Made famous in the West by the Venetian adventurer, Marco Polo, the ancient Silk Road spanned one-quarter of the circumference of the Earth. An intricate network of trading routes, in its heyday it stretched from Lyoyang and Xi'an in China, through Central Asia to Istanbul and Rome, perhaps the first example of the globalisation of trade. Untold perils, both natural and man-made, awaited the hardy merchants and travellers who ventured along the Silk Road's many branches in search of profit, learning or simply adventure. Conquering armies, too, swept back and forth throughout the centuries of the Road's existence. All have left their mark in some way. Inside are four detailed maps of the Silk Road's arteries supplemented by 35 colour photographs and historical notes on key places and notable people.