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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Africa Antarctica Arctic Australia Canada Mexico North America South America Space Undersea Women
1300's and Earlier 1400's Early 1500's Late 1500's 1600's 1700's 1800's 1900's Glossary of Exploration Terms

Z

ZHANG QUIAN
Zhang Qian, also called Chang Ch'ien (?-114 BC) was a Chinese explorer who traveled to the steppes of Central Asia during the reign of the Han dynasty Emperor Han Wudi (also called Wu Ti, he reigned from 140-87 BC). He was the first person to bring information on this area to China.

Emperor Wudi sent Zhang Qian to visit the Indo-European Yüeh-chih tribe of central Asia in order to establish a trade relationship. On his way northwest in 138 B.C. with about 100 men, Zhang Qian was imprisoned by the nomadic Hsiung-nu people (the Huns) for 10 years. He escaped and made his way to the Yueh-chih tribe (a journey of over 2,000 miles), returning to China 3 years later. Upon his return from this 12-year journey, Zhang Qian was named supreme counselor of the palace by the Emperor.

Many years later, the Emperor sent him to visit the Wu-sun people to the northwest of China, another Indo-European tribe living in what is now Russia. His travels, and those of his assistants (who visited Uzbekistan and Afghanistan) opened up Chinese trade and helped begin the Silk Road, an important trade route connecting the east and the west.

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