Chapter 11
Contending with Isolation:
ca. 1000-1200
Focus Questions
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HOW DID geography influence the spread of culture and statebuilding in North America and Mesoamerica?
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WHY WAS the Indian Ocean so important for the spread of culture?
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WHY WERE the land routes across Eurasia less significant than the sea
routes across the Indian Ocean?
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WHICH AREAS of India were most prosperous in the tenth and
eleventh centuries and what was the basis of their prosperity?
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HOW DID their relative cultural isolation affect Japan and
Western Europe during these centuries?
Geography and the Americas
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American isolation: sporadic contact w/Asia, Europe in pre-Columbus era
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Arctic Regions
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N/S travel inhibited by mountain ranges, rivers
Civilizations develop in Andes (S. America), Mesoamerica, N. American SW
Dramatic shifts in climate/geography inhibit contact with other regions
Thule Inuit (indigenous peoples of Arctic) migrate across Arctic and North
Atlantic oceans using walrus skin boats
Inuit settle Greenland, Western North America (Alaska)
Migrations by Scandinavians (Norse) to America, Iceland, Greenland
Exploitation of sea resources, transformation of Greenland’s environment:
farming, grazing
Isolation, changing climate dooms settlements
Southwest and Mississippian Regions: 800 to 1300 C.E.
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Large scale residential, ceremonial centers in SW: Chaco canyon, Pueblo Canyon
cultures
Cahokia, mound cultures of Northern Mississippi region
Mixed agriculture, trade: extensive networks reaching to SW, Mesoamerica, Northern
plains, SE
The Indian Ocean Trading System
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Richest and most diverse system of the time
 Spices, textiles, precious metals and stones, animals,
agricultural goods, etc.
Monsoons made navigation across thousands of miles easy.
Rise of the Khmer Empire
 Angkor Wat: 12th century
 Writing system, ideas about Buddhism and Hinduism
Chola kingdom in southern India: 11th-12th century
Clearing forest, combining agriculture & commercial trade
 Maritime imperialism: merchants with private armies
Ethiopia
 Trade, but identifies more with Judeo-Christian traditions, as opposed
to the Islamic traditions of its neighbors.
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What is different about American cultural regions as
compared with the Indian Ocean?
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Trade not impossible, but more difficult
More variety in climatic zones, terrains
Easier for communications to be broken
Widely dispersed populations
Mixed nomadic hunter/gatherer and farming communities
Lack of technologies more common in Eurasia
Does Everyone Wants
to be Connected?
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Japan
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Borrows from China: Confucianism and Buddhism, ideas about
government and religion, system of writing, literature,
architecture, etc.
Reaction in 838 C.E. with suspension of trade
Development of these ideas in unison with native Japanese
practice
Why would a society want to look inward in such a fashion?
Western Europe: On the Margins with Few
Resources
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Develops a siege mentality and military solutions to opening up trade
 The Reconquest of Spain and Sicily from Muslims
 Crusades in the Levant and into Eastern Europe
Crusades open Mediterranean trade networks with the Levant and
Egypt, more cultural influences
Northern trade networks tie in with developing trade/travel networks
on the Volga River (Novgorod).
With influx of new goods and technologies, Europe develops
manufacturing in finished tools and textiles that gives it more to trade
with the East
Today’s Question
Are gender preferences in culture inevitable?
Consider
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Various forms of art, including the novel, arose as “women’s art”: either for women or, as in
Heian Japan, by women.
Divisions in the arts reflected inequalities in the status of women and the limited
opportunities available to them in traditional societies.
But gendered differences in artistic taste—from “chick flicks” and romance novels to the
heavily male audience for many video games—persist in the modern world.
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Do these facts suggest that inequalities persist?
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Or is “sexual stereotyping” in childhood is responsible, with parents inculcating different
values in children of different sexes?
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Or are there underlying biological differences, which really do pre-dispose men and women
to contrasting preferences in art and life?