It was named the Silk Road in 1877. Lots of things led up to it. People, including Marco Polo used it for trade with China.
139 BC to 129 BC - First Exploration
Zhang Qian made the journey to the Western Regions of China From 139 BC to 129 BC
Silk Road in Eastern Han Dynasty 25 AD–220 AD
Ban Chao and Ban Yong made several expeditions to the Western Regions to suppress rebellions and re-established the Protectorate of the Western Regions. This helped to ensure peace and trade along this important route.
Silk Road in Tang Dynasty (618–907)
This was a time of great prosperity called the "Golden Age" of development.
Silk Road in the Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368)
The great Mongolian ruler Kublai Khan established a powerful Mongol Empire. He opened up more gates and made it more accessible to everyone, including Marco Polo.