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The Trans-Saharan Trade route is the THIRD major one of the Global Tapestry Period (1200-1450). It is the most overlooked and underrated. HOWEVER, you get so much from this trade route. Diasporic communities? Check. Camels with freaking saddles? Check. Astrolabes and other devices to navigate the stars in the biggest desert on the planet? Check. Ibn Battuta? Obvious check… Dude is everywhere. Mansa Musa and Lion Kings? Check. Defeaters of Mongols? (Mamluks) Check. Spread and syncretism of Islam? Check. It’s got everything. Unfortunately, it will be COMPLETELY overshadowed in the next period with ATLANTIC SYSTEM and the Europeans heading over into the Indian Ocean. So… Enjoy it while it lasts. THIS is the Trans-Atlantic Trade Route.

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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 expansion of empires—including Mali in West Africa—facilitated AfroEurasian 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 interregional 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.

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

  • 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

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: MANSA MUSA & ISLAM IN AFRICA (from CRASH COURSE World History)

CLIP #2: WORLD’S TOUGHEST JOB: SALT MINER (These are modern day West African Salt miners and their routes to Timbuktu across the desert via camel caravans) (from NATGEO)

CLIP #3: TRANS-SAHARAN GOLD TRADE

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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. Tarikh al-Fattash, (West African Chronicle written in Arabic) c. 1650 (TIMBUKTU, MALI)

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1. CATALAN ATLAS, c. 1375, (MAJORCA, SPAIN)

2. DRAWING OF TIMBUKTU, c. 1827, RENEE CAILLIE (1st European to visit and return from Timbuktu alive… Notice the Djinguereberer Mosque). (PARIS, FRANCE)

3. HEINRICH BARTH APPROACHING TIMBUKTU ON 7 SEPTEMBER 1853, Martin Bernatz, 1853, (BERLIN, GERMANY)

4. ARAB CARAVAN RESTING BY THE SEA, 1865, JOSEPH BENWELL (KENSINGTON, ENGLAND)

5. 13th CENTURY SLAVE MARKET IN YEMEN, 13th Century, Maqamat Al-Hariri (SYRIA)

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1. The Sub-Saharan world joined the Global Tapestry via this trade route.
2. Sources are limited on this route compared to the others (Ibn Battuta was the first person to go from north of the Sahara and back and write about it and he died in 1369!)
3. The goods being traded along this route are simple: Salt, Gold, Slaves.
4. This area will become overwhelmingly Islamic due to their trading partners across the desert (think Mansa Musa’s pilgrimage)
5. Timbuktu is your major trade city to know. It was the Sub-Saharan center of knowledge and culture for centuries.