Beginning about the sixth century, however, a revival of long-distance trade underwrote a second round of intense cross-cultural encounters. The revival of cross-cultural dealings depended again on the foundation of large imperial states, such as the Tang, Abbasid, and Carolingian empires, which pacified vast stretches of Eurasia and gained the cooperation of nomadic peoples who provided transportation links between settled regions. But, long-distance trade in the sixth century benefited also from much more frequent use of sea lanes across the Indian Ocean. Merchants once again linked the Eurasian landmass, while impressive numbers of missionaries and pilgrims traveled in their company. In an era often labeled a dark age—quite inappropriately—literacy and religions of salvation (particularly Buddhism, Islam, and early forms of Christianity) extended their influence to most parts of Eurasia.The development of a consciousness of the world as a whole first came with the conquest of most of Eurasia, the biggest and long the most populous and culturally and technologically advanced continent, by the Mongolsin the thirteenth century. Economist Ronald Findlay (2002) argues that:For the first and only time in history, a single regime presided over the entire length of the overland trade routes linking China and the Near East. This made it possible for merchants and goods to move safely over these vast distances, facilitating the transmissions of ideas and techniques. Since China was substantially ahead of both Islam and the West in the general level of its technology, this flow chiefly benefited the lands at the western ends of the trade routes and beyond.The first era of globalization, according to Findlay, began with “the unification of the central Eurasian land mass by the Mongol conquests and the reactions this aroused in the sedentary civilizations that they were launched against.” Among other things, it brought awareness to the Europeans of the civilizations of East Asia and a stronger desire to reach them by going around the Islamic world that had for so long stood in between. That, in turn, brought forth the effort to improve naval technology which enabled the European voyages of discovery of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. So, instead of being the first, this can rightfully be called the second (and decisive) state on the way to globalization—first Eurasia, then the world.The unraveling of the Mongol state in China coincided with a phenomenon of much larger impact: the spread of bubonic plague, known in the West as the Black Death, throughout Eurasia. The pacified vast regions that facilitated overland travel throughout the empire made it possible for humans and their animal stock to transport microorganisms across long distances much more efficiently than ever before (Bently 1993). Long-distance trade probably did not disappear completely, but its volume certainly declined precipitously during the late fourteenth century.
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The period of the gold standard and liberalization of the nineteenth century is often called "The Second Era of Globalization." Based
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