The story of the Silk Road has been a popular topic among tourists, academics, economists, state parties, and daydreaming children for many centuries. In many ways the Silk Road can be seen everywhere, and it has existed for as long as people have traveled across Eurasia. Its impact is widely felt among the diverse peoples that live on the continent, through the unique regional art and architectural styles, as well as in countless films, books, academic studies, and organized tours devoted to the ancient trade routes. At the same time, however, the Silk Road is an entirely abstract invention, first coined by the 19th century German geographer Ferdinand von Richthofen. There has never existed a single route - let alone a road - that was used to transfer goods, nor was silk the primary commodity traded across Eurasia. Instead, the Silk Road is more a multi-layered narrative about the rise and fall of nomadic confederations and sedentary societies, the consolidation and dissolution of kingdoms and empires, the exchange of commodities and fine crafts, and the transfer and mixture of ideas, religions, technology, science, art, architecture, myths, and legends.
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