4 - Chapter IV The Making of a Global World 1 The...

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1 The Pre-modern World When we talk of ‘globalisation’ we often refer to an economic system that has emerged since the last 50 years or so. But as you will see in this chapter, the making of the global world has a long history – of trade, of migration, of people in search of work, the movement of capital, and much else. As we think about the dramatic and visible signs of global interconnectedness in our lives today, we need to understand the phases through which this world in which we live has emerged. All through history, human societies have become steadily more interlinked. From ancient times, travellers, traders, priests and pilgrims travelled vast distances for knowledge, opportunity and spiritual fulfilment, or to escape persecution. They carried goods, money, values, skills, ideas, inventions, and even germs and diseases. As early as 3000 BCE an active coastal trade linked the Indus valley civilisations with present-day West Asia. For more than a millennia, cowries (the Hindi c owdi or seashells, used as a form of currency) from the Maldives found their way to China and East Africa. The long-distance spread of disease-carrying germs may be traced as far back as the seventh century. By the thirteenth century it had become an unmistakable link. The Making of a Global World Chapter IV The Making of a Global World Fig. 1 – Image of a ship on a memorial stone, Goa Museum, tenth century CE . From the ninth century, images of ships appear regularly in memorial stones found in the western coast, indicating the significance of oceanic trade.
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India and the Contemporary World 78 1.1 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. The name ‘silk routes’ points to the importance of West-bound Chinese silk cargoes along this route. 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. But Chinese pottery also travelled the same route, as did textiles and spices from India and Southeast Asia. In return, precious metals – gold and silver – flowed from Europe to Asia. Trade and cultural exchange always went hand in hand. Early Christian missionaries almost certainly travelled this route to Asia, as did early Muslim preachers a few centuries later. Much before all this, Buddhism emerged from eastern India and spread in several directions through intersecting points on the silk routes. 1.2 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. Even ‘ready’ foodstuff in distant parts of the world might share common origins. Take spaghetti and noodles. It is believed that noodles travelled west from China to become spaghetti. Or, perhaps Arab traders
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