Regional and Transregional Interactions 600 C.E. to 1450

Snapshot ~600 C.E.

(what was generally taking place at beginning of period)
  • End, Eurasian Classical Period - epidemics, political and economic collapse, civil wars, invasions except Byzantine Empire - after end of Justinian rule, expansion of territory, and plague
  • early Tang dynasty – peak, then decline of Buddhism in China Chinese Buddhism diffused/spread to Japan
  • Japan – unifying, centralizing political structure by Yamato clan (emperor) modeled after Tang China
  • Ghana Empire - first west African advanced, urban culture
  • polytheistic and animist north Africa and southwest Asia expanding transregional trade routes, interactions (Indian Ocean, Transaharan Africa,, Silk Roads) early feudalistic, Christian, Jewish, and pagan western Europe after fall of western Roman Empire cultural and technological backwater
  • continuing Polynesian migrations throughout Oceania
  • start of decline of Teotihuacan in Central Mexico
  • “Classical” period Mayan city-states
  • early Anasazi culture in North America

Key Concept 3.1 Expansion and Intensification of Trade, Communication, and Exchange Networks

1. Improved transportation technologies and commercial practices led to expansion of existing trade routes and volume of trade

  • Existing trade routes flourished, leading to growth of powerful new trading cities
    • Required examples, existing trade routes: Silk Roads, Mediterranean Sea, Trans-Saharan, AND Indian Ocean
    • One example of new trading cities: Novgorod, Timbuktu, Swahili city-states, Hangzhou, Calicut, Baghdad, Melaka, Venice, Tenochtitlan, OR Cahokia
  • New Mesoamerica and Andes region trade routes developed
  • More sophisticated caravan organization, use of compass, astrolabe, larger ship design, new forms of credit and monetization, increased luxury and other goods trade
    • One example of luxury goods: silk and cotton textiles, porcelain, spices, slaves, precious metals and gems, OR exotic animals
    • One example of caravan organization: caravanserai OR camel saddles
    • One example of new forms of credit and monetization: bills of exchange, credit, checks, OR banking houses
  • State practices, infrastructure building (i.e., Grand Canal in China) and trading organizations (i.e., Hanseatic League) improved trade and commercial growth
    • One example of state practices: minting of coins OR use of paper money
  • Empires expansion encouraged/facilitated trans-Eurasian trade – newly conquered peoples were drawn into their conquerors’ economies and trade networks
    • Required examples: Byzantine Empire, China, the Caliphates, AND the Mongols

2. Movement of peoples caused environmental and linguistic effects

  • Expansion and intensification of long-distance trade routes often depended on environmental knowledge and technological adaptations to the environment
    • One example: Vikings longships to travel in both open waters and rivers, Arab and Berber camels adapted to travel across the Sahara desert, OR ways Central Asian pastoral/herding groups used horses to travel across steppes/grasslands
  • Some migrations had significant environmental impacts.
    • Required examples: Bantu-speaking people and their spread/diffusion iron technologies and agricultural techniques in Sub-Saharan Africa AND Polynesian maritime migrations taking food staples and domesticated animals to new islands
  • Some migrations and commercial contacts led to the diffusion of languages to a new region or the development of new languages - One example: spread of Bantu (including Swahili) OR Turkic and Arab languages

3. Intensification of existing or creation of new trade and communication networks/routes led to more cross-cultural exchanges

  • Islam developed in the Arabian Peninsula, reflecting interactions among Jews, Christian, Zoroastrians with Arabs. Muslim rule expanded to many regions of Afro-Eurasia due to military actions, merchants, missionaries, and other factors
  • Merchants often set up diasporic communities (away from ancestral homelands) in cities along important trade routes, where they introduced their own cultural traditions into local/indigenous culture.
    • One example of merchant communities: Muslim merchants in the Indian Ocean, Chinese in SE Asia, Sogdians in Central Asia OR Jewish merchants in Mediterranean, Indian Ocean, Silk Roads.
  • Writings of interregional travelers illustrate both the extent and limitations of intercultural knowledge and understanding
    • One example: Ibn Battuta, Marco Polo, OR Xuanzang
  • Increased cross-cultural interactions resulted in the diffusion of literary, artistic, and cultural traditions
    • One example: influence of Neoconfucianism and Buddhism in East Asia, Hinduism and Buddhism in SE Asia, Islam in Sub-Saharan Africa and SE Asia, OR Toltec/Mexica and Inca traditions in Mesoamerica and Andean America
  • Increased cross-cultural interactions also resulted in the diffusion of scientific and technological traditions
    • One example: influence of Greek and Indian mathematics on Muslim scholars, return of Greek science and philosophy to Western Europe via Muslim al-Andalus in Iberia (Islamic Spain), OR diffusion of printing and gunpowder from East Asia to Islamic empires and Western Europe

4. Continued diffusion of crops and disease pathogens throughout the Eastern Hemisphere along the trade routes

  • New foods and agricultural techniques were adopted in populated areas.
    • One example: bananas in Africa, new rice varieties in E. Asia, OR spread of cotton, sugar, and citrus throughout Dar al-Islam and Mediterranean region
  • Spread of epidemic disease, including the Black Death, followed established paths of trade and military conquest

Key Concept 3.2 Continuity and Innovation of State (Political units) Forms and their Interactions

1. Empires collapsed - some were re-established – in some regions new forms of states (political systems/units) emerged

  • Re-established empires, including the Byzantine Empire and the Sui, Tang, and Song dynasties, combined traditional sources of power and legitimacy with new political innovations
    • One example of traditional sources of power and legitimacy: patriarchy, religion OR land-owning elites
    • One example of political organization innovation: new methods of taxation, tributary systems OR adaptation of religious institutions
  • New forms of governance/political systems developed, including: various Islamic states, the Mongol Khanates, city-states, and decentralized government (feudalism) in Europe and Japan
    • One example of Islamic states: Abbasids, Muslim Iberia, OR Delhi Sultanates
    • One example of city-states in: the Italian peninsula, East Africa, Southeast Asia OR the Americas
  • Some states synthesized/combined local and borrowed governance traditions
    • One example: Persian traditions that influenced Islamic states OR Chinese traditions that influenced states in Japan
  • State/political systems expanded in scope and power in the Americas – networks of Mayan city-states and imperial Mexica/Aztec and Inca states at end of the period

2. Interregional contacts and conflicts between states and empires encouraged significant technological and cultural transfers

  • Required examples: between Tang China and the Abbasids, across the Mongol empires, AND during the Crusades

Key Concept 3.3 Increased Economic Production and its Consequences

1. Innovations stimulated agricultural and industrial production in many regions

  • Agricultural production increased significantly due to technological innovations
    • One example: Champa rice varieties, chinampa field systems, waru waru raised beds and canals in Andes region, improved terracing OR horse collar
  • In response to increasing demand in Afro-Eurasia for foreign luxury goods, crops were transported from original locations to equivalent eco-systems.
  • Chinese, Persian, and Indian artisans increased their production of textiles and porcelains; industrial production of iron and steel expanded in Song China.

2. City fates varied – some declined, others prospered and grew

  • Multiple factors contributed to the decline of some cities: invasions, disease, decline of agricultural productivity AND/OR the Little Ice Age
  • Multiple factors influenced urban revival, including: end of invasions, safe and reliable transportation, rise of commerce and warmer temperatures between 800 and 1300, increased food production and subsequent population rise, AND/OR greater availability of labor helped urban growth
  • Older cities decline, while new cities developed to take on established urban roles and functions/activities. Cities continue to play key roles as government, religious, and commercial/economic/trade centers.

3. Despite continued traditional patterns in many socio-economic class systems and economic production, there were important changes in labor systems and the effect of religious conversions on gender relations and family life.

  • As in the previous time period; there were many forms of labor systems/organization: free peasant agriculture nomadic pastoralism/herding and foraging craft production and guild organizations various forms of coerced and unfree labor (slavery, serfdom, mit’a, corvee labor) government imposed labor taxes and military obligations
  • As in the previous period, social systems were shaped by socio-economic class and caste hierarchies (rankings).
  • Patriarchy persisted; however in some areas, women exercised more power and influence, most notably among the Mongols, in W. Africa, Japan, and SE Asia.
  • New forms of coerced labor appeared, including serfdom in feudal Europe and Japan, and the mit’a system in the Inca Empire. Free peasants resisted attempts to raise dues and taxes by staging revolts. The demand for slaves for both military and domestic purposes increased – particularly in central Eurasia, regions in Africa, and the eastern Mediterranean.
    • One example of regions where free peasants revolted: China OR the Byzantine Empire
  • The diffusion/spread of Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and Neoconfucianism often led to significant changes in gender relations and family structure.


(what generally stayed the same during much of the time period)
  • European and Japanese feudalism
  • Chinese cultural patterns & dynastic cycle major cities centers of trade, government, religion, and culture
  • transregional trade
  • Roman legal system maintained in Byzantine Empire basis for western European legal system
  • Shintoissm, Buddhism, Confucianism in Japan and the Japanese imperial family
  • patriarchy - regional inequality increased slavery and other forms of forced labor
  • mixture of African agricultural, nomadic, and urban cultures
  • nomadic trade and conflict with settled, advanced, urban cultures (civilizations)