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Lecture 17

ANT200H5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 17: Silk Road, Taoism, Zoroastrianism

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Liye Xie

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November 11, 2015
ANT200 – Trade and Exchange
What are trade and exchange?
Trade: the action of exchanging material goods or commodities
Two scales of trade:
oInternal: within a society (tightly related to social structure)
oExternal: between societies (can be between individuals from di#erent
oWhen determining between the two, ask yourself what is the speci'c context in
what background you are talking about
Exchange has a wider meaning, referring to all interpersonal contacts, including the
exchange of information, ideas, and genes
oIt caused the spread of disease (e.g. the black death), ideas, values, language,
culture, etc.
Why study trade and exchange?
Understand the geographic scales of groups
Prehistoric economic systems
oWhen two cultures encounter each other there are a lot of ideas and they
exchange genes
They are also related to political, social, and ritual systems
One source of cultural/social changes (interactions between societies and cultures)
Social Network
Early evidence
oE.g. Paleolithic groups trading for stone raw materials including obsidian
oGood materials for sourcing
Small scale networks
oOperating locally, or within a region
Large scale networks (especially in the Old World)
oSilk road – china to near east/Europe
oMaritime routes from Europe and Near East to Far East
Two largest scale networks known from ancient societies
Large Scale Networks in the Old World
The silk road and ancient trade
oThe silk routes (overland and maritime) were established for economic
exchange of goods (silk, spices, tea, jade.) but also allowed the 4ow of people
and their genes, culture, diseases and beliefs (e.g. Buddhism, Christianity,
Daoism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism…)
What was traded?
Utilitarian goods
oEveryday used goods
oSubsistence goods were usually exchanged locally, farther for long lasting
items like spices dried or salted foods, ceramics, textiles, etc.
Non-utilitarian goods
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