AP World History
600 - 1450 CE
Key Concept 3.1.
Expansion and Intensification of Communication and Exchange Networks
Although Afro-Eurasia and the Americas remained separate from one another, this era witnessed a deepening and widening of networks of human interaction within and across regions. The results were unprecedented concentrations of wealth and the intensification of cross-cultural exchanges. Innovations in transportation, state policies, and mercantile practices contributed to the expansion and development of commercial networks, which in tum served as conduits for cultural, technological, and biological diffusion within and between various societies. Pastoral or nomadic groups played a key role in creating and sustaining these networks. Expanding networks fostered greater interregional borrowing, while at the same time sustaining regional diversity. The prophet Muhammad promoted Islam, a new monotheistic religion, at the start of this period. It spread quickly through practices of trade, warfare, and diffusion characteristic of this period.
I. Improved transportation technologies and commercial practices led to an increased volume of trade, and expanded the geographical range of existing and newly active trade networks.
A. Existing trade routes—including the Silk Roads, the Mediterranean Sea, the Trans-Saharan, and the Indian Ocean basin—flourished and promoted the growth of powerful new trading cities.
B. Communication and exchange networks developed in the Americas.
C. The growth of interregional trade in luxury goods was encouraged by significant innovations in previously existing transportation and commercial technologies, including the caravanserai, use of the compass, astrolabe, and larger ship designs in sea travel; and new forms of credit and monetization.
D. Commercial growth was also facilitated by state practices, including the Inca road system; trading organizations, including the Hanseatic League; and state-sponsored commercial infrastructures, including the Grand Canal in China.
E. The expansion of empires—including China, the Byzantine Empire, the caliphates, and the Mongols—facilitated Afro-Eurasian trade and communication as new peoples were drawn into their conquerors' economies and trade networks.
II. The movement of peoples caused environmental and linguistic effects.
A. The expansion and intensification of long distance trade routes often depended on environmental knowledge and technological adaptations to it.
B. Some migrations had a significant environmental impact, including: The migration of Bantu-speaking peoples who facilitated transmission of iron technologies and agricultural techniques in Sub-Saharan Africa. The maritime migrations of the Polynesian peoples who cultivated transplanted foods and domesticated animals as they moved to new islands.
C. Some migrations and commercial contacts led to the diffusion of languages throughout a new region or the emergence of new languages.
III. Cross-cultural exchanges were fostered by the intensification of existing, or the creation of new, networks of trade and communication.
A. Islam, based on the revelations of the prophet Muhammad, developed in the Arabian Peninsula. The beliefs and practices of Islam reflected interactions among Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians with the local Arabian peoples. Muslim rule expanded to many parts of Afro-Eurasia due to military expansion, and Islam subsequently expanded through the activities of merchants and missionaries.
B. In key places along important trade routes, merchants set up diasporic communities where they introduced their own cultural traditions into the indigenous culture.
C. As exchange networks intensified, an increased number of travelers within Afro-Eurasia wrote about their travels. Their writings illustrate both the extent and the limitations of intercultural knowledge and understanding.
D. Increased cross-cultural interactions resulted in the diffusion of literary, artistic, and cultural traditions, as well as scientific and technological innovations.