The connections between the Near East and the Far East go back thousands of years. Before the rise of Islam in the eighth century, this connection was represented by the Silk Road, an overland caravan system in which goods moved between Mesopotamia and China. With the rise of Islam, the route became a conduit for the spread of ideas and goods that were traded between Muslims and Chinese. As Islam continued to move east over the next centuries, Muslims were introduced to a number of Chinese innovations that greatly influenced Islamic culture.
Take a look at the images in this Media Gallery to learn more about the way the expansion of Islam furthered trade, transportation, and communication with China and the wider world. Be sure to also read the background essay and complete the worksheet in the Support Materials.