About 2,000 years ago, people in China invented paper. Over time, the technique for making paper moved west along the Silk Road, a network of trade routes across Asia. As paper spread, people could make books more easily. These books opened up a new age of learning, especially in the Middle East. Islamic scholars took the lead in the study of science, literature, and mathematics.

Image credits: main image, © AMNH/Division of Anthropology.