2 Trade Routes & Products Trade was important during the Middle Ages, and many trade routes to Asia, Africa, and the Middle East went through areas under Arab and Turkish rule. Goods such as silk, spices, and new crops passed through these trade routes, as did new inventions such as paper, textiles, and steel.Merchants became an important class in Arab society because they sold goods and negotiated trades. The wealth they earned from trade had enabled the merchants to gain power. As a result, the merchants had great influence in many Arab societies.
4 Silk RoadThe Silk Road was a trade route that connected Asia and Europe. It was used to trade silk, gold, ivory, exotic animals, spices, and other goods. Towns along the Silk Road profited as businesses provided services to travelers. Though the Silk Road was in existence even since prehistory, there were periods when it was not used as much. In the 1200s, the Silk Road re-opened when Marco Polo made a trip through Asia to China. While in China, Marco Polo became friends with the Chinese ruler Kublai Khan. Polo traveled around China and documented his travels in a journal. His tales about his travels increased European interest in places in the Far East like China.
5 ExplorersIbn Battuta was an explorer during the 1300s. Originally, Battuta began traveling on a pilgrimage to Mecca, but he continued to travel and explore for the next 30 years. Battuta recorded his travels in a book, which gives modern readers a first hand account of life and culture in the medieval times.A man by the name of Zheng He was sent on seven expeditions by the Ming Dynasty between 1405 and Zheng He sailed throughout the Indian Ocean and reached the eastern coast of Africa. Zheng He traded Chinese goods and demanded tribute from foreign leaders. These voyages resulted in the spread of Chinese culture to the areas visited by Zheng He.
6 ExplorationBy the 1400s, sea exploration became more important to Europeans. This is because Europeans wanted to find a new trade route to Asia from Europe. At this time, the land routes to Asia were not under European control. The Europeans believed it would be a good idea to try and find a way to trade directly with places like China. Many explorers went to find this new route. Some sailed south around Africa, and others, like Christopher Columbus, sailed west across the Atlantic Ocean. Cartography is the study and practice of making maps. Advances were made in cartography during the Age of Exploration. Development of better maps made it easier to explore new lands.