Group 1: Intro to Trade


  • A long time ago, long distance trade was only a small fraction of overall trade
  • Long distance trade, for the most part supplied luxury goods such as silks, gold, spices, and other expensive goods.
  • These goods were very valuable relative to weight. Merchants would carry them across hundreds of thousands of miles to make substantial profits.
  • Commercial goods like raw wool and cotton were traded over medium distances because their worth was not associated with their weight.
  • Transportation cost was justified because the raw material was more valuable after being put into finished products like clothes and blankets
  • Textbook Review

World Trade: Historical Analysis

  • Historians have many questions about international trade history.
  • They debate about how much government involvement should occur in economic markets.
  • In a free market economy, there would be no regulation by the government concerning trade.
  • Societies, on the other hand, regulate trade somewhat to serve the greater good of the society.
  • In times of war, the government will ration food and necessities to make sure every member of the society has access to the basics to survive.
  • Market economies have not always been a part of the exchange of goods and services.
  • The Government regulated trade in the early societies of Egypt, Mesopotamia, and China.


Trade Networks

  • Long distance merchants encouraged trade between the societies they lived in.
  • In order to create far-flung networks of trade, merchants formed "trade diasporas", networks of interconnected communities in major cities throughout Africa, Europe, and Asia.
  • During the height of the Roman Empire, traders from Rome sailed the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean, occasionally continuing all the way to China.
  • Usually these traders weren't ethnically Roman. Many were Jews, Greek-speaking Egyptians, and Arabs.
  • The Roman traders left heritage in their diasporas and created religious communities of Jews, Christians, and Muslim Arabs.
  • The merchants were marginal to the societies they visited rather than a part of them. They did not occupy positions in the center of the host society.
  • They were regulated by their hosts and were forced to make a reasonable profit in exchange for benefits in port cities.
  • Trade Routes

Trade in the Americas before 1500

  • There were two major trade networks in the Western Hemisphere.
  • The North to South network ran along the pacific coast and in the spine of the Andes Mountains.
  • The North American region had the smallest networks of trade in 1500.
  • The East to West network rose to heights of 15,000 feet in altitudes along mountains.
  • The North to South network received very little traffic, while East to West received virtually none.
  • Only traffic passing through would be the rare exception of voyages, such as Leif Eriksson and Marco Polo, who arrived in China during the Ming Dynasty.
  • Before 1500, the largest part of exchange economy were local transactions-there weren't many long distance transactions.
  • The Americas also were not a part of the Arab trading zone before 1500.

Trade in the Inca Empire


  • The early 15th century Incas engaged in a lot of trade, but was regulated by the government
  • In the 1400's, the Inca was self-sufficient and most trade was internal.
  • The trade in the empire was wide, however.
  • Only the northern region had official traders.
  • Trading included crops, medicine, feathers, and animal skins.
  • Gold working was common in highland regions.
  • The state and the semi-divine rulers controlled this trade.
  • The Incas used quipu to keep track of accounts and records which helped maintain organized trade.

Fun Game About Aztecs!


Trade in Central America and Mexico

  • Trade occurred between cultures.
  • The kings tightly controlled trade.
  • The Aztecs had large marketplaces; the one in Tenochtitlan had 40,000-50,000 merchants meet every five days..
  • The Tenochtitlan market had many shops, such as medicine shops, food and drink shops, and barbers.
  • Pack animals and people carried goods.
  • The Aztec government regulated the market place.
  • Although the Mayans dominated the Yucatan Peninsula through 900 CE, the Aztecs and Mayans did not work together in the trade network. They stayed separate.
  • Aztec video