Key Concept 3.1. Expansion and Intensification of Communication and Exchange Networks
Although Afro-Eurasia and the Americas remained separate from one another, this era witnessed a deepening and widening of old and new networks of human interaction within and across regions. The results were unprecedented concentrations of wealth and the intensification of cross-cultural exchanges. Innovations in transportation, state policies, and mercantile practices contributed to the expansion and development of commercial networks, which in turn served as conduits for cultural, technological, and biological diffusion within and between various societies. Pastoral or nomadic groups played a key role in creating and sustaining these networks. Expanding networks fostered greater interregional borrowing, while at the same time sustaining regional diversity. The prophet Muhammad promoted Islam, a new major monotheistic religion at the start of this period. It spread quickly through practices of trade, warfare, and diffusion characteristic of this period.
1. Improved transportation technologies and commercial practices led to an increased volume of trade, and expanded the geographical range of existing and newly active trade networks.
4. There was continued diffusion of crops and pathogens throughout the Eastern Hemisphere along the trade routes.
New foods and agricultural techniques (Bananas in Africa, New rice varieties in East Asia, Spread of Cotton, sugar, and citrus throughout Dar-al-Islam and the Mediterranean basin)were adopted in populated areas.
The spread of epidemic diseases, including the Black Death, followed the well established paths of trade and military conquest.