The legendary Silk Road existed long before the birth of Christ. It was not a single highway but a great web of trade routes. Until the 15th century the Silk Road was the largest trading network in the world, extending from China to the Mediterranean. Travellers had to cross dangerous mountain passes and inhospitable deserts, although they could break their journeys in fertile oases and prosperous small kingdoms. It was here that trade was conducted.0And art flourished. In connecting major civilisations, such as India, Persia, China and the Roman Empire, the Silk Road engendered unprecedented cultural exchange. This book presents the rare beauty of finds from vanished cities: wall paintings, Buddhas and precious artefacts of silk, silver, glass, gold and terracotta. All recovered during Russian archaeological expeditions in the 19th and 20th centuries. By explorers who trod in the footsteps of kings, merchants and Buddhist monks. Now readers can tread in the footsteps of these archaeological pioneers and follow the same trade routes to the West. On a journey through a world of unexpected and unbelievably splendid treasures.0Exhibition: Hermitage, Amsterdam, the Netherlands (01.03.-05.09.2014).