How did the Silk Road increase the spread and exchange of ideas?

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The Silk Road is a term used to describe a series of trade routes that were connected throughout Asia, Africa, and Europe.  The routes were primarily in Asia.  

Harsh climates and conflicts between people groups had made many regions along what became the Silk Road difficult for travel.  A western route was developed first, followed by an eastern route.  Eventually all the routes were connected.  The Chinese were major traders along the routes, and they extended the Great Wall to offer protection for their merchants.  The Silk Road earned its name from the Chinese merchants who traded silk along the route.

Imported goods that had not been seen before in most regions were traded and made accessible because of the Silk Road.  In addition, ideas spread across the regions where the Silk Road route was located.

The religion of Buddhism spread to new regions of Asia due to the accessibility of the Silk Road.  It also spread to parts of Japan, which still practice Buddhism today.  Christianity also spread along the Silk Road.  The Nestorians, which were a sect of Christianity, were "outlawed in Europe... [and they] were driven eastwards."

Changan was the capital city of the Tang Dynasty, and it was also an important stop along the Silk Road.  Changan became "one of the largest and most cosmopolitan cities of the time" because of its location along the Silk Road.  

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