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07 - Networks of Communications And Exchange, 300 B.C.E. - 600 C.E..doc

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HST 101
Tom Wang

CHAPTER 8 Networks of Communication and Exchange, 300 B C .E.–1100 C.E. I0. The Silk Road A0. Origins and Operations 10. The Silk Road was an overland route that linked China to the Mediterranean world via Mesopotamia, Iran, and Central Asia. There were two periods of heavy use of the Silk Road: (1) 150 B.C.E.–907 C.E. and (2) the thirteenth through seventeenth centuries CE. 20. The origins of the Silk Road trade may be located in the occasional trading of Central Asian nomads. Regular, large-scale trade was fostered by the Chinese demand for western products (particularly horses) and by the Parthian state in northeastern Iran and its control of the markets in Mesopotamia. 30. In addition to horses, China imported alfalfa, grapes, and a variety of other new crops as well as medicinal products, metals, and precious stones. China exported peaches and apricots, spices, and manufactured goods including silk, pottery, and paper. B0. The Impact of the Silk Road Trade 10. Turkic nomads, who became the dominant pastoralist group in Central Asia, benefited from the trade. Their elites constructed houses, lived settled lives, and became interested in foreign religions including Christianity, Manicheanism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, and (eventually) Islam. 20. Central Asian military technologies, particularly the stirrup, were exported both east and west, with significant consequences for the conduct of war. C0. The Indian Ocean Maritime System 10. The Indian Ocean maritime system linked the lands bordering the Indian Ocean basin and the South China Sea. Trade took place in three distinct regions: (1) the South China Sea, dominated by Chinese and Malays; (2) Southeast Asia to the east coast of India, dominated by Malays and Indians; and (3) the west coast of India to the Persian Gulf and East Africa, dominated by Persians and Arabs. 20. Trade in the Indian Ocean was made possible by and followed the patterns of the seasonal changes in the monsoon winds. 30. Sailing technology unique to the Indian Ocean system included the lateen sail and a shipbuilding technique that involved piercing the planks, tying them together, and caulking them. 40. Because the distances traveled were longer than in the Mediterranean, traders in the Indian Ocean system seldom retained political ties to their homelands, and war between the various lands participating in the trade was rare. D0. Origins of Contact and Trade 10. There is evidence of early trade between ancient Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley. This trade appears to have broken off as Mesopotamia turned more toward trade with East Africa. 20. Two thousand years ago, Malay sailors from Southeast Asia migrated to the islands of Madagascar. These migrants, however, did not retain communications or trade with their homeland. E0. The Impact of Indian Ocean Trade 10. What little we know about trade in the Indian Ocean system before Islam is gleaned largely from a single first century C.E. Greco-Egyptian text, The Periplus of the Erythrean Sea. This account describes a trading system that must have been well established and flourishing when the account was written. The goods traded included a wide variety of spices, aromatic resins, pearls, Chinese pottery, and other luxury goods. The volume of trade was probably not as high as in the Mediterranean. 20. The culture of the Indian Ocean ports was often isolated from that of their hinterlands. In the western part of the Indian Ocean, trading ports did not have access to large inland populations of potential consumers. Even in those eastern Indian and Malay peninsula ports that did have access to large inland populations, the civilizations did not become oriented toward the sea. 30. Traders and sailors in the Indian Ocean system often married local women in the ports that they frequented. These women thus became mediators between cultures. II0. Routes Across the Sahara A0. Early Saharan Cultures 10. Undateable rock paintings in the highland areas that separate the southern from the northern Sahara indicate the existence of an early Saharan hunting culture that was later joined by cattle breeders who are portrayed as looking rather like contemporary West Africans. 20. The artwork indicates that the cattle breeders were later succeeded by horse herders who drove chariots. There is no evidence to support the earlier theory that these charioteers might have been Minoan or Mycenaean refugees. But there is also no evidence to show us either their origins or their fate. 30. The highland rock art indicates that camel riders followed the charioteers. The camel was introduced from Arabia and its introduction and domestication in the Sahara was probably related to the development of the trans-Saharan trade. Written evidence and the design of camel saddles and patterns of camel use indicate a south-to-north diffusion of camel riding. 40. The camel made it possible for people from the southern highlands of the Sahara to roam the desert and to establish contacts with the people of the northern Sahara. B0. Trade Across the Sahara 10. Trade across the Sahara developed slowly when two local trading systems, one in the southern Sahara and one in the north, were linked. Traders in the southern Sahara had access to desert salt deposits and exported salt to the sub-Saharan regions in return for kola nuts and palm oil. Traders in the north exported agricultural products and wild animals to Italy. 20. When Rome declined (3rd century C.E.) and the Arabs invaded North Africa (mid-7th century CE .), the trade of Algeria and Morocco was cut off. The Berber people of these areas revolted against the Arabs in the 700s and established independent city-states including Sijilmasa and Tahert. 30. After 740 the Berbers found that the southern nomads were getting gold dust from the Niger and other areas of West Africa in exchange for their salt. This opened their eyes
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