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An Exploration of Cross-Culture Contacts in Eleventh- Century Eastern Europe Click Here to Get Started!

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1 An Exploration of Cross-Culture Contacts in Eleventh- Century Eastern Europe Click Here to Get Started!

2 Hi! My name is Karl. Welcome to 11 th -century Russia! If what I’ve heard is true, you want to become a successful Varangian merchant, just like me! I’m here to help you organize a trading expedition to Greece. To begin, please click the rune at the bottom right of the screen

3 Good job! You can also click the rune on the left to go back in the presentation, or you can click on the village button underneath me to go to the Village Screen any time. Why don’t you go ahead and try that now?

4 Welcome to our humble little Varangian village. As you can see, there are a lot of places for us to explore. Clicking on the shipyard will take us there to learn about different kinds of ships. Shipyard Market Great Hall Docks

5 Clicking on the Market will help us learn about different trading goods. Clicking on the Great Hall will let us meet some of the folks who live here. And last but not least, clicking on the Docks will let us set sail for Greece to see what you’ve learned! Shipyard Market Great Hall Docks

6 Well, don’t let me hold you back! Go ahead and get started exploring! Shipyard Market Great Hall Docks

7 This is the village shipyard. Let’s take a tour of all the different ships currently docked here. This first ship is called a karve. Ships like these are usually around 70 ft. long, with a shallow hull so they can sail down rivers and close to shore. We use karves for short distance travel and transporting livestock.

8 This second ship here is what we call a faering. It’s even smaller than a karve—not something you’d use for carrying a lot of cargo! Like a lot of our ships, faerings can be oar-powered, or sail-powered, or both. We usually use faerings for either fishing or recreational racing. It’s also not uncommon to take faerings on board larger ships, to use them as lifeboats or to send crews out to maneuver shallower water.

9 Now this great big ship here is what’s called a longship. This is the sort of ship we’re most famous for—it’s built using a method similar to the way we make karves or faerings, but on a much larger scale. Longships get used often in wartimes to go on quick-hit-and-run raids and to sail long distances between battles, but they’re also useful during times of peace. They can sail over the open ocean from trading port to trading port, carrying a good deal of cargo in their great long hulls.

10 We call this a knarr. Now as you can see, a knarr is also much bigger than a karve or a faering, but its proportions are different from a longship. It’s not as long, it’s much wider, and the hull’s not as shallow. Now knars aren’t as fast or sturdy as longships, so they aren’t very useful in a raid. When it comes to trading, however, the wider, deeper hull of knarr means it can carry more goods and supplies, and the way it’s rigged means it can sail with a smaller crew.

11 Ah, now what we have here is a visiting Greek ship called a cog that came to trade with our village. It’s not clipper-built, like one of our ships—that means the planks don’t overlap. See how wide the cog is? It’s even wider than that knarr we were just looking at, and the hull is deeper too. Can you guess what kind of cargo it’s carrying? Horses. Because they’re built so wide, cogs are often used to transport horses so they can exercise and have plenty of room.

12 Have you ever gone car-shopping back home in 21 st -century America? Do you have a dream car that you’d like to own? How do you think that might compare to a Varangian merchant searching for a ship to buy? Tell me what you think in the textbox!

13 This is the village market. All kinds of local goods and merchandise from around the world is bought and sold here. One good we trade a lot with the Greeks are walrus tusks, believe it or not! They don’t have walruses down south, but Greeks like to use the ivory from their tusks to inlay designs on art and architecture—and even book covers!

14 We also manage to sell a lot of salted cod down south, too. Now, I don’t mean to brag, but our Varangian drying techniques here in Russia are the most sophisticated means of preserving 11 th -century seafood! We can carry cod that we’ve preserved for thousands of miles without it spoiling. That way, we can sell it in huge quantities down in Greece.

15 One kind of good we trade back and forth with the Greeks a lot is luxury clothing. They love buying exotic polar bear hides whenever we bring some down south—it’s not every day you can embroider a snappy piece of clothing with polar bear fur. In exchange, the Greeks sometimes give us this strange fabric called silk—we have no idea how the fabric itself gets made, but our tailors can turn raw silk into all sorts of fine clothing.

16 What else do we Varangian merchants buy down in Byzantium, Greece? Well, they produce a lot of exotic luxuries, like perfumes, spices, and spiced perfumes.

17 The Greeks are also sometimes our middlemen when it comes to trading with the Arabs and North Africans. Arab merchants will land in the Greek city of Byzantium, then start selling ornate engraved silverware and finely crafted jewelry. Sometimes we buy Arabic silver off the Greeks, and sometimes we buy it straight off of visiting Arabs.

18 Us Varangians and the Greeks traded all kinds of goods with each other and the rest of the world. What are some common goods you can use every day back in 21 st century America that come from another country? Tell me what you think in the textbox!

19 Let’s meet some of my friends up here at the Hall! This is my friend Farlo, our local lawspeaker. Farlo has a pretty prestigious position—he memorizes all our country’s laws so that he can advise our chieftains and enforce old laws and precedent.

20 This here is the Great Hall’s steward, Sveinn. Sveinn works with our chieftain to organize feasts and festival, and he manages the chief’s serving staff on a day-to-day basis. He and I work together pretty frequently, since he buys a lot of the goods I bring back from Greece to outfit the chieftain’s residence.

21 Now meet two of our local lay clerics—Father Farulf and Sister Astrid! They don’t always agree on theological issues—Farulf is a member of the Orthodox Church native to Greece, and Astrid is part of the Arius movement that originated in Italy—but at the end of the day, they get along pretty well personally.

22 Here’s Old Bjorn. He used to work as one of the mercenaries that the Greek Emperor regularly employs as bodyguards. It’s a little odd to think about, but nobody from Russia has closer contact with Greece’s aristocracy or knows them better than the mercenaries they hire on a regular basis.

23 Here’s my friend Sigrun, our village Skald! She’s something of a local historian, but part of her duties also involve her musical talents. Any major events that happen here or in the surrounding countryside get recorded by her in the form of folk music to be repeated from generation to generation. Click here to hear the kind of music Sigrun plays!

24 As we just saw, there were all kinds of jobs in a Varangain village in 11 th century Russia. Out of all the folks we met, who would you most like to work with or for. Why? Tell me what you think in the textbox!

25 Think you know everything you need to set sail for Greece? Yes? Good! Let’s go!

26  Before we set sail for Byzantium, we’re gonna need to buy a ship! For this expedition, we want to sail across open ocean, carrying lots and lots of cargo with the smallest crew possible. What sort of ship should we buy?  A karve  A knarr  A longship  A faering

27  You chose a karve…not necessarily the best pick. Remember, a karve isn’t really built on a scale that enables it to carry a lot of cargo or go sailing across the open ocean or sea. Maybe we should look for a different ship to buy?

28  You chose a longship…not necessarily the best pick. Remember, longships’ size and sleek hull may make them good for sailing over the open ocean, but their proportions mean that they require a large crew to man them and they can’t carry a lot of cargo in comparison. Maybe we should look for a different ship to buy?

29  You chose a faering…not necessarily the best pick. Remember, faerings are pretty small vessels that are really only intended for coastal excursions, river travel, fishing and recreational races. Maybe we should look for a different ship to buy?

30  Good job! You chose a knarr--that sure seems like a great choice to me. A knarr like the one you just bought for us is large enough to sail over open oceans and seas, but it’s proportioned so that it can carry a lot of cargo with a proportionally small crew.

31  Say we want to take a smaller ship aboard our knarr in case we want to split up our crew our sail down some shallow rivers. What sort of ship should we buy to bring aboard?  A karve  A faering  A cog

32  You chose a karve…not necessarily the best pick. Remember, even though a karve won’t be as big as our knarr, it’s still not small enough for us to bring it aboard and have it fit comfortably. Maybe there’s another sort of vessel better suited for this kind of thing?

33  You chose a cog…not necessarily the best pick. Remember, cogs aren’t native to our country, so it’ll be a little tricky for us to get our hands on one, and most cogs are at least as big as our knarr is—not the easiest thing to bring aboard. Maybe there’s another sort of vessel better suited for this kind of thing?

34  Good job! You chose a faering--that sure seems like a great choice to me. A faering like the one you just bought are small enough for us to bring aboard our knarr pretty easily, and their hull is shallow enough to sail down any rivers we might want to venture down.

35  There’s a bookseller we know in Byzantium who’s looking to emboss some of his books. What could we bring to sell him to emboss his books with?  Gold  Birchwood  Walrus Tusks  Sharkskin

36  You chose gold…that may not be the best choice. A Byzantine bookseller sure might like to emboss his books with gold, but gold is so expensive that I’m not sure we’d get a great return rate, and there isn’t a lot of it in our village. Maybe there’s something else we could sell him that we’d get a better deal on?

37  You chose birchwood…that may not be the best choice. A Byzantine bookseller might like to try embossing his books with birchwood, but there aren’t a wealth of birch trees that grow around our village. Maybe there’s something else we could sell him that we’d get a better deal on?

38  You chose sharkskin…that may not be the best choice. Sharks aren’t super common in the cold seas of Russia, and I don’t really fancy trying to convince a shark to part with its skin. Maybe there’s something else we could sell him that we’d get a better deal on?

39  Good job! You chose walrus tusks--that sure seems like a great choice to me. We know from past experience that the Greeks love using the ivory from walrus tusks to put inlays in all sorts of things, including book covers, and they’re usually willing to pay high prices for something that’s so hard for them to get their hands on.

40  There’s a luxury clothing shop in Greece we’ve traded with before. What could we give them in exchange for fine silk?  Mill-spun Wool  Polar Bear Pelts  Indigo Cloth  Hawk Feathers

41  You chose mill-spun wool…but I’m not sure how we’re going to get enough of that in our village. We don’t have too many wool mills out in rural Russia, and even if we could get our hands on some mill-spun wool, we probably couldn’t find enough to get a lot of silk in return. Maybe there’s something else we could sell trade that we’d get a better deal on?

42  You chose indigo cloth…but I’m not sure how we’re going to get enough of that in our village. We don’t have too many of the plants that make indigo dye growing out in rural Russia, and even if we could get our hands on some of the dye supplies, we probably couldn’t find enough to get a lot of silk in return. Maybe there’s something else we could sell trade that we’d get a better deal on?

43  You chose hawk feathers…but I’m not sure how we’re going to sell a lot of that in Greece. We certainly might be able to get our hands on some feathers from the hawks that live near our village, but I don’t think hawk feathers see a lot of use in current Greek fashion. Maybe there’s something else we could sell trade that we’d get a better deal on?

44  Awesome! You chose polar bear pelts--that sounds like a plan to me. Greeks love trimming their clothes with fine white fur, and polar bears are exotic enough that we can usually make a pretty hefty profit trading their pelts in exchange for lots and lots of silk.

45  There’s a lot of demand for silverware made of actual silver back home in the village. Who should we look for in Greece to buy fine engraved silver silverware from?  Indian Silversmiths  Persian Merchants  German Craftsmen  Arab Traders

46  You chose Indian silversmiths…but I don’t know if that’s the wisest choice. Not a lot of people from India make it all the way to Greece, and we might have a difficult time finding Indian merchants to sell us silver. Maybe there’s someone else we should be keeping an eye out for…

47  You chose Persian merchants…but I don’t know if that’s the wisest choice. Persia’s not always on the best of terms with Byzantium when it comes to foreign relations, and I’m not sure if we’ll be able to find many Persian merchants when we get to Greece. Maybe there’s someone else we should be keeping an eye out for…

48  You chose German craftsmen…but I don’t know if that’s the wisest choice. Germans sometimes travel south to trade with the Greeks, but their craftsmen aren’t very well known for specializing in engraved silver. Maybe there’s someone else we should be keeping an eye out for…

49  Nice work! You Arab traders—they’re definitely some of the folks we should be looking for once we get there if we want to buy any engraved silver. Remember, Arab merchant ships visit Byzantium frequently, and they often bring ornately engraved silverwork with them.

50  As we pull up in a Greek port, we see a big, wide Greek cog sailing north loaded down with some sort of cargo. What kind of goods can we expect these Greeks to be selling?  Horse  Corn  Wine  Pottery

51  Hmm…I don’t think that cog is going to be carrying any corn up north, seeing as the Greeks don’t grow any corn to speak of. What else could that cargo be?

52  Hmm…Greeks are known for producing pretty elaborate pottery, but I don’t know if they’d use a big wide cog like that to transport it—try to imagine fragile pottery rattling around in its massive hull. What else could that cargo be?

53  Hmm…Greeks do sometimes sail north to sell their wine, but that cog seems pretty big and wide to be loaded down with just wine. What else could that cargo be?

54  That sounds like a pretty educated guess to me—good work! Remember that cogs often specialize in carrying horses to different markets, because their width and girth means that the horses can exercise and have plenty of room to travel comfortably.

55 We want to make sure that we have plenty of goods to sell when we get to Greece— the polar bear furs and ivory we’re bringing with us should sell for high prices, but is there anything we have a surplus of back home that we could bring all the way to Byzantium to sell a lot of it at low prices?  Perfume  Wheat Bread  Cod

56  Well, there are a lot of perfume markets in Byzantium, but most of them are supplied by Greek merchants—our village doesn’t produce very much perfume, so if we find perfume shop while we’re in Greece, we’re more likely to buy perfume than to sell it. What else could we bring with us?

57  Well, we do bake a lot of bread in our village, and we wouldn’t have too much trouble selling a lot of it at low prices in Greece. However, it’s a long, long voyage from our Varangian village to Byzantium, and the bread would probably be stale or spoiled when we got there. What else could we bring with us that might keep better?

58  I think bringing lots of salted cod with us to sell sounds like a great plan! Remember that the sort of salting technique we use preserves cod caught by our village’s fishing boats very efficiently, and we could probably bring tons and tons of cod with us without having to worry about it spoiling. Excellent idea!

59  As we’re leaving for Greece, we find out that a Greek church might be interested in buying some of the ivory we’re bringing with us. Who could we bring along with us who would get along best with the representatives of a Greek church?  Farlo the the Lawspeaker  Sister Astrid the Arian Priestess  Father Farulf the Orthodox Priest

60  Farlo is a very educated man, but most of his academic background deals with legal history and secular matters instead of spiritual ones. I don’t know if he’d particularly offend any of the priesthood, but he might not have many contacts in any Greek churches. Who else could we bring with us?

61  Well, Sister Astrid is a very religious woman, but she’s a member of the Arius school of Christianity that originated in Italy—they have quite a few theological differences with the churches that started off in Greece, and Greek priests don’t always get along with the priests of Arius churches. Who else could we bring with us?

62  I think you’re on the right track bringing Father Farulf with us. He’s an Orthodox priest, after all, and almost all of the churches we might visit while we’re in Greece are likely to be members of the Orthodox sect. Farulf will probably get along with most of the Greek priests on a doctrinal level, and he may even have some contacts and old friends in some of Byzantium’s Orthodox churches.

63  We also hear that some of the local Greek aristocracy might be interested in meeting with us to discuss future trade agreements with our village. Who could we bring with us who’s had a lot of experience dealing with Greek nobility?  Sveinn the Steward  Bjorn the Ex-Mercenary  Farlo the Lawspeaker  Sister Astrid the Arius Priestess

64  Sveinn is a skilled administrator employed by our local aristocrats, but all of his dealings have been with our village’s nobility and visiting Russian aristocrats—he doesn’t have a lot of experience dealing with the upper class of Greek society. Who else could we bring with us?

65  Farlo’s duties advising our chieftains and enforcing the laws laid down by their predecessors means that he has a lot of experience working with members of the Russian upper class, but his job is focused entirely around domestic law and legal disputes that don’t extend past Varangian civilization—he hasn’t had much opportunity to work with foreign officials and aristocrats. Who else could we bring with us?

66  Sister Astrid is an agent of a foreign church, but the Arius faith tradition she’s a part of is native to the Italian peninsula. Although some of her work outside of our village brought her into touch with foreign aristocrats, most of it saw her tending to the spiritual needs of Italy’s upper class—she doesn’t have much experience with any Greeks. Who else could we bring with us?

67  I think bringing Bjorn with us is an awesome idea—good job! Bjorn spent most of his career as a mercenary working as a bodyguard for Byzantium’s aristocracy and members of the Imperial Court. He’s had a lot of past experience working with the upper class of Greek society, and he should still have some contacts in the courts of powerful Greek households.

68  I also heard of an unconventional opportunity for us to make a profit in Byzantium. There’s a school of philosophers and poets living there who are interested in researching Russian history, and they’re paying good money for folktales and historical records. Who could we take with us who might know those kinds of details?  Sigrun the Skald  Farlo the Lawspeaker  Sveinn the Steward

69  Farlo does have an extensive knowledge of Russia’s legal history, but he’s not particularly well-versed in any folktales or historical events that exist outside his judicial specialty. Is there anybody else who might have a broader knowledge of Russian history that we could bring with us?

70  Sveinn’s employment at the hands of our village’ hereditary rulers does mean that he has some knowledge of the family histories of Russian aristocrats, but other than recounting the bloodlines of the Russian nobility, he isn’t particularly well-studied when it comes to our people’s history. Is there anybody else who might have a broader knowledge of Russian history that we could bring with us?

71  Bringing Sigrun along sounds like an excellent idea to me! Her duties as Varangian skald means that she’s constantly learning and recording Russian history and folktales in lyrical form, and I think the Greek scholars we might meet with would be fascinated to hear what she can teach them. Good job!

72 Well, it looks like it’s time for you, me, Father Farulf, Bjorn and Sigrun to set sail with the rest of our crew in our new knarr! I’ve got a great feeling about this new trading expedition, and I hope you know how helpful you were setting all this up. Hope you learned a lot too! See you soon! Watch our voyage to Byzantium, Greece unfold on a map!


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