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The originating source seems sufficiently reliable, but silk degrades very rapidly, so it cannot be verified whether it was cultivated silk (which would almost certainly have come from China) or a type of "wild silk", which might have come from the Mediterranean region or the Middle East.Following contacts between metropolitan China and nomadic western border territories in the 8th century BCE, gold was introduced from Central Asia, and Chinese jade carvers began to make imitation designs of the steppes, adopting the Scythian-style animal art of the steppes (depictions of animals locked in combat).
For instance, Warwick Ball contends that the maritime spice trade with India and Arabia was far more consequential for the economy of the Roman Empire than the silk trade with China, which at sea was conducted mostly through India and on land was handled by numerous intermediaries such as the Sogdians.
Going as far as to call the whole thing a "myth" of modern academia, Ball argues that there was no coherent overland trade system and no free movement of goods from East Asia to the West until the period of the Mongol Empire.
As the domestication of pack animals and the development of shipping technology greatly increased the opportunities for prehistoric people to carry heavier loads over greater distances, cultural exchanges and trade developed.
In addition, the vast grassland steppes of Asia provided fertile grazing, water, and easy passage for caravans, enabling merchants to travel immense distances, from the shores of the Pacific to Africa and deep into Europe, without trespassing on agricultural lands and arousing hostility.
From the 2nd millennium BCE, nephrite jade was being traded from mines in the region of Yarkand and Khotan to China.