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2.7 Comparison in Trade from 1200-1450

8 min readjanuary 3, 2023

Riya Patel

Riya Patel

K

Katie Moore


AP World History: Modern 🌍

577 resources
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Comparison of Economic Exchange

Similarities and Differences Amongst All Trade Networks

There are a number of similarities and differences between various trade networks throughout history. Some examples of trade networks include the Silk Road, the Indian Ocean trade network, and the Trans-Saharan trade network.

Silk Road

The Silk Road was a network of trade routes that stretched from East Asia to the Mediterranean. It was an important trade network during the Middle Ages, and it played a crucial role in the exchange of goods, ideas, and cultures between the East and the West. The Silk Road was named after the Chinese silk that was one of the most valuable and sought-after commodities traded along these routes.
The Silk Road consisted of a series of land-based routes that connected China to the Mediterranean through Central Asia and the Middle East. These routes passed through some of the most treacherous and inhospitable regions in the world, including the Gobi Desert, the Himalayas, and the Taklamakan Desert. Despite the challenges, the Silk Road remained an important trade route for over two thousand years.
Along the Silk Road, merchants and traders exchanged a wide range of goods, including silk, spices, gold, precious stones, and other luxury items. The Silk Road also played a significant role in the transmission of ideas, technologies, and religions, including Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity.
The Silk Road declined in importance with the rise of sea-based trade routes and the growth of European colonialism. However, it remains an important symbol of the exchange and interaction between different cultures and societies.

Indian Ocean Trade

The Indian Ocean trade was a maritime trade network that connected the coastal regions of the Indian Ocean. It was an important trade network during the Middle Ages, and it played a crucial role in the exchange of goods, ideas, and cultures between Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
The Indian Ocean trade was characterized by a diverse group of traders and merchants, including Arabs, Persians, Indians, and Chinese. These traders exchanged a wide range of goods, including spices, gold, precious stones, and other luxury items. The Indian Ocean trade was also an important source of exotic animals and plants, including elephants, rhinoceroses, and tropical fruits.
The Indian Ocean trade was facilitated by the monsoon winds, which allowed ships to sail in a circular pattern around the ocean. This trade network was dominated by the Arab and Indian traders, who controlled the production and trade of spices, which were highly prized in Europe and the Middle East.
The Indian Ocean trade declined in importance with the rise of sea-based trade routes and the growth of European colonialism. However, it remains an important symbol of the exchange and interaction between different cultures and societies.

Trans-Saharan Trade

The Trans-Saharan trade was a land-based trade network that stretched across the Sahara Desert. It was an important trade network during the Middle Ages, and it played a crucial role in the exchange of goods, ideas, and cultures between West Africa and the Mediterranean.
The Trans-Saharan trade was dominated by the Arab and Berber traders, who exchanged a wide range of goods, including gold, salt, ivory, and other luxury items. The Trans-Saharan trade was also an important source of exotic animals and plants, including giraffes, lions, and tropical fruits.
The Trans-Saharan trade was facilitated by the use of camels, which were able to withstand the harsh desert conditions. This trade network was also an important channel for the transmission of Islam and other religions.
The Trans-Saharan trade declined in importance with the rise of sea-based trade routes and the growth of European colonialism. However, it remains an important symbol of the exchange and interaction between different cultures and societies.

Here are some similarities and differences between these trade networks:

Similarities:

  • All of these trade networks were based on the exchange of goods and resources between different regions or countries.
  • They all played a role in the economic development of the regions they connected.
  • They facilitated the exchange of ideas, cultures, and technologies between the different regions they connected.

Differences:

  • The goods traded varied between the different trade networks. For example, the Silk Road was known for the trade of silk, spices, and precious metals, while the Indian Ocean trade network was known for the trade of spices, textiles, and luxury goods.
  • The geographical regions connected by the trade networks differed. The Silk Road connected Asia, Europe, and Africa, while the Indian Ocean trade network connected Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and East Asia.
  • The means of transportation and communication used differed between the trade networks. For example, the Silk Road relied on land-based transportation such as camels, while the Indian Ocean trade network relied on sea-based transportation such as ships.
  • The political and economic context in which the trade networks operated differed. For example, the Silk Road was at times controlled by powerful states or empires, while the Indian Ocean trade network operated in a more decentralized manner.
Similarities and Differences among various trade networks:

Similarities:

  • All respective trade networks demonstrated an exchange of cultural, technological, and biological diffusion within and between various societies
    • Ex. Buddhism along the Silk Roads, Hinduism in the Indian Ocean, Islam in trans-Saharan routes
  • Commercial improvement led to an increase in the volume of trade among these networks which expanded trade networks
  • Trade networks promoted new trading cities
  • Innovations in pre-existing transport and commercial technologies impacted the growth of trade. Innovations such as the caravanserai, forms of credit, and the development of money economies

Differences:

  • The types of exports that these trade networks had were significantly different
    • Silk Roads traded luxury items while Indian Ocean trade common goods in bulk
  • The trade networks produced items that were symbolic to their respective regions
  • Changes in trade routes were a result of increasing productive capacity, with the vital role of social and gender structures and environmental occurrences. 
    • The need for luxury goods increased in Afro-Eurasia
    • Chinese, Persian, and Indian merchants expanded the supply of textiles and porcelains for export
    • Production of iron & steel expanded in China
🎥Watch: WHAP -CCOT-silk, sea, and sand roads
🎥Watch: WHAP -CCOT-indian ocean exchange network

Similarities and Differences Among the Silk Road and Indian Ocean Trade

The Silk Road and the Indian Ocean trade were two major trade networks that flourished during the Middle Ages. These two networks connected Asia, Europe, and Africa, facilitating the exchange of goods, ideas, and cultures.
There are some similarities between the Silk Road and the Indian Ocean trade:
  1. Both networks were extensive and connected different regions of the world.
  2. Both networks facilitated the exchange of a wide range of goods, including silk, spices, gold, and other luxury items.
  3. Both networks served as channels for the transmission of ideas, technologies, and religions.
  4. Both networks were important for the cultural exchange and interaction between different societies.
However, there are also some significant differences between the Silk Road and the Indian Ocean trade:
  1. The Silk Road was a land-based network of trade routes that stretched from East Asia to the Mediterranean. The Indian Ocean trade, on the other hand, was a maritime network of trade routes that connected the coastal regions of the Indian Ocean.
  2. The Silk Road was dominated by the Chinese, who controlled the production and trade of silk. The Indian Ocean trade, on the other hand, was characterized by a more diverse group of traders and merchants, including Arabs, Persians, Indians, and Chinese.
  3. The Silk Road was more vulnerable to bandits and raids, while the Indian Ocean trade was relatively safer due to the presence of powerful naval powers like the Chinese and the Indians.
  4. The Silk Road played a more significant role in the transmission of ideas and religions, while the Indian Ocean trade was more focused on the exchange of goods.

Similarities and Differences Among the Trans-Saharan Trade and Indian Ocean Trade

The Trans-Saharan trade and the Indian Ocean trade were two major trade networks that flourished during the Middle Ages. These two networks connected Africa and Asia, facilitating the exchange of goods, ideas, and cultures.
There are some similarities between the Trans-Saharan trade and the Indian Ocean trade:
  1. Both networks were extensive and connected different regions of the world.
  2. Both networks facilitated the exchange of a wide range of goods, including gold, salt, ivory, and other luxury items.
  3. Both networks served as channels for the transmission of ideas, technologies, and religions.
  4. Both networks were important for the cultural exchange and interaction between different societies.
However, there are also some significant differences between the Trans-Saharan trade and the Indian Ocean trade:
  1. The Trans-Saharan trade was a land-based network of trade routes that stretched across the Sahara Desert. The Indian Ocean trade, on the other hand, was a maritime network of trade routes that connected the coastal regions of the Indian Ocean.
  2. The Trans-Saharan trade was dominated by the Arab and Berber traders, while the Indian Ocean trade was characterized by a more diverse group of traders and merchants, including Arabs, Persians, Indians, and Chinese.
  3. The Trans-Saharan trade was more vulnerable to raids and attacks by bandits, while the Indian Ocean trade was relatively safer due to the presence of powerful naval powers like the Chinese and the Indians.
  4. The Trans-Saharan trade played a more significant role in the transmission of Islam and other religions, while the Indian Ocean trade was more focused on the exchange of goods.

Similarities and Differences Among the Silk Road and Trans-Saharan Trade

The Silk Road and the Trans-Saharan trade were two major trade networks that flourished during the Middle Ages. These two networks connected Asia, Europe, and Africa, facilitating the exchange of goods, ideas, and cultures.
There are some similarities between the Silk Road and the Trans-Saharan trade:
  1. Both networks were extensive and connected different regions of the world.
  2. Both networks facilitated the exchange of a wide range of goods, including silk, spices, gold, and other luxury items.
  3. Both networks served as channels for the transmission of ideas, technologies, and religions.
  4. Both networks were important for the cultural exchange and interaction between different societies.
However, there are also some significant differences between the Silk Road and the Trans-Saharan trade:
  1. The Silk Road was a land-based network of trade routes that stretched from East Asia to the Mediterranean. The Trans-Saharan trade, on the other hand, was a land-based network of trade routes that stretched across the Sahara Desert.
  2. The Silk Road was dominated by the Chinese, who controlled the production and trade of silk. The Trans-Saharan trade, on the other hand, was dominated by the Arab and Berber traders.
  3. The Silk Road was more vulnerable to raids and attacks by bandits, while the Trans-Saharan trade was more vulnerable to attacks by desert predators such as lions and hyenas.
  4. The Silk Road played a more significant role in the transmission of ideas and religions, while the Trans-Saharan trade played a more significant role in the transmission of Islam and other religions.

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