Chinese civilization originated in various regional centers along both the Yellow River and the Yangtze River valleys, but the Yellow River is said to be the cradle of Chinese civilization. With thousands of years of continuous history, China is one of the world's oldest civilizations. The written history of China can be found as early as the Shang Dynasty in 1700–1046 BC, although ancient historical texts such as the Records of the Grand Historian and Bamboo Annals assert the existence of a Xia Dynasty before the Shang. Much of Chinese culture, literature and philosophy further developed during the Zhou Dynasty 1045–256 BC. They built the Silk Road, which would open over 4,000 miles of trade with China, India, Persia, Europe and Arabia.
The Mongol Empire, just north of China, was slowly gaining power under the rule of the famous Genghis Khan the conqueror. They made their first move from 1231 to 1259 by invading Korea. Then they invaded Japan from 1274 to 1281. Then they took Vietnam in 1287. After those areas in Asia, they took of almost all of it, excluding the ice caps in the north. The Mongol Empire Extended from southeast China to Korea to Turkey and parts of Europe.
The Mongol Empire was the largest civilization on planet earth. The fall of the Mongol Empire in the 14th century led to the collapse of the political, cultural, and economic unity along the Silk Road.