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24

The nature of the silk road meant that it had to pass through commercial centres. "The Silk Road was largely fragmented and very few merchants travelled the whole route. Goods were passed from one merchant to another until it reached the final buyers" source So deviation over the steppes wasn't really possible as it was not the intermediaries goal to ...


19

Well there were a few reasons They pretty much had all they needed resource-wise in the country, trade was not a prerogative and even though Zheng He did go out exploring they were not interested in colonies or mercantilism. Mercantilism was pretty much frowned upon within the Confucian system, merchants did not produce goods they moved them around and ...


18

During the era when the Phoenicians ruled the Mediterranean sea and surrounding territories (cerca 1550 - 300 B.C.), salt was indeed a highly precious commodity. After this, the Romans became the dominant force in the Mediterranean, though the value of salt did not immediately decline by any means. Whether it was pound-for-pound as valuable as gold, I think ...


17

From "The origin of metallic currency and weight standards" By Sir William Ridgeway (Google books); University Press, 1892 ... We saw that the Arabs of the Soudan down to the present day prefer silver to gold whilst in the earlier part of the present century when Japan was opened to European commerce the Japanese eagerly exchanged gold for silver at the ...


14

It's not a full answer, but if you're interested by medieval Arabic travels, the unavoidable reference is Ibn Baṭūṭah. In his Rihla, he describes three travels he made during the 14th century : from Tangiers to middle-East, with a travel along the East coast of Africa, down to Zanbar and Kilwa. (map here) from Mecca to Beijing, and back, through Eastern ...


13

Just take a look at any political map, let it be Classical period, or early Medieval times. When travelling to China you need water, supplies of food, fodder, etc. Also it's safer to spend a night in a city or some kind of inn instead of open steppe spaces. Then what Joe mentioned, between the cities you've got roads, which again - are safer. South of Black ...


12

I will not interpret intercontinental in modern terms but rather view it as trade among distinct civilisations. Such trade dates back to Ancient Egyptian civilisations, Babylonians and Indus Valley Civilisation. Proofs exists in form of archeological excavations of, for example, potteries of Indus Civilisation in Iran and other parts of central Asia. The ...


12

I don't think that gold and salt ever were equal in value, that's an exaggeration. Salt was very valuable however, particularly because of its use for conservation - valuable enough to make one very rich. This allowed cities that sold salt (e.g. Lüneburg) to get very wealthy and influential. The Wieliczka salt mine supposedly was responsible for one third of ...


11

All the sources I've perused can, just as Wikipedia does, only surmise on the how and why gunpowder made its way to Europe. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Medieval Warfare and Military Technology offers a nutshell overview of the possible routes that might have been taken: Just how the secret of gunpowder traveled west-ward to Europe will probably never be ...


11

There were a few successful instances of mercantilism by countries that started behind others, and needed to "catch up." These include Russia under Peter the Great in the 18th century, and later, under Count Witte early in the 20th century. Another example was Japan after the Meiji Restoration of 1868, and again, right after World War II. China may be ...


10

As far back as 8th century BC there was evidence of 'proto money' in the form of rings, bracelets and other wearable currency items. They were often roughly made and sometimes had marks on them so they could cut them into segments to buy smaller items. They tended to be made of gold, silver or bronze and there are plenty floating around in museums and even ...


10

I'm not into proscribing a lot of collective guilt onto modern peoples for acts of their cultural ancestors. In fact, its damn silly. However, if someone else is trying to do this publicly, they should be really careful, because when it comes to slavery almost no culture on earth has clean hands. This includes Muslim society, and local Negro1 cultures. ...


9

The Celts were using "ring money" as early as 800bc, up until 300bc, when they picked up the idea of using coins from the Greeks.


9

The first evidence of usage of currency dates back to the code of Lipit-Ishtar, a set of laws dating to about 2000 BC. In this code there is mention of shekels of silver paid in compensation for various infractions. Since this is stated so clearly in a law created by a king, it must be presumed that such currency was in common use already by the people of ...


9

Papyrus was known to the Greek world since the 8th century BC, as it's mentioned in the Odyssey: [Hom. Od. 21.390] Now there lay beneath the portico the cable of a curved ship, made of byblus plant, wherewith he made fast the gates, and then himself went within. Thereafter he came and sat down on the seat from which he had risen, and gazed upon ...


9

The question is commonly asked (Google the question and you get 446,000,000 answers). BBC News has an excellent answer that mirrors my answer below, but in far more depth and with much less withering sarcasm. The summary is the last two sentences, " . . . to paraphrase Churchill, out of all the elements, gold makes the worst possible currency. Apart ...


8

The Mexican economy flourished in the middle 20th century, transforming the country from a primarily agrarian economy to an industrial one. To achieve this, mining, oil, electricity and many other industries were nationalized, stiff taxes on imported goods were set, and tax cuts and other economic incentives were given to national industries. Monopolies were ...


8

It's difficult to give a proper answer, because during any century of Middle Ages there could be many reasons for closing trading routes for European merchants as outsiders in various parts of Islamic world (which is huge). And it didn't need to have anything in common with religion - it could be the level of civilization (early medieval Europe), an economic ...


8

The exact technique these caravans used to navigate the desert appears to an issue of some contention in the scholarly community. Solid historical evidence seems to be lacking, since these cultures orally passed down this navigation knowledge for the most part. Anthropologists and other scholars have made analyses of modern Saharan navigators, but the ...


8

Usually islamic banks give loans for a share in the income of the business project as opposed to fixed percent of the loan sum (see mudarabah) The consumer loans may utilize another scheme: the bank buys, for example, a car and it becomes the bank's property, then you use this car and slowly re-buy it from the bank for greater money. Once you finished, the ...


8

Te VOC was not interested in control of people or land, but trade. For example nutmeg; the dutch burned every bit of it except on an island of 1 square km so they could control all of it. IIRC the value would go from 1 in Indonesia to 50000 in Amsterdam. The VOC was the single most profitable company in history (according to my prof.). A journey would take a ...


7

Try this link: The Luxury Trades of the Silk Road: How Much Did Silks and Spices Really Cost?


7

There is direct evidence of truly intercontinental trade dating back to approximately 1700 BC. Jack Turner, in his book Spice: The History of a Temptation, writes that a handful of cloves were found in a charred vessel in Syria. The find was remarkable in that, until modern times, cloves only grew on five tiny islands that are part of the Moluccas in ...


7

The Silk Way was not a single road, but rather a net of roads. And the ways Amudarja/Uzboj (Amudarja went to Caspian Sea till 16 Century, for example) - Caspian Sea - Volga - Don - Azov sea - Black sea - Konstantinople (variant: Aral-Caspian Sea by foot) was in use -especially for long periods when Amudarja was switched to the Caspian Sea and some stable ...


7

To fill out JK's answer: the VOC directly controlled very little except the shipping routes to Amsterdam (and a few other Dutch ports, but the majority of goods arrived at Amsterdam). Indirectly, through deals and influence at the local courts of the rulers of the islands, they controlled far more. By supplying those rulers with weapons, advisors, European ...


6

The first evidence we have for the usage of actual coinage as currency is the "Lydian Lion", a stamped coin of electrum from, as the name would imply, the region of Lydia in Anatolia. Herodotus indicates these started showing up in the early 7th Century BCE. See here for more info on the history of the first Lydian coinage: ...


6

The practice known as psychological pricing, or odd pricing, was invented in the United States in the 19th century. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_pricing Ironically, the original rationale was not to make prices appear lower, but rather to guarantee that customers would receive at least a penny (worth something at the time), in change. One ...


6

These situations were totally common throughout history. Starting from the industrial revolution in Britain which led to numerous concerns in France about their textile industry. I can tell you many other examples. The pre-revolutionary Russian Empire where German industry was seen to dominate over domestic industry. The Cold War era Soviet Union where it ...


6

The question is a bit confusing. The way I read it, you're asking why something expensive has enough demand to sustain a profitable trade ("How did the high price of spices allow such high demand?"). The answer is that it wasn't that expensive. A pound of spices might cost several days' worth of wages for an average craftsman, but a pound of pepper is a lot ...


6

Polo was already fantastically wealthy, so he may have been ambivalent about money. The operant issue was that at the time he wrote the book he was in a prison in Genoa. Writing the book had the advantage of improving his reputation with the Genoese and thereby helping him get out of prison, which he eventually did. As far as the benefits of the knowledge ...



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