The Human Web: Class Notes

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Part VI – Spinning the worldwide web (1450-1800)
Beginning in around 1450, peoples of the earth increasingly formed a more single community oThis process is known as “globalization”
As globalization continued, the process of specialization of labor became global The World’s Webs as of 1450
The web was created by migration, trade, missionary work, technology transfer, biological exchange, and military conquest oEncompassed Russia up to Siberia, Korea & Japan, England, Northern & Eastern Africa (but not far from the coast). There were two main trunk lines for trade:

oThe Silk Road: from N. China to the Mediterranean and Black Seas. This route declined due to conquering tribes creating fragmentation oBy Sea: Korea, Japan, & China through SE Asian Isles, to the Persian Gulf & Red Sea The Eastern and Western extremities of the web strengthened due to shared advances in ship design and navigational skills oThe rewards to trade of goods became greater, even in the case of bulk items like grain, salt, and timber oInland waterways allowed for bulk trade to the interior

oDue to rain patterns and lack of rivers, southwestern Asia and eastern Africa benefited less from these improvements and still relied heavily on overland caravans In the Pacific web, the reasons for the web were more political than commercial oCaused by the similarities between the islands, combined with the vast distances between The American web stretched from the Great Lakes to the southern Andes oEncompassed anywhere from 40-60 million people

oWater transport was important
oTwo nodes: central Mexico (Aztec) and Peru (Inca)
Aztec: Politically only influenced central Mexico, but culturally, influenced from Mexico to the Mississippi basin and southeastern woodlands of North America Inca: Influence spread from southern Columbia through northern Argentina and Chile both politically and culturally. •Built overland road network of 15000-25000 miles

oOutside of these nodes, the American web was much looser
The webs fostered specialization of production and division of labor leading to economic diversity and wealth creation. Additionally, disease resistance grew at the cost of higher infant mortality. Funding and Extending the World’s Web (1450-1800)

Revolutions in ship design and navigation led to maritime connections becoming the guiding force in history for 300 years. oCarvel style construction (nailing boards to skeletal ribs) replaced the previous clinker style (nailing overlapping boards) due to a merging of Mediterranean, North, and Baltic Seas design. Resulted in stronger hulls using less wood.

oCarrying two types of masts (square & lateen) along with the sternpost rudder allowed for greater maneuverability and speed. Required less manpower (oars and oarsmen)
oA fusion of Arab astronomy and mathematics combined with Spanish and Portuguese practical experience led to better navigation Sailed further down the coast of Africa and around the Cape of Good Hope and up to the Indian ocean Discovered that the winds in the Southern hemisphere were the reverse of the Northern hemisphere The Portuguese gained the skills to go anywhere, but needed to do so safely oUsing the bigger ships, capable of carrying a larger burden, they were able to carry cannon. Other ships were unable to use cannon because they tended to shake apart with the recoil The ability to fight naval battles without ramming or boarding the enemy ships changed the politics or Europe The politics requiring nations to build warships led to exploration by various nations and the bringing together of the different webs oIncreased exploration led to detailed knowledge of the world’s coasts. oChina, once a great Naval power, outlawed maritime trade and had many official copies of their maps and navigational devices burned By 1570’s the prohibition was relaxed, but much of the knowledge was lost •Despite the loss, trade began to flourish...
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