The Road to Shu was built by the Qin state in the 4th century B.C. to facilitate its conquest of Shu, today’s Sichuan Province. The Qin state eventually went on to conquer the remainder of China in 221 B.C., but its reign was short, and it was the Han dynasty which followed (206 B.C.–220 A.D.) that improved and enlarged the Qin imperial road system, adding flagstone paving, post houses to lodge government couriers, and barrier points manned by the military to check credentials of merchants and regulate traffic. Private inns also grew up to serve the many traders passing through, and goods from the far corners of the empire came pouring into the capital at Chang’an (today’s Xi’an) over the imperial highways. The Road to Shu became one of the most important roads in the country during this period, supplying the capital not only with Sichuan commodities such as salt, iron, and coal, but with fine luxury items, as well, including the silk and lacquerware that would eventually leave Chang’an and make its way across Central Asia on the Silk Road. The importance of the Road to Shu diminished in the 10th century when the capital left the Xi'an region for good, but it continued to be an important regional artery until it was finally replaced by a highway between 1935 and 1941. To check out the additional excerpts, click on the Plank Roads link first and then follow the next link on that page.