Alexia Deleers Mr. Dimeck AP World History 14 January 2013 The Age of the Trading World The technological advances and discoveries of spices in the Asian continent set the stage for the emergence of world commerce. Being fascinated by the new toys of the East, the West was determined to be a part of what would soon be a global trading market. With new goods being discovered in specific places, those who did not have those goods were ever more eager to obtain them, and the only way this could be done was through trading routes.
Thus surfaced many trading routes that would facilitate the trading of goods all over the world. Two significant trading routes that united the world were the Silk Road and the Indian Ocean Trade Network where each route had it’s positive as well as negative characteristics. The Silk Road Trade was a long network of interlinking trade routes that traveled from China to Western countries specifically European nations. This trading route provided tremendous economic benefits for China as silk was one of the main products that was traded over the road hence the name of the trade route.
Although silk was a major trade, the Silk Road also filtered printing, gunpowder, the compass and more goods from the East into Europe. The Silk Road promoted cultural diffusion as many religions from the West were introduced to Chinese civilizations; from the seventh century AD, Arab Muslims traveled to China via the Silk Road to spread Islam. The road was a great contributor to the cultural, economical, and political exchange between the China and the West and increased trade among many civilizations which ultimately allowed them to expand their possibilities.
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The expansion of possibilities was also capable through the Indian Ocean Trade which was a sea route predominantly between East Africa and India that led through many Spice Islands. The Indian Ocean Trade was known as the world’s richest maritime trading network. During the early Indian Ocean Trade, trade was only made between East Africa and Arabs from Asia. Trade between these two areas was made easy by the monsoon winds that circulated between Asia and the Eastern coast as winds blew north to south and back to north in a circular manner. The winds would change direction with the seasons.
Eastern Africa’s exports in the Indian Ocean Trade consisted of gold, ivory, and iron. These goods were sold at high prices given they were scarce in the Asian world. East African city states were willing to pay a large amount of money for their imports which were goods such as silk, cotton, and porcelain. The small city states that emerged on the coast of Africa traded inland with other great African Kingdoms. Both trading routes were superior to each other in different ways. The Silk Road, although a violent trading network, was a major contributor to the spread of religions and cultures all over the world.
Being a land route, interactions between different peoples was inevitable. On the other hand, the Indian Ocean trade network was a safer one and one that was known as the route of knowledge and academics. This route was able to transport a larger amount of goods from place to place due to the help of large ships. Both routes led economies of trading countries to grow and become more knowledgeable about trading. The Silk Road Network and the Indian Ocean Trade network united the world and were routes that changed the world trading system and the dynamic of the world forever.
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