c.172 - 114 BC
Chang-Ch'ien (or Zhang Qian) was dispatched by the emperor Wu-ti to establish relations with a Central Asian tribal group that spoke an Indo-European language.
Almost 1400 years before Marco Polo Chang-Chien travelled as far west as Samarkand and Usbekistan. On a second trip he visited Bactria and Sogidiana in Parthia.
His travel report stimulated Chinese trade relations along the
silk-road with the West, and led to the introduction into China
of a superior breed of horses and new plants, such as grapes and alfafa.