Travelers, traders, priests and pilgrims travelled vast distances in search of knowledge, opportunity, spiritual fulfillment or to escape persecution. They carried articles, values and skills, even including diseases.
- The Harappan people used coastal regions for sea trade as early as 3000 B.C. They traded with Mesopotamia and for centuries, cowries or seashells from the Maldives were used as form of currency between China and East Africa.
- India’s global link was firmly established by the thirteenth century.
Silk Routes Link the World
- The silk routes are a good example of vibrant pre-modern trade and cultural links between distant parts of the world.
- Historians have identified several silk routes, over land and by sea, knitting together vast regions of Asia and linking Asia with Europe and northern Africa. They are known to have existed since before the Christian Era and thrived almost till the fifteenth century.
- Trade and cultural exchange always west hand in hand. Christian missionaries and Muslim preachers travelled this route to Asia. Buddhism emerged from eastern India to spread in several directions through intersecting points on the silk routes.
Food Travels : Spaghetti and Potato
- Food offers many examples of long distance cultural exchange. Traders and travellers introduced new crops to the lands they travelled. Noodles travelled west from China to become spaghetti. Arab traders took pasta to fifth-century Sicly, an island now in Italy.
- Some of India’s favourite food items like potatoes, soya, groundnuts, maize, tomatoes, chillies, sweet potatoes, etc., originally belonged to the Americas, which was accidently discovered by Christopher Columbus. These crops were commonly grown in North America, South America and the Caribbean islands.
- The introduction of certain crops served as life savers. The Europe’s poor were benefitted from the introduction of potatoes with good nutrients and health. They became so dependent on Potatoes that thousands in Ireland perished in 1840’s during the Irish Potato Famine.
Conquest, Disease and Trade
- The pre-modern world shrank greatly in the sixteenth century after European sailors found a sea route to Asia and also successfully crossed the western ocean to America. For centuries before, the Indian Ocean had known a bustling trade. The entry of the Europeans helped expand or redirect some of these flows towards Europe.
- From the sixteenth century, America’s vast lands and abundant crops and minerals began to transform trade and lives everywhere.
- Mining of precious metals from present day Peru and Mexico, enhanced Europe’s wealth and financed its trade with Asia. legends spread in seventeenth-century Europe about South America’s fabled wealth. many expeditions set off in search of El Dorado, the fabled city of gold.
- European conquest was not just a result of superior firepower. Most powerful weapon of the Spanish conquerors was the germs such as those of smallpox that they carried on their person. Because of their long isolation, America’s original inhabitants had no immunity against these diseases. Smallpox, once introduced spread deep into the continent, ahead even of any Europeans reaching there, it killed and decimated whole communities, paving the way for conquest.
- Poverty, Hunger, Crowded cities, deadly diseases, Religious conflicts and prosecution of religious dissenters forced thousands of Europeans to flee Europe for America.
- From the fifteenth century, China restricted overseas contacts and retreated into isolation. China’s reduced role and the rising importance of the Americas gradually moved the centre of world trade westwards. Europe now emerged as the centre of would trade.
Read Also : The Making of Global World