Increased regional and interregional interactions led to more interconnectedness.
Key Concept 3.1 — A deepening and widening of networks of human interaction within and across regions contributed to cultural, technological, and biological diffusion within and between various societies.
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:
Existing trade routes— including the Silk Roads, the Mediterranean Sea, the Trans-Saharan routes, and the Indian Ocean basin— flourished and promoted the growth of powerful new trading cities.
Communication and exchange networks developed in the Americas, in the Andes, throughout Mesoamerica, and in the Mississippi River Valley.
The growth of interregional trade in luxury goods was encouraged by significant innovations in previously existing transportation and commercial technologies— including the caravanserai, compass use, the astrolabe, and larger ship designs in sea travel—and new forms of credit and the development of money economies (such as bills of exchange, credit, checks, banking houses, paper money, etc.).
Commercial growth was also facilitated by state practices, including the Inca road system; trading organizations, such as the Hanseatic League; and state-sponsored commercial infrastructures, such as the Grand Canal in China.
The expansion of empires— including China, the Byzantine Empire, various Muslim states, and the Mongols— facilitated Afro–Eurasian trade and communication as new peoples were drawn into their conquerors’ economies and trade networks.
The movement of peoples caused environmental and linguistic effects. The expansion and intensification of long-distance trade routes often depended on environmental knowledge and technological adaptations to the environment (Scandinavian Vikings using longships to travel in coastal & open waters as well as rivers & estuaries, Arabs & Berbers adapting camels to travel across the desert, Central Asian pastoral groups using horses to travel the steppes). Some migrations had a significant environmental impact, including migration of Bantu-speaking peoples who facilitated transmission of iron technologies and agricultural techniques in Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as the maritime migrations of the Polynesian peoples who cultivated transplanted foods and domesticated animals as they moved to new islands. Some migrations and commercial contacts led to the diffusion of languages (Bantu, Arabic, Turkic, etc.) throughout a new region or the emergence of new languages. There was continued diffusion of crops (bananas in Africa; champa rice in East Asia; cotton, sugar, & citrus) and pathogens, including epidemic diseases like the bubonic plague, along trade routes.
Cross-cultural exchanges were fostered by the intensification of existing, or the creation of new, networks of trade and communication. 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, missionaries, and Sufis. In key places along important trade routes, merchants set up diasporic communities where they introduced their own cultural traditions into the indigenous culture (Muslims in the Indian Ocean region, the Chinese in Southeast Asia, Sogdian merchants in Central Asia, and Jewish communities throughout the major trade networks). As exchange networks intensified, an increased number of travelers within Afro–Eurasia wrote about their travels (Ibn Battuta, Marco Polo, Xuanzang). Increased cross-cultural interactions resulted in the diffusion of literary, artistic, and cultural traditions, as well as scientific and technological innovations (Christianty throughout Europe, Neoconfucianism & Buddhism in East Asia, Hinduism & Buddhism in Southeast Asia, Islam in Africa & Asia, Mexica & Incan traditions in Mesoamerica & the Andes).
Lecture on Basics of Islamic Belief:
Lecture on Spread of Islam to South Asia:
Lecture on Spread of Islam to Sub-Saharan Africa:
Lecture on Middle Eastern Tech Advances:
Lecture on migrations and other biological movements in Sub-Saharan Africa:
Lecture on American technological advancements & timeline of American civilizations:
Lecture on belief systems in China:
Lecture on Spread of Christianity in Western Europe:
Lecture on the Great Schism & Orthodox Christianity:
Key Concept 3.2 — State formation and development demonstrated continuity, innovation, and diversity in various regions.
Empires collapsed in different regions of the world, and in some areas were replaced by new imperial states or political systems. Following the collapses of empires, imperial states were reconstituted in some regions, including the Byzantine Empire and the Chinese dynasties (Sui, Tang, and Song), combining traditional sources of power and legitimacy (patriarchy, religion, landowning elites) with innovations better suited to their specific local context (new taxation methods, tributary systems, and adaptations of religious institutions). In some places, new political entities emerged, including those in various Islamic states; the Mongol khanates; new Hindu and Buddhist states in South, East, and Southeast Asia; city-states in East Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Italian peninsula; and decentralized government (feudalism) in Europe and Japan. Some states synthesized local with foreign traditions (Persian traditions in Islamic states, Chinese traditions in Japan). In the Americas, as in Afro–Eurasia, state systems expanded in scope and reach; networks of city-states flourished in the Maya region and, at the end of this period, imperial systems were created by the Mexica (Aztecs) and Inca.
Interregional contacts and conflicts between states and empires encouraged significant technological and cultural transfers:
between Tang China and the Abbasids;
across the Mongol Empire (like the spread the of Islamic scientific knowledge to Mongol China);
between Muslims and Christians in the Mediterranean region during the Crusades (like the transfer of Greco-Islamic medical knowledge to western Europe);
during Chinese maritime activity led by Ming Admiral Zheng He.
Lecture on Native American Political Developments:
Lecture on Western European Political Developments:
Lecture on Eastern European kingdoms & the Crusades:
Lecture on Byzantine government and its social implications:
Lecture on Chinese political developments:
Lecture on Japanese political developments:
Lecture on Vietnam & Korea's political relationship with China:
Lecture on Early Muslim Empires:
Lecture on "Caliphate" as Form of Government:
Lecture on "Sultans" v. "Caliphs":
Lecture on Mongol Empire & Khanates:
Lecture on effects of Mongol invasions:
Key Concept 3.3 — Changes in trade networks resulted from and stimulated increasing productive capacity, with important implications for social and gender structures and environmental processes.
Innovations stimulated agricultural and industrial production in many regions. Agricultural production increased significantly due to technological innovations, such as the chinampa field system, waru waru techniques in the Andes, improved terracing techniques, the horse collar, the three-field system, and swamp-draining. Demand for luxury goods increased in Afro–Eurasia. Chinese, Persian, and Indian artisans and merchants expanded their production of textiles and porcelains for export; industrial production of iron and steel expanded in China.
The fate of cities varied greatly, with periods of significant decline and periods of increased urbanization buoyed by rising productivity and expanding trade networks. Multiple factors contributed to the decline of urban areas in this period, including invasions, disease, and the decline of agricultural productivity. Multiple factors contributed to urban revival, including the end of invasions, the availability of safe and reliable transport, the rise of commerce and warmer temperatures between 800 C.E. and 1300, increased agricultural productivity and subsequent rising population, and greater availability of labor.
Despite significant continuities in social structures and in methods of production, there were also some important changes in labor management and in the effect of religious conversion on gender relations and family life:
The diversification of labor organization that began with settled agriculture continued in this period. Forms of labor organization included free peasant agriculture, nomadic pastoralism, craft production and guild organization, various forms of coerced and unfree labor, government-imposed labor, and military obligations.
As in the previous period, social structures were shaped largely by class and caste hierarchies. Patriarchy continued; however, in some areas, women exercised more power and influence, most notably among the Mongols and in West Africa, Japan, and Southeast Asia.
New forms of coerced labor appeared, including serfdom in Europe and Japan and the elaboration of the mit’a in the Inca Empire. Peasants resisted attempts to raise dues and taxes by staging revolts in China and the Byzantine Empire. The demand for slaves for both military and domestic purposes increased, particularly in central Eurasia, parts of Africa, and the eastern Mediterranean.
Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and Neoconfucianism were adopted in new regions and often caused significant changes in gender relations and family structure, such as divorce for both men and women in some Muslim states, foot-binding in Song China, and female monastic orders in Christianity and Buddhism.
Lecture on social & gender structures in China:
Lecture on social & gender structures in Chinese-influenced East Asia & Southeast Asia:
Lecture on Mongols' social impact:
Lecture on Social & Gender Structures in the American Empires:
Lecture on Social and Gender Structures in Western Europe:
Lecture on Social and Gender Structures in Sub-Saharan Africa: