Merchants in Central Asia in pre-Islamic times
With the rise of the Han Dynasty in China, the Silk trade between China and countries as far away as Iran flourished. However, silk was by no means the only merchandise that was traded between China and the West. The merchants, who were envied, esteemed and despised, led dangerous nomadic lives. Their caravans were often joined by missionaries, and merchants played a crucial role in favouring cultural exchange and the propagation of religions.