III. The Postclassical Period, 500–1500 > A. Global and Comparative Dimensions > 2. The High Postclassical Period, 1000–1500 > b. Interregional Exchanges
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  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
 
 
b. Interregional Exchanges
 
COMMERCIAL AND MATERIAL. Expansion efforts involved increasing interregional exchanges of goods. Traveling merchants were often a major vehicle for creating broad interregional networks.  1
Trade routes in the great overland and oceanic networks increased in importance. The Silk Road of central Eurasia flourished in the era of Mongol power, but gradually declined in importance as other routes developed and security became less reliable following the breakup of the Mongol Empire. Indian Ocean trade increased, first under the leadership of local groups from southern Arabia, India, and Southeast Asia, and then outside groups, such as the Chinese, became involved. A trade network was established linking East African commercial city-states with the Middle East, India, and emerging commercial centers like Malacca in Southeast Asia. At the beginning of the 16th century, the Portuguese were able to dominate this system and link it directly, rather than through Mediterranean intermediaries, with Europe. Products exchanged continued to include spices from Southeast Asia and other expensive goods, but bulk goods, like sugar and textiles, were increasingly involved. Trans-Saharan trade continued to flourish between the Mediterranean lands and central Africa, but this was increasingly superseded by the coastal trade that developed with the emergence of the city-states of East Africa and especially with Portuguese expansion in the 15th century. The SLAVE TRADE came to be a major element in this commercial network as trade in the Atlantic developed.  2
BUBONIC PLAGUE, or Black Death, spread interregionally along trade routes through the exchange of bulk goods like grains. It began in the 1320s in the Gobi Desert, from which it spread to China. It began moving west in 1339; hit the Middle East and North Africa in 1347–48; reached Sicily in 1347, France in 1348, and western Russia in 1351. Major population losses occurred in China, India, the Middle East, and Europe.  3
 
1000–1500
 
TECHNOLOGICAL AND SCIENTIFIC EXCHANGES. New technologies were exchanged relatively rapidly as they developed in the major societies. The MAGNETIC COMPASS was developed in China and was adopted as a navigational tool by western Europeans. This and other developments in navigation transformed the nature of oceanic travel. GUNPOWDER was originally developed in China around 1000, but it had limited use there until Mongols began to use “bombs” in sieges and the Ming military developed some form of cannon. Other states developed artillery and hand-carried weapons to give them military firepower. Cannons helped to defeat castle-based nobility and, by 1500, the more successful centralized states were “gunpowder empires” (See Global and Comparative Dimensions). These included the Ottoman and emerging Russian Empires as well as the European monarchies.  4
 
 
 
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

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