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The Global Tapestry (1200-1450) finds Africa as the New Kid on the Block in terms of the Afro-Eurasian “Global” world. Africa is at the end of the pre-Columbian trade routes. Sub-Saharan Africa (Ghana, Mali, Hausa) are linked to the rest of the world via the Trans-Saharan Trade routes. Southern Africa is at the tail end of the Indian Ocean trade (focused in and around the Swahili Coast). Sub-Saharan Africa becomes the southwest quadrant of Dar al-Islam. You can tell from the map below that the Europeans have already begun exploring around the Western Coast with the Portuguese Voyages of Prince Henry (1415-1460). Africa was emerging as a major Global force in this period; but, as you can see from Prince Henry, they will come to be dominated by the Europeans in the next three periods.

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A deepening and widening of networks of human interaction within and across regions contributed to cultural, technological, and biological diffusion within and between various societies.

A deepening and widening of networks of human interaction within and across regions contributed to cultural, technological, and biological diffusion within and between various societies.

  • Improved commercial practices led to an increased volume of trade and expanded the geographical range of existing trade routes—including the Silk Roads, trans-Saharan trade network, and Indian Ocean—promoting the growth of powerful new trading cities.

  • The Indian Ocean trading network fostered the growth of states.

  • The growth of inter-regional trade in luxury goods was encouraged by innovations in previously existing transportation and commercial technologies, including the caravanserai, forms of credit, and the development of money economies as well as the use of the compass, the astrolabe and larger ship designs.

  • The expansion of empires—including the Mongols—facilitated Afro-Eurasian trade and communication as new people were drawn into their conquerors’ economies and trade networks.

  • The expansion of empires—including Mali in West Africa—facilitated Afro-Eurasian trade and communication as new people were drawn into the economies and trade networks.

  • The expansion and intensification of long distance trade routes often depended on environmental knowledge, including advanced knowledge of the monsoon winds. The growth of inter-regional trade was encouraged by innovations in existing transportation technologies.

  • Muslim rule continued to expand to many parts of Afro-Eurasia due to military expansion, and Islam subsequently expanded through the activities of merchants, missionaries, and Sufis.

  • In key places along important trade routes, merchants set up diasporic communities where they introduced their own cultural traditions into the indigenous cultures and, in turn, indigenous cultures influenced merchant cultures.

  • As exchange networks intensified, an increasing number of travelers within Afro–Eurasia wrote about their travels. n Increased cross-cultural interactions resulted in the diffusion of literary, artistic, and cultural traditions, as well as scientific and technological innovation.

    • Islam, Judaism, Christianity, and the core beliefs and practices of these religions continued to shape societies in Africa and Asia.

  • There was continued diffusion of crops and pathogens, with epidemic diseases, including the bubonic plague, along trade routes.

State formation and development demonstrated continuity, innovation, and diversity in various regions.

State formation and development demonstrated continuity, innovation, and diversity in various regions.

  • As the Abbasid Caliphate fragmented, new Islamic political entities emerged, most of which were dominated by Turkic peoples. These states demonstrated continuity, innovation, and diversity.

  • Empires and states in Afro-Eurasia and the Americas demonstrated continuity, innovation, and diversity in the 13th century

  • Empires collapsed in different regions of the world and in some areas were replaced by new imperial states, including the Mongol khanates.

  • In the Americas and in Africa, as in Eurasia, state systems demonstrated continuity, innovation, and diversity, and expanded in scope and reach.

  • Muslim states and empires encouraged significant intellectual innovations and transfers.

  • Inter-regional contacts and conflicts between states and empires, including the Mongols, encouraged significant technological and cultural transfers, including during Chinese maritime activity led by Ming Admiral Zheng He.

Changes in trade networks resulted from and stimulated increasing productive capacity, with important implications for social and gender structures and environmental processes.

Changes in trade networks resulted from and stimulated increasing productive capacity, with important implications for social and gender structures and environmental processes.

  • Demand for luxury goods increased in Afro–Eurasia. Chinese, Persian, and Indian artisans and merchants expanded their production of textiles and porcelains for export; manufacture of iron and steel expanded in China.

  • The fate of cities varied greatly, with periods of significant decline and periods of increased urbanization buoyed by rising productivity and expanding trade networks


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CLIP #1 SUB SAHARAN AFRICA (from CRASH COURSE WORLD HISTORY)

CLIP # 2: TIMBUKTU (from UNESCO)

CLIP #3: WHO BUILT GREAT ZIMBABWE? (from TEDEd)

CLIP #4: PRESERVING GREAT ZIMBABWE (from al JAZEERA)

CLIP #5: Who was the REAL LION KING? (SPOILER: It was the Sundiata, the founding story of the Mali Empire)

CLIP #6: MANSA MUSA (from TEDEd)

CLIP #7: DJINGUEREBER MOSQUE in TIMBUKTU (OK… This isn’t the one in Timbuktu, rather this is the one in Djenne, but it’s the best clip I could find and he shows you how it was built and there USED to be one like this in the 14th century, but this is a “replica” rebuilt in 1907… Just know the one in Djinguereber in Timbuktu IS from the 1300s :)


CLIP #8: CHURCH of ST. GEORGE, the Stone Churches of Lalibela, Ethiopia

This, like the Americas, is lacking in resources. Most of Sub-Saharan Africa is pre-literate. So, some of these are accounts of travelers and/or griots or storytellers.

This, like the Americas, is lacking in resources. Most of Sub-Saharan Africa is pre-literate. So, some of these are accounts of travelers and/or griots or storytellers.

1. The Epic of Sundiata, c. 1250, Griots (Oral tradition), (TIMBUKTU, MALI)
2. A Gift to Those Who Contemplate the Wonders of Cities and the Marvels of Travelling, (This is the section on his journey to Mali & Timbuktu) 1355 CE, Ibn Battuta (MOROCCO)
3. The Book of Lessons (Kitab al-lbar), c. 1375, Ibn Khaldun (MAMLUK SULTANATE)
4. Timbuktu Manuscripts, c. 1250 (TIMBUKTU, MALI)
5. Kebra Nagast, c. 1350 CE (ETHIOPIA)


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1. GREAT ZIMBABWE, c. 1050 CE, (KINGDOM OF ZIMBABWE)

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2. BENIN BRONZE, c. 1400 CE (KINGDOM OF BENIN)

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3. DJINGUEREBER MOSQUE, 1327 CE (TIMBUKTU, MALI)

4. CHURCH OF ST. GEORGE, c. 1200 (ETHIOPIA)


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1. Africa joins the rest of Afro-Eurasia via two trade routes: Trans Saharan & Indian Ocean.
2. Besides local beliefs, Africa is dominated by Islam (except in Ethiopia which is Christian).
3. THE empire to know in this period is MALI founded by Sundiata Keita (basis for the Lion King).
4. Mansa Musa is globally the most famous person from Africa in this period. Knowing his story alone gets you a ton of info on Africa in this period (Islam, Trans-Saharan Trade, Wealth, Timbuktu, etc.)
5. The Swahili Coast of the Southeast connects Africa to the Indian Ocean trade and thus, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and China.