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Commerce and Culture, 500 - 1500
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Indian Ocean Trade
Indian Ocean trade is a vast network that has witnessed thriving trade since ancient times. In early times, coastal trade occurred between different regions. For example, the people of the Indus Valley had good trade relations with the Sumerian and Mesopotamian civilizations. This trade network was equally important to Europe even before the Suez Canal came into existence. Usually, the goods from the East would be carried by way of the Arab merchants either through the Red Sea route overland to the Nile or through the Persian Gulf by way of Syria and the Black Sea.
The Mayan civilization is known for its monumental stone architecture, elaborate hieroglyphic writing, sophisticated knowledge of mathematics and astronomy, pictorial painted pottery and carved stone, and a complex trade and economy. Hieroglyphs record historical information about the royal Maya, but unfortunately are virtually silent about Mayan economy and trade.
Medieval World 600-1492 AD
The centuries between 600 and 1492 saw the entire cycle of several important civilizations. Shortly after 600 the Islamic community was founded in Medina, under the leadership of prophet Muhammad. For many centuries Islam and other civilizations farther east were the most dynamic cultures in the world. The year 1492, however, saw the discovery of the Antilles by Christopher Columbus, the prelude to the conquest and settlement of the New World by Europeans.
Postclassical Period 500-1500
During the postclassical period, following the decline of the great classical empires of Asia and the Mediterranean, three major developments stand out in world history and the history of many individual societies: the expansion of civilization to new areas - in Asia, Africa, and Europe, this involved contact with and outreach from the older centers (China, India, the Middle East and North Africa, and Byzantium); the spread of major world religions, including the development of Islam, the most successful single religion during this period; and the intensification of international contacts in the Eastern Hemisphere.
The major overland trade route from western China (Xinjiang), traversing the Pamirs and Central Asia, passing into and through northern India and on to the Middle East, and thence by ship to the markets of the Roman Mediterranean.
Regular commercial activities between Asia and Europe, which invigorate the current global economy, date back to the pre-Christian era. For centuries until the late 1400s, Asian commodities—silk, porcelain, jewels, precious metals, spices, textiles, and other luxury items from China, Japan, India, and Southeast Asia—found their way to Europe through the Middle East and the Mediterranean involving a multifaceted web of trade contacts.
China and the World: East Asian Connections, 500-1300
China: Early Imperial History 221 BC - 1279
The mighty Tang dynasty (618-907) expanded the empire westwards to eastern Persia and the Caspian Sea and northwards to the Korean border. The Song dynasty (960-1279) was more noted for its cultural and technological achievements, and was pushed south by the Liao and Jin dynasties. However, from 1203 both the Jin and the Song were pushed aside by the onslaught of the Mongols.
Worlds of European Christendom, 500-1300
The Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantine Empire, was a polyglot, multiethnic, polysectarian state, at the head of which was the emperor (basileus, autokrator), whose autonomous monarchical power rested on Hellenistic political philosophy and Christian political theory.
Western Europe, 1000-1300
This period witnessed great agricultural expansion, which made possible considerable population growth, which in turn contributed to the rise and growth of towns. A general commercial revival, especially of long-distance trade, brought Europeans, at least indirectly, into contact with many parts of the eastern Mediterranean, East Africa, East and Southeast Asia.
Worlds of Islam: Afro-Eurasian Connections, 600-1500
The Islamic empire had its roots in the career of the Prophet Muhammad (d. 632 C.E./II A.H.) and initially came into existence as a consequence of the extensive conquests on which Muhammad's followers embarked immediately after his death. During the empire's first two centuries, the ad hoc and sometimes tribally based governing structures of the conquest period were gradually replaced by more systematically organized bureaucratic institutions; in some cases, the Islamic empire drew on structures and traditions of the Byzantine or Sassanian empires as models for these institutions.
Rise and Expansion of Islam, 610-945
In the early 7th century, Arab Muslim armies spread out from the Arabian Peninsula into the surrounding lands and, in a wave of expansion that lasted about a hundred years, conquered almost the entire Middle East and North Africa.
Patoral People on the Global Stage: the Mongols, 1200-1500
THE MONGOLS in central Asia formed a new empire under Temujin (1167 to 1227), who rapidly expanded the empire by use of strategy and his military machine, employing discipline, extraordinary mobility (especially on horseback), espionage, terror, and superior siege material.
The Mongols, who created the largest connected land empire in world history, originated as a group in eastern Mongolia that in the early thirteenth century came under the leadership of Genghis Khan. When they first appeared on the historical stage, they were pastoral nomads, migrating several times a year to find grass and water for their animals.
Worlds of the Fifteenth Century
Events of the year 1500
Vast state founded in the late 13th cent. by Turkish tribes in Anatolia and ruled by the descendants of Osman I until its dissolution in 1918. Modern Turkey formed only part of the empire, but the terms "Turkey" and "Ottoman Empire" were often used interchangeably.
The Global Picture
Great interregional networks of trade, conquests, and exchanges of ideas blurred the boundaries between the major societies in the Eastern Hemisphere, and oceanic travel opened the way for a fully global network. In this emerging global network, as Europeans began to cross the Atlantic, the older temple-palace civilizations of the Western Hemisphere were destroyed.
Lost Civilizations: Africa- A History Denied
An excerpt from a fine documentary film discussing the coastal civilization of the Swahili-speaking people.
Indian Ocean in World History
This impressive site is devoted to an area that has been one of the central axes of trade and cultural contact, fundamentally shaping human history
BBC, “In Our Time,” discusses the great overland trade route known at the Silk Road. Melvin Bragg's guests Tim Barrett, Professor of East Asian History at the School of Oriental and African Studies; Naomi Standen, Senior Lecturer in Chinese Studies at Newcastle University; and Frances Wood is Head of the Chinese Section at the British Library.
BBC’s “In Our Time,” on the Arab Conquests of the 600-700s CE, when, in little more than a century, Islamic Civilization expanded from its Arabian heartland, across northern African and the Sahara, reaching well into western Europe.
Mongols in World History
Housed at Columbia University, this is an excellent site.
In 1000, 1100, 1200, and 1300, China was the most advanced place in the world. Marco Polo (1254-1324) recognized this when he got to China in the late 13th century after traveling through much of Asia.