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Trade and connections throughout the Classical Era

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1 Trade and connections throughout the Classical Era
Sub-Saharan Indian Ocean Trade Silk Road Mediterranean

2 Explain sub-Saharan cultural diversity and cultural unity in the period between 300 B.C.E. and 1100 C.E. Sub-Saharan cultural diversity was the result of several factors, including the vastness of the African continent and its many distinct environmental regions. The absence of convenient transportation routes made travel between those regions extremely difficult. Those natural barriers contributed to cultural diversity by helping form distinctive regional economies and modes of subsistence; they also prevented large-scale military conquest. frica’s great size and low population density reduced, but did not eliminate, contact and exchange between African peoples. Sub-Saharan Africans did not share a common language or legal, social, or economic systems. Consequently, African cultural unity was based on “small traditions,” or popular and local culture, rather than on “great traditions”. Cultural unity in Africa was complex because it was shaped by migration and social interaction within Africa and developed in isolation from the outside world.

3 includes travelers’ accounts
includes travelers’ accounts. How are these accounts useful in understanding the nature of society? Although we are examining regions through the perspective of the traveler, their accounts are invaluable as they represent an outsiders perspective. The variety of products, animals, and technology is also revealed by the travelers. As in The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, the interconnectedness of the trade routes is described, reveal the concept of networks that provide regional sharing and spreading of ideas, religions, and technologies. The traveler’s account can reveal bias and priorities about how wealth and prosperity are signified and what is valued by both the traveler and the society on which is being examined.

4 Describe the introduction of the camel into the Sahara, including its origins and uses.
The first use of camels in Africa was in Egypt, dating from about the first millennium B.C.E. Camels are not native to Africa and were most likely brought from Arabia. Camel use probably spread south along the Nile into the Sudan, and then west into the central Saharan highlands. A s the remaining grasslands in the Sahara dried up and disappeared, camels became increasingly responsible for the growth of the trans-Saharan trade. Whereas the saddles used on North African camels were designed for trade and transport, the saddles on central and south Saharan camels indicate that they were used by warriors who fought with swords and spears from those saddles. As the long-distance trade across the Sahara became better established, the saddles of those camels evolved into a type more useful for commerce.

5 What were environmental and social conditions in the Sahara before it became a desert?
The current dry period began about 2500 B.C.E. During the transition to the present conditions, the stretches of desert between grassy and better-watered areas broadened. By about 300 B.C.E. the desert was large enough to restrict passage to a few difficult routes known only to desert nomads. The Sahara had formerly been so well watered that its wildlife included elephants and crocodiles. As desiccation progressed, Africans turned from hunting to cattle herding. When the region could no longer support cattle, horse breeders flourished. Finally, camels became the dominant animal form as the desert broadened and permanent settlements could no longer be maintained there. The best evidence historians have is in the vast numbers of Saharan rock paintings and engravings, which depict the various stages in the evolution of desert life.

6 The trade routes integrate trade, religion, and politics.
Describe how the spread of Christianity to Armenia and Ethiopia represents the struggle for control of the region where the Silk Road met the Mediterranean traders. The trade routes integrate trade, religion, and politics. Armenia is located between the Iranian states and the Mediterranean states and therefore become a “battleground” for control between these political and cultural entities. The development of an Armenian alphabet facilitated the spread of Christianity in Armenia. In the case of Ethiopia, students should understand the efforts of the Roman emperors of Constantinople in controlling the region. The Syrian missionary and Aedisius and Frumetius were instrumental in the establishment of Christianity. In addition, the impact of Christian merchants in establishing Christian communities also was important in the spread of Christianity to this East African kingdom.

7 What were some of the technological advances that the Silk Road was responsible for?
Advances were made in areas such as agriculture, husbandry, and warfare were sometimes created but most definitely spread along the Silk Road. The agricultural products exchanged along the Silk Road became important economically as well as helping to diversify people’s diets. Advances in horse and camel breeding were also closely linked to the road. Hybrid camels are one example of an improvement expressly designed to overcome the limitations of the road’s climate and length. hose camels were bred so specifically for travel on the Silk Road that their numbers declined rapidly as the use of the road itself declined. The nature of warfare was dramatically changed by the invention of the stirrup, which gave mounted troops enormous advantages over their opponents.

8 Why can the Silk Road be described as a social system rather than simply as a transportation route?
In addition to transporting goods, the Silk Road was important in the exchange of ideas and cultures. Because of its size and isolated nature, it was not dominated by any one culture or state. As trade became increasingly important to the peoples along the road, there was a trend toward moving from the countryside to the cities and trading centers, thus fundamentally altering people’s lives. Cultural exchange along the road was particularly evident in religion. Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism combined to create a complex culture, which affected both the peoples along the road and those far beyond.

9 How does the Indian Ocean trade compare with the Mediterranean Sea trade? Are they different worlds?
The different environment, technology, and goods shaped each of these worlds differently. In the Mediterranean, sailors used square sails and long banks of oars to sail to the many islands and into small harbors. Indian Ocean vessels used lateen sails and rode the winds rather than using oarsmen. Mediterranean sailors were rarely out of sight of land, whereas the Indian Ocean sailors sailed long distances entirely at sea. Mediterranean traders also often established colonies to galvanize trade contacts, whereas Indian Ocean contacts were less frequent and therefore seldom resulted in political ties. The Mediterranean basin was also smaller and more competitive because of a smaller number of goods—copper, tin, wine, olive oil, and pottery. The competition sparked recurrent warfare and rivalry in the Mediterranean but did not plague the Indian Ocean world, which was primarily concerned with population movements and the exchange of goods and ideas. Although the volume of goods in the Indian Ocean was lower than in the Mediterranean Sea, the trade in the Indian Ocean included a large variety of highly valued goods.

10 In addition, there are new religious ideas evident in the paintings.
Art reveals many things about the world. What can we learn about the Silk Road by examining paintings found in the different societies along this trade route? How do you think this compares to paintings that might appear in our diverse and worldly community? The examination of art provides a creative way for students to realize how historical stories are revealed. There is a diversity of life along the Silk Road, specifically the Iranian-speaking and Turkish-speaking people. The ethnic mix in Silk Road cities and villages, as well as the prosperity that the trade created, is revealed in the paintings. Many of the fabrics and animals from different regions that were traded along the Silk Road are represented in the paintings as evidence of this. In addition, there are new religious ideas evident in the paintings. The historian learns that these villages and trading cities had interest in Buddhism as well as Christianity, Manichaeism, Zoroastrianism, and Islam.

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