizations in central Asia and, among them, those whom he designated the `Dayuan’, the `Great Ionians’, who were the Greco-Bactrians descended from Alexander the Great’s army.

The Silk Road was a network of trade routes, formally established during the Han Dynasty of China, which linked the regions of the ancient world in commerce.

As the Silk Road was not a single thoroughfare from east to west, the term ' Silk Routes’ has become increasingly favored by historians, though ' Silk Road’ is the more common and recognized name.

Herodotus, writing of the speed and efficiency of the Persian messengers, stated that: “There is nothing in the world that travels faster than these Persian couriers.

Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor darkness of night prevents these couriers from completing their designated stages with utmost speed." These lines, from his Histories, 8.98, would centuries later form the creed of the United States of America’s post office.After Alexander the Great conquered the Persians, he established the city of Alexandria Eschate in 339 BCE in the Fergana Valley of Neb (modern Tajikstan).Leaving behind his wounded veterans in the city, Alexander moved on.The history of the Silk Road pre-dates the Han Dynasty in practice, however, as the Persian Royal Road, which would come to serve as one of the main arteries of the Silk Road, was established during the Achaemenid Empire (500-330 BCE).The Persian Royal Road ran from Susa, in north Persia (modern day Iran) to the Mediterranean Sea in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) and featured postal stations along the route with fresh horses for envoys to quickly deliver messages throughout the empire.Both terms for this network of roads were coined by the German geographer and traveler, Ferdinand von Richthofen, in 1877 CE, who designated them ' Seidenstrasse’ (silk road) or ' Seidenstrassen’ (silk routes).

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