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        East Meets West: The Impact of Trade on Europe and China

        For many centuries, the primary route by which Europeans traded with China was over the long, slow land route called the Silk Road. Using the Silk Road typically required that Europeans traded indirectly with China through Middle Eastern merchants. Both the distance and the nature of the trade added to the expense of trading with the East. The desire to find a quicker and more direct trade route to China was a large factor in inaugurating the Age of Exploration.

         

        Examine the images in the Media Gallery below, paying close attention to details about trade between Europe and the East. Then, use the worksheet in Support Materials to answer three short essay questions.

        The Silk Road and Ancient Trade | Crash Course World History #9

        John Green teaches you about the so-called Silk Road, a network of trade routes where goods such as ivory, silver, iron, wine, and yes, silk were exchanged across the ancient world, from China to the West.

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        Columbus, de Gama, and Zheng He! 15th Century Mariners | Crash Course World History #21

        John Green teaches you about the beginning of the so-called Age of Discovery.

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        Marco Polo

        This is an illustration of the Italian explorer, Marco Polo, who claimed to have traveled to China and back from Italy. While some historians have doubts about the veracity of his claim to have visited the Middle Kingdom, the record he left behind includes many accurate observations. If Polo didn’t travel to China, he must have heard many stories from travelers who did visit Asia. This image shows him alongside a map showing the route he claimed to have taken to reach China and return to Europe in the thirteenth century.

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        Transporting Chinese Ceramics, 15th Century

        This is a fifteenth-century Turkish painting (done in the Chinese style) of Chinese ceramics being transported for trade along the Silk Road. Fine Chinese ceramics were a prized trade good. Merchants from Middle East nations like Turkey acted as middlemen between European and Chinese merchants when trading on the Silk Road.

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        Christopher Columbus Landing at San Salvadore, 19th Century Painting

        This is a painting of the 15th-century explorer Christopher Columbus and his crew landing at San Salvadore. In this 19th-century painting, the artist has imagined what it must have looked like for the Spanish sailors to have scrambled up the beach with banners and religious implements to meet the indigenous peoples living there. Columbus was not trying to reach North America, but was trying to find a better sea route to the Asia and the East Indies.

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