external image Zhang_Qian.jpg

Screen Shot 2017-02-23 at 4.39.15 PM.pngZhang Qian

His second century BCE travels throughout Central Asia opened trade networks that formed the early Silk Road

Image to the left shows Zhang Qian, around 130 BCE, leaving for his expedition to Central Asia. Mural is from the Mogao Caves, 8th century CE

Brief Overview of this early Chinese explorer

Multimedia.pngZhang Qian Video Project


This map shows where Qian traveled, in blue, while the grey are places that he heard about on his travels.

Qian traveled westward enough to encounter people who were influenced by Greek culture due to Alexander the Great. In Qian’s records he notes a city Dayaun, which was a city established by Alexander, named Alexandria Eschate.
Zhang Qian's travels and notes were recorded soon after his death in the Records of the Grand Historian a comprehensive history of China from the Yellow Emperor until the Han Empire.

1st & 2nd Journeys. Explorers Before Columbus blog
1st & 2nd Journeys. Explorers Before Columbus blog

The Silk Road

Without Zhang Qian's tremendous journey the silk road may not have been as important & influential as we know it today. His experience and knowledge he gained on his journey allowed China to be able to take part in trade and cultural exchange with groups that they previously had no exposure to.

Zhang Qian in Chinese
Zhang Qian in Chinese

Zhang Qian and the Silk Road

Go to AP World History 2.3 for more on the Silk Road, Sea Routes of the Silk Road and the Tea Horse Road

This website has more information about the origins of the Han Empire and Chinese History.

A Lesson Plan for a group activity on the Silk Road can be found here.
Potential Quiz Question
Zhang Qian was a military diplomat for which Chinese Empire?
A. Tang Dynasty
B. Ming Dynasty
C. Han Dynasty
D. Duck Dynasty

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