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UNIT 3
REGIONAL &
TRANSREGIONAL
INTERACTIONS
20%
600ce
To
1450ce
BIG 4
Silk Road, Trans Saharan, Indian Ocean,
Mediterranean
These large trade routes led to the birth and
growth of powerful new trading cities
 Novgorod, Timbuktu, Swahili, Huangzhou, Calicut,
Baghdad, Melaka
1. New luxury goods spread along these routes
 Silk, cotton, porcelain, spices, gems, slaves, exotic
animals
2. New commercial technology aided this spread
 Caravanserai (roadside inns)
 Camel saddles
BIG 4
3. New navigational technology aided this spread
 Compass (from China) - magnetic
 Astrolabe (from Hellenistic world) - altitude
 Larger ship designs – “junks” ( Sternpost rudders and keeps =
greater stability)
4. New economic tools facilitated this spread
 Bills of exchange
 Credit/checks/banks
 Government coins/paper money
 Trading organizations
 Government commercial infrastructure
**All of this expedited by the spread of large empires !
SILK ROAD
SILK ROADS: EXCHANGE ACROSS
EURASIA
Silk Road trade flourished the most when
large and powerful states provided
security for merchants and travelers
2 nd to 2 nd: Rome, Han
7 th & 8 th: Byzantine, Abbasid, Tang
13 th & 14 th: Mongols
SILK ROADS: EXCHANGE ACROSS
EURASIA
Goods contributed to Silk Road commerce
 China: silk, bamboo, mirrors, gunpowder, paper,
rhubarb, ginger, chrysanthemums
 Siberia/Central Asia: furs, walrus tusks, amber,
livestock, horses, falcons, hides, copper vessels, tents,
saddles, slaves
 India: cotton textiles, herbal medicine, precious stones,
spices
 Middle East: dates, nuts, dried fruit, dyes, lapis lazuli,
swords
 Mediterranean: gold coins, glassware, glazes,
grapevines, jewelry, artworks, perfume, wool and linen
textiles, olive oil
SILK ROADS: EXCHANGE ACROSS
EURASIA
Silk though?
 Status symbol! (Soft feel too)
 “Husband no more an acquaintance to his wife’s body than a
foreigner”
 As currency, as tribute
 How is it made?
 Mulberry tree leaves – silk worms – women ardently worked to
turn into fabric
 Knowledge of how to do this spread beyond China by 6 th
century CE
 Volume of trade on global scale was modest, however
SILK ROADS: EXCHANGE ACROSS
EURASIA
Buddhism
Conversion was a voluntary process
 Diffusion accepted in large part by merchants, who
preferred universal message rather than caste
system of Hinduism
Buddhist monasteries – place of familiar rest,
resupply (long-distance trade)
Highly literate religion, slow to catch on with
nomadic peoples
Buddhism the religion of no desires?
 Mahayana flourished on Silk Roads
INDIAN OCEAN SEA LANES
INDIAN OCEAN TRADE
INDIAN OCEAN TRADE
Monsoons
 Nov-Feb: south form India to Africa
 Apr-Sep: north Africa to India
INDIAN OCEAN TRADE
Is this the first time trading on Indian
Ocean? No.
Mesopotamia-Indus
Ethiopia/Somalia-Phoenicia
Tempo picks up…
5 th-3 rdBCE: Knowledge of monsoons, new tech
(lateen, dhow)
Faster…
6 thCE: New tech (junk, astrolabe, compass)
INDIAN OCEAN TRADE
 Goods?
 Not luxury goods, such as on Silk Roads
 Why? Cost of transportation cheaper as boats could carry more.
Bulk.
 Products contributed to Indian Ocean commerce:
 Mediterranean: ceramics, glassware, wine, gold, olive oil
 E Africa: ivory, gold, iron goods, slaves, quartz, leopard skins
 Arabia: frankincense, myrrh, perfumes
 India: grain, ivory, precious stones, cotton textiles, spices, timber
 SE Asia: tin, cloves, nutmeg, mace
 China: silks, porcelain, tea
TRANS-SAHARAN CARAVAN ROUTES
SAND ROADS: SAHARAN EXCHANGE
Camel
Can go 10 days without water
Originated in Arabia
Caravans – hundred camels/person
 Travel at night to avoid heat
 25-50 miles/day
 Caravanserai (roadside inns)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA LANES
TRAVELERS’ TALES & OBSERVATIONS
 These travelers, through their various accounts, reveal as much
about themselves and about mis/perceptions generated by cross cultural encounters.
XUANZANG
 “Schwen-Zahng” (600-664)
 Highly -educated, Buddhist monk from China traveled to
India for 16 yrs for religious reasons
 A Biography of the Tripitaka Master (Huili)
 Mahayana  Xuanzang worshipped Bodhi tree/Buddha; Nalanda
University had 10k monks teaching Mahayana, 700yrs at that
point (345)
 Religion and Politics  king gave land/villages/people to support
Nalanda, “the scholars could therefore gain achievement in
learning (346).”
 Record of the Western Region (Xuanzang)
 Social stratification  four classifications (347)
 Specialization of labor, urban planning (centralized government),
monasteries (346)
 Propriety  fidelity, filial piety (347)
MARCO POLO
 Marco Polo (1254-1324)
 From a wealthy merchant family in Venice (north Italian city state, one of if not wealthiest in Mediterranean)
 Traveled under security of the Mongol empire, living in China
for next 17 yrs and working for Kublai Khan
 Very influential on western world
 Skepticism today! – Why? Left out foot-binding, Great Wall,
tea
 Travels of Marco Polo (Marco Polo, 1299)
 Illustrates Hangzhou (“Kinsay”) as “finest city in the world”
 Buddhism, silk, baths, long-distance trade, women, bureaucracy,
weapons, Great Khan’s soldiers
IBN BATTUTU
 Ibn Battuta (1304-1368)
 From Morocco, traveled throughout all of Eurasia (75,000
miles)
 Islamic scholar who often traveled with merchants
 Travels in Asia & Africa (Ibn Battuta, 1354)
 Women in Walata (W Africa)





“Surpassing beauty”
“Shown more respect than men”
“A person’s heirs are his sister’s heirs, not his own sons”
“Do not veil themselves”
“Companions”
 Qadi, safety of the road, “Pempi” shows tradition > Islam,
submissive to king, crowded mosques, naked girls, strange diet
WALATA (WEST AFRICA)
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