The creation of a strong and productive society depends on a stable economy. The development of extensive trade relations in Africa, Europe, and Asia, was necessary for the existence of the highly advanced civilizations that exist today. The Trans-Saharan trade, Indian Ocean trade, and manorial trade of Europe in the middle ages were major trading networks that flourished. The Trans-Saharan trade network connected the Mediterranean countries and Northern African countries with Sub-Saharan Africa. The Indian Ocean Trade network stretched from Eastern Africa to China, India, Persia, and other Asian countries. Manorial trade was based on the relationship between land-owning lords and the peasants who farmed their land during the medieval period. Manorial trade differed from the Indian Ocean trade and Trans-Saharan trade in regard to the effects of trade on society, the types of materials traded, role of serfs/ slaves in the trading system, and the participating countries. Manorial trade was local and domestic while the Trans-Saharan and Indian Ocean Trade was international.
Across the Indian Ocean, from 650- 1750 C.E., commerce had many changes and continuities. Trade along this route stayed the same with its spread of goods from one place to another, but changed because of the ways goods were traded along this trade route. Ships were still the main mode of transportation however they were made differently. However, countries that traded in the Indian Ocean expanded while African countries still traded heavily. The Islamic Empire and some European counties controlled much of the trade.
The Silk Road was a network of trade routes which linked regions of the Asian continent with the West and East. Along this route, many goods and services were exchanged between people from all over the world. There was also an exchange of different ideas and inventions due to the nonstop interaction of different cultures. For example, Buddhism spread into China from India after the Han dynasty collapsed. The Silk Road became one of the most important trade routes because it produced trade between various empires across the world. As a result, when many people hear the term Silk Road, “every sort of romantic notion” (“Traveling the Silk Road”) is evoked. However, the men and women that traveled along the Silk Road thought otherwise. This is because they were faced with many problems and difficulties while traveling along the road.
In 6000 BC farming and irrigation were on the rise. Since there was little rain in Southern Mesopotamia they created irrigation which lead farmers to settle in Southern Mesopotamia. With the large increase in population in Southern Mesopotamia, things quickly changed. There were new inventions and ideas, which led to the exchange of those inventions and ideas- known as trade.
was the influential trade route that impacted and connected the “Old World” (Europe, Africa, and
The Silk Road experienced many transformations between 200 BCE and 1450 CE. It still served its original purpose however. Diseases, spices, goods, ideas, and jewelry were all traded along the road, but over time, the materials being traded slowly changed. Many boundaries and identities of the countries were also revised.
After Europeans arrived in East Asia via the Indian Ocean, trade in the Far East changed dramatically moving towards a globalized economy. Between 1450 (39 years before the arrival of Vasco Da Gama) until 1750, the levels of trade in Asia reached a new peak; initial changes came in the form of the addition of new goods; and the eventual addition of colonization into the Indian Ocean Trade Network ultimately turned traditional “trade” into imperial relations. However, the importance of raw materials and the main Asian groups involved in the Indian Ocean trade network largely remained constant after European exposure until the start of British Imperial rule of India. Throughout these three centuries, economic superpowers rose and fell, leadership changed, and cultural exchange was highly prevalent, but the general philosophies, and religions of the societies involved in trade remained intact, resulting in far more positive interaction than in the New World.
Trade is the exchange of supplies with two or more people. Not only does trade bring resources that an empire cannot provide for itself and security, but it also brings different ideas, technologies, and philosophies that the empire can adopt to further strengthen itself. Furthermore, trade encourages communication and the merging of diverse cultures, therefore creating good relations with other empires. Overall, trade brings an empire more allies and less bloodshed. Because of all these additional, positive aspects of trade, trade is one of the dominant, key factors to the peaks of civilizations such as the Ghana Empire in West Africa, the Tang dynasty in East Asia, the Holy Roman Empire in Western Europe, the Gupta Empire in India, and the Abbasid Empire in the Middle East.
McCormick concurs that there was a drop in trade in the beginning of the seventh century but by the second half of the seventh century trading in places like the North Sea was a bustling place of trade. He continues to support his theory on the quick reemergence of trade through a series of documents that show by the middle of the eight-century there were at least six new ways to reach the Middle East. If trade is stagnated by Islam why is there a development of new trade routes? For McCormick the answer is simple, trade is booming.
The Old World system was mainly Asia-centric. European states were far behind the Asian and Middle Eastern ones. According to the article of Janet Lippman Abu-Lughod which is named “The World System in the Thirteenth Century: Dead-End or Precursor”, beside the world system there were subsystems which were not “depending on each other for common survival in the thirteenth century”. There were three big circuits: Westers European, Middle Eastern, Far Eastern. “At that times the strongest centres and circuits were located in the Middle East and Asia. In contrast the European circuit was an upstart newcomer that for several early centuries was only tangentially and weakly linked to the core of the world system as it had developed between the eight and eleventh centuries.” As she mentioned, Europe joined the advanced world system of that time after 11th century, yet till 15th century it was not so effective. Although the states in east were developed, this did not reflect to political arena. Every state was powerful in its own niche and as a result of this there was not a hierarchical form of political balance. These states could be thought as pockets. Nature of this system was production. As Janet L. Abu-Lughod mentioned “the production of primary and manufactured goods was not only sufficient to meet local needs but, beyond that, the needs for export as well. Then, the way of function of this system can be understood: trade. Trade was the main economic activity of the Old System. Trade was mostly depending on exchange of goods. In spite of this, Chinese merchants were using paper money like a credit card and Arabic dinar was the dollar of that time. All of these show us that the trade was also Asia-centric. The popular trade ways were through Middle East and Asia. Beside the economic side, trade was integrating cities and societies.