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Trade Routes:
Silk Road, Indian Ocean, TransSaharan
The spread of economic activity,
religion, and disease through trade
Essential Question:
► How
were the Trans-Saharan Trade, Indian
Ocean and Silk Routes similar?
► How
were these trade routes different?
► Essay
Q: Compare and Contrast the TransSaharan trade, Indian Ocean trade and Silk
Impact of Trade
► Brought
wealth and access to foreign
products and enabled people to concentrate
their efforts on economic activities best
suited to their regions
► Facilitated the spread of religious
traditions beyond their original homelands
► Facilitated the transmission of disease
Checks for Understanding (CFU)
► Economic
activity: What would an example of a
commodity in West Africa that may have helped
bring economic prosperity?
► Religion:
Provide an example of a religion/religious
philosophy that was spread by trade?
► Disease:
What disease was spread as a result of
trade? Which empire is primarily responsible for
this outbreak?
Classical Civilizations
Classical empires such as the Han, Kushan, Parthian, and Roman
brought order and stability to large territories
 They undertook massive construction projects to improve
transportation infrastructure
 The expanding size of the empires brought them within close
proximity to or even bordering on each other
As classical empires reduced the costs of long-distance
trade, merchants began establishing an extensive network
of trade routes that linked much of Eurasia and northern
Collectively, these routes are known as the “Silk Roads”
because high-quality silk from China was one of the
principal commodities exchanged over the roads
Where did it go?
Linked China and the Holy Roman Empire
 The two extreme ends of Eurasia
Started in the Han capital of Chang’an and went west to the
Taklamakan Desert
 There the road split into two main branches that skirted the desert
to the north and south
In northern Iran, the route joined with roads to ports on
the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf and proceeded to
Palmyra (modern Syria)
 There it met roads coming from Arabia and ports on the Red Sea
The Silk Roads also provided access at ports like
Guangzhou in southern China that led to maritime routes
to India and Ceylon (modern-day Sri Lanka)
Organization of Long-distance Trade
► Individual
merchants usually did not travel from
one end of Eurasia to the other
► Instead they handled long-distance trade in stages
Silk Road Trade to the West
Chinese silk making
Silk and spices traveled west from
southeast Asia, China, and India
 China was the only country in
classical times where cultivators
and weavers had developed
techniques for producing highquality silk fabrics
 Spices served not just to season
food but also as drugs,
anesthetics, aphrodisiacs,
perfumes, aromatics, and magical
Silk Road Trade to the East
► Central
Asia produced large, strong horses and
jade that was highly prized by Chinese stone
► The Roman empire traded glassware, jewelry,
works of art, decorative items, perfumes, bronze
goods, wool and linen textiles, pottery, iron tools,
olive oil, wine, and gold and silver bullion
 Mediterranean merchants and manufacturers often
imported raw materials such as uncut gemstones which
they exported as finished products in the form of
expensive jewelry and decorative items
Spread of Religion: Buddhism and
Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha) first
announced his doctrine publicly in
India in 528 B.C.
 By the 3rd Century B.C., Buddhism was
well-established in northern India
Buddhism was especially successful in
attracting merchants as converts
 Merchants carried Buddhism along the
Silk Roads where it first established a
presence in the oasis towns where
merchants and their caravans stopped
for food, rest, lodging, and markets
Hinduism also spread along the Silk
Roads, primarily along the sea lanes
Spread of Religion: Christianity
Antioch, the western
terminus of the overland Silk
Roads, was an important
center in early Christianity
Like other religions,
Christianity followed the
trade routes and expanded
east throughout
Mesopotamia, Iran, and as
far away as India
However, its greatest
concentration was in the
Mediterranean basin, where
the Roman Roads, like the
Silk Roads, provided ready
Disease: Bubonic Plague
► During
the 1330s plague erupted in southwestern
► During the 1340s, Mongols, merchants, and other
travelers helped to spread the disease along trade
routes to points west of China
► It thrived in the trading cities of central Asia where
domestic animals and rodents provided abundant
breeding grounds for fleas and the plague bacillus
► By 1346 it had reached the Black Sea ports of
Caffa and Tana
Bubonic Plague in Europe
► In
1347 Italian
merchants fled the
plague-infected Black
Sea ports and
unwittingly spread the
disease to the
Mediterranean Basin
► By 1348, following
trade routes, plague
had sparked epidemics
in most of western
Illustration of bubonic
plague in the Toggenburg
Bible (1411)
End of Silk Road
The spread of the bubonic plague
and the collapse of the Mongol
Empire made overland travel on
the Silk Roads more dangerous
than before
Muslim mariners began avoiding
the overland route and bringing
Asian goods to Cairo where Italian
merchants purchased them for
distribution in western Europe
Europeans wanted access to those
Asian goods without having to go
through the Muslim middlemen
They began seeking maritime
trade routes directly to Asia which
would largely displace the Silk
European Explorations
► What
were the three main impacts of the
Silk Trade Routes?
► Why
did the Silk Trade Routes come to an
► Which
religion has not been mentioned
yet? Why do you think this is the case?
Indian Ocean Trade: Monsoon
► The
Indian Ocean trade increased between
1200 and 1500
► It
was stimulated by the prosperity of Latin
Europe, Asian, and African states
► It
was also stimulated in the fourteenth
century, by the collapse of the overland
trade routes
Indian Ocean Trade
“Zone of
First ocean to be
“Sailor's ocean”
 Warm water
 Fairly placid waters
 Wind patterns: one
way = north of
equator, the other =
south of the equator
Lateen Sail allowed
sailors to sail across
the Indian ocean,
could sail into wind
Indian Ocean Trade Cont.
► In
the Red and
Arabian Seas, trade
was carried on
dhows. From India
on to Southeast
Asia, junks
dominated the trade
► Junks
advanced vessels,
having watertight
up to twelve
sails, and
carrying cargoes
of up to 1,000
Indian Ocean Trade
► Junks
were developed in China, but during
the fifteenth century, junks were also built
in Bengal and Southeast Asia and sailed
with crews from those places
► The Indian Ocean trade was decentralized
and cooperative, with various regions
supplying particular goods
Trade Goods
► Teak from India
► Mangrove swamps in East Africa
► Arabian horses to India
► Spices from Southeast Asia &
Spice Islands
► Frankincense from Arabia and
► ***Desired far beyond the Indian
Ocean world
► Slave trades & labor migrations
 Slaves from East Africa to
 From Southeast Asia to Southern
Africa: The Swahili Coast and
► By
1500, there were thirty or forty separate
city-states along the East African coast
participating in the Indian Ocean trade
► The people of these coastal cities, the
“Swahili” people, all spoke an African
language enriched with Arabic and Persian
Africa and Indian Ocean Trade
► Swahili
cities, including Kilwa, were famous
as exporters of gold that was mined in or
around the inland kingdom whose capital
was Great Zimbabwe.
► Great Zimbabwe’s economy rested on
agriculture, cattle herding, and trade.
► The city declined due to an ecological crisis
brought on by deforestation and
Arabia: Aden and the Red Sea
► Aden
had enough rainfall to produce wheat
for export and a location that made it a
central transit point for trade from the
Persian Gulf, East Africa, and Egypt
► Aden’s merchants prospered on this trade
and built what appeared to travelers to be a
wealthy and impressive city.
Indian Ocean trade cont.
► In
general, a common interest in trade
allowed the various peoples and religions of
the Indian Ocean basin to live in peace
► Violence did sometimes break out, however,
as when Christian Ethiopia fought with the
Muslims of the Red Sea coast over control
of trade.
India: Gujarat and the Malabar
► The
state of Gujarat prospered from the
Indian Ocean trade, exporting cotton
textiles and indigo in return for gold and
► Gujarat was not simply a commercial
center; it was also a manufacturing center
that produced textiles, leather goods,
carpets, silk, and other commodities
► Gujarat’s overseas trade was dominated by
Muslims, but Hindus also benefited.
and Malabar Coast Continued…
► Calicut
and other cities of the Malabar Coast
exported cotton textiles and spices and
served as clearing-houses for long-distance
► The cities of the Malabar Coast were unified
in a loose confederation whose rulers were
tolerant of other religious and ethnic
Southeast Asia: The Rise of
► The
Strait of Malacca is the principal
passage from the Indian Ocean to the South
China Sea
► In the fourteenth century a gang of Chinese
pirates preyed upon the strait, nominally
under the control of the Java-based
kingdom of Majapahit
Malacca cont.
► In
1407, the forces of the Ming dynasty
crushed the Chinese pirates
► The Muslim ruler of Malacca took advantage
of this to exert his domination over the
strait and to make Malacca into a major port
and a center of trade.
Spread of Ideas
► Religion
 Indian merchants brought by Brahmin priests
 Muslim scholars brought by Arab merchants
 Christian merchants brought by priests
► Trading
 Swahili: mix of Arabic, Indian, and Bantu
Indian Ocean Trade CFU
► What
factor(s) led to rise of the Indian
Ocean trade?
► What
participated in Indian Ocean Trade- please
list 2 places and provide examples of what
they traded.
► What
other things were traded aside from
Trans-Saharan Trade
A series of powerful trading
kingdoms emerged in West
The West African kingdoms
controlled important trade
routes that connected North
Africa and West Africa.
Beginning of Trans-Saharan
 North Africa was rich in the salt
that West Africa lacked.
 West Africa was rich in gold.
 The Trans-Saharan trade led to
an exchange of salt for gold.
Trans-Saharan Trade
► Began
with Soninke Empire (Ghana) in the
5th century
► Linked to Mediterranean Empires supplied
gold and salt
► Used camels (Ibn Battuta, camel caravan
size = 1,000-12,000)
► Eventually sent slaves north
Trans-Saharan Trade
► Beginning
of trade: Ghana
► Height of trade: Mali
► Decline of trade: Portuguese
invaders/Atlantic slave trade
► Spread
Of Islam:
Islamic Impact
Active trade with
Islamic world (Dar alIslam)
Islamic world
interested in Ghana:
“The richest king
on the face of the
earth by reason of
wealth and treasure
of [gold]”
By 11th C, Muslims part
of culture of the
Ghana: 400-1200
Ghana was called the “land of gold”
but it did not have gold. Instead,
the trade routes passed through
Ghana and the kings of Ghana taxed
all entering and exiting the kingdom.
The kingdom of Ghana emerged as
early as 500 A.D. It collapsed in the
11th century.
The kings of Ghana used their wealth
to build a powerful army and keep
the peace within their empire.
Religious Muslims, Almoravids,
invaded and destroyed Ghana in the
1100s but another West African
kingdom rose to power to protect
the valuable Salt for Gold Trade.
Mali: 1250-1400
After decline of Ghana, the
West African Kingdom of Mali
emerged as a great trading
Took control of Gold Trade
Most famous king: Mansa Musa
 set up a great center of
learning in Timbuktu
 Expanded empire
 Converted to Islam and
went on Hajj
►Gave away tremendous
amount of gold
Songhai: 1450-1600
► The
West African kingdom of Songhai was
the largest of the three trading kingdoms
► Muslim
► controlled the profitable Trans-Saharan
► Eventually, the kingdom of Songhai fell to
invading armies from Morocco in 1591 (they
had guns)