Though silk was certainly the major trade item exported from China, many other goods were traded, as well as religions, syncretic philosophies, and various technologies.
Diseases, most notably plague, also spread along the Silk Routes.
In addition to economic trade, the Silk Road was a route for cultural trade among the civilizations along its network.
The main traders during antiquity included the Chinese, Arabs, Turkmens, Indians, Persians, Somalis, Greeks, Syrians, Romans, Georgians, Armenians, Bactrians, and (from the 5th to the 8th century) the Sogdians.
In August 329 BCE, at the mouth of the Fergana Valley in Tajikistan across the mountain pass from the modern Chinese province of Xinjiang, Alexander founded the city of Alexandria Eschate or "Alexandria The Furthest".; literarily "Great Ionians").
The Greeks remained in Central Asia for the next three centuries, first through the administration of the Seleucid Empire, and then with the establishment of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom (250 BCE-125 BCE) in Bactria (modern Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Pakistan) and the later Indo-Greek Kingdom (180 BCE - 10 CE) in modern Northern Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Use of the term 'Silk Road' is not without its detractors.
The originating source seems sufficiently reliable, but silk degrades very rapidly, so it cannot be verified whether it was cultivated silk (which would almost certainly have come from China) or a type of "wild silk", which might have come from the Mediterranean region or the Middle East.Going as far as to call the whole thing a "myth" of modern academia, Ball argues that there was no coherent overland trade system and no free movement of goods from East Asia to the West until the period of the Mongol Empire.Central Eurasia has been known from ancient times for its horse riding and horse breeding communities, and the overland Steppe Route across the northern steppes of Central Eurasia was in use long before that of the Silk Road.Soghdian Scythian merchants played a vital role in later periods in the development of the Silk Road. 475 BCE), the Royal Road of the Persian Empire ran some 2,857 km (1,775 mi) from the city of Susa on the Karun (250 km (155 mi) east of the Tigris) to the port of Smyrna (modern İzmir in Turkey) on the Aegean Sea.It was maintained and protected by the Achaemenid Empire (c.