Expansion of Trade and Exchanges: c. 600 CE - c. 1450

AP Concept: 3.1 Expansion and Intensification of Communication and Exchange Networks
Key Concepts
  • Improved transportation led to increased trade and the spread of networks
  • New or intensified networks of trade and communication fostered cross-cultural exchanges
Technological Developments
  • Major technological developments improved transportation and communication networks
  • Better shipbuilding technology improved the speed and capacity of seagoing vessels
  • The Portuguese (c. 1400) developed the caravel, which was useful for navigating the difficult winds near West Africa
  • The magnetic compass (first used by the Song dynasty in China, 960 - 1279 CE) aided sailors in maritime navigation, making it easier to travel long distances by sea
Expanded Networks
  • This period featured much more long-distance trade, as overland routes continued to trade in luxury goods, and improved technology facilitated greater sea trade in bulky commodities
  • The Silk Road continued to connect Europe with Asia, serving as a primary trade route for luxury goods. It reached its greatest height during the Mongol Peace (c. 1260 -1368 CE), under the rule of the nomadic Mongols
  • West Africa traded with other parts of the Muslim world in a trans-Saharan network
  • Merchants from China, India, and Southeast Asia could trade with those from Arabia and East Africa via the Indian Ocean
  • Europe accessed goods from Asia and the Muslim world via the Mediterranean Sea
  • Thanks to these expanded networks, foreign merchants set up communities in cities along trade routes, thereby facilitating greater cultural exchange
  • Muslim merchants lived in the Indian Ocean region, Chinese merchants lived in Southeast Asia, and Jewish merchants lived in the Mediterranean region
Spread of Religion
  • Improved trade and communication networks encouraged the spread of religions, through conquest, missionaries, or cross-cultural exchange
  • Islam had spread across Arabia by the time of Muhammad's death (632 CE), and two subsequent caliphates, or political and religious dynasties, conquered further territory in North Africa, West Asia, Spain, and the Middle East by 1517 CE
  • Under the caliphates, all cultures were tolerated as long as they obeyed the rules of Islam, thus encouraging its spread
  • Despite fighting between the caliphates and eventual political decline, Islam provided a cultural bond between Islamic-controlled regions
  • After 900 CE, Islam spread to southern Europe, central and southeast Asia, sub-Saharan and east Africa through missionaries and trade, and Islamic traditions often mixed with local culture
  • Buddhism spread to southeast Asia and central Asia through missionaries, but it often adapted to local customs and mixed with other traditions
  • In east Asia, for example, Buddhism mixed with Confucianism to include ancestor worship and a focus on family
  • Buddhism also spread to Korea and Japan
  • Christianity spread through missionaries as well, after the church split into two factions in 1054
  • The western church sponsored missionary campaigns in western Europe, while the eastern church spread to eastern Europe and Russia
  • Syncretism, or the combination of differing systems of belief, encouraged the further spread of Christianity as pagan traditions mixed with Christian beliefs


Related Links:
AP World History Quizzes
AP World History
AP World History Notes
Spread of People and Disease: c. 600 CE - c. 1450


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