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The Silk Road is the grand-daddy of them all. This is the big one. This is THE land-based trade network. You know it as a Trade Network, but the Silk Road began as the Han Dynasty was seeking allies to the West to help fight against the dreaded Xiongnu (basically, the bad guys in Mulan). What began as a cry for help developed into a network of trade alliances that eventually spanned Afro-Eurasia.

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Below are the specific KEY CONCEPTS that apply to this sub-unit:

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 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 economy of Song China flourished as a result of increased productive capacity, expanding trade networks, and innovations in agriculture and manufacturing.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Increased cross-cultural interactions resulted in the diffusion of literary, artistic, and cultural traditions, as well as scientific and technological innovation.

    • Chinese cultural traditions continued, and they influenced neighboring regions.

    • Buddhism and its core beliefs continued to shape societies in Asia and included a variety of branches, schools, and practices.

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

    • Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism, and their core beliefs and practices, continued to shape societies in South and Southeast 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.

  • 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.

  • The economy of Song China became increasingly commercialized while continuing to depend on free peasant and artisanal labor.


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CLIP #1: THE SILK ROAD (from CRASH COURSE World History)

CLIP #2: SILK ROAD=EARLY GLOBALIZATION?!?

CLIP #3: SAMARKAND (Quick Travel video by these two dudes… seems to be sponsored by UNESCO…Great look at the architecture of this magnificent city)

CLIP #4: KASHGAR (Gateway to China… this dude takes you on a quick tour)

CLIP #5: CARAVANSERAI

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1. TRAVELS TO THE WEST OF QIU CHANG CHUN, 1228, Qiu Chuji (CHINA)
2. YSTORIA MONGALORUM, c. 1240s, John of Plano Carpini (GERMANY)
3. MERCHANT’s HANDBOOK, c. 1343, Francesco Balducci Pegolotti (FLORENCE, ITALY)
4. EMBASSY TO TAMERLANE, c. 1406, Ruy González de Clavijo (SPAIN)
5. TRAVELS OF PEDRO TAFUR, c. 1439, Pedro Tafur (SPAIN)

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1. The Silk Road started with the Han Chinese well before this period.
2. The Silk Road was never one “road”, rather a connection of trade routes.
3. The Silk Road served as THE trade route in this period.
4. The Silk Road did not just carry silk. There were goods, technology, religions and diseases.
5. The Silk Road peaks here. In the next period, the Atlantic System and Indian Ocean trade will be more heavily featured.