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What is the purpose of the templateDetails.xml file?

From Joomla! Documentation

File Structure

This article is confusing in that the "File Structure" consists of an almost random selection of files from the rhuk_milkyway template. It then follows with a list of files labeled "Optional and highly recommended". But are all of these files optional for a template ? And are they highly recommended or in fact required for a template ?
As two separate examples of a potential file structure for a template each of these examples seem to be appropriate if they were labeled as such. However, with its current structuring it leads to the question "what files are required for a template ?" and "what files are optional for a template ?" and I think it should either be relabeled or clarified.
Are there in fact any files that are "required" for a template ? Are templates themselves "required" ? From my perspective at least, this particular article is where the beginner will try to grasp the relationship that the template plays in turning a "blank canvas" into a custom website utilizing Joomla core features and optional customization. They will most likely be seeking definitions for things that are not that easy to define due to the versatility of Joomla.