Between 800 and 1400 interaction among
the societies of Southern and Central Asia increased dramatically. One factor
driving this interaction was the development of the eastern trade routes over
the Indian Ocean. Along with trade goods Indian merchants carried their culture
to Southeast Asia, where it blended with the indigenous cultures to produce
new hybrid civilizations. Equally important was the rise of nomadic peoples.
Turkish nomads helped to spread Islam to Central Asia and northwestern India;
and the Mongols redrew the world political map from the Korean peninsula to
eastern Europe, absorbing diverse cultural elements as their armies progressed.
The activates below will help you to reinforce and amplify what you have already
learned about this period.
- You may want to begin by printing this page. As you explore
different sites, use the printout to refer back to the instructions and
questions detailed in each activity.
- On many web sites you can increase the size of the images
by clicking on them. Whenever possible, use the larger images to examine
fine details in photographs.
- Old trade routes such as the Silk Road continued to be
vital conduits for goods and ideas. However, these overland routes were
supplemented by increasingly extensive sea routes. Examine Map
1: note the Silk Road and other overland routes through Central Asia
and sea routes over the Indian Ocean; give special attention to the routes
connecting India with Southeast Asia. (You can enlarge the map by clicking
on the icon that will appear in the lower right corner of the map.)
- Indian and Southeast Asian merchants carried on lively
trade along the sea routes depicted on Map 1. How did they manage to navigate
such long distances? Go to Ships
of the Old World. When you arrive, scroll down to and read the sections
on Indian and East Asian ships. Now read Early Navigation Methods
to learn more about how mariners of this period got from one place to another.
During this period several important
states emerged in South and Southeast Asia.
- One of these was the Gupta Empire in India,
which existed from A.D. 320 to 480. Review page 308 in McKay, A History
of World Societies (Sixth Edition). How was the Gupta Empire similar
to and different from the Han Dynasty and the Roman Empire? Add the Gupta
Empire to your chart from the fourth activity. You might want to consult
map 2, The
Later Guptas and Decline of the Gupta Empire, and the Age
of the Guptas and After.
- In Southeast Asia several states rose under the influence
of Indian culture. These states were not carbon copies of Indian civilization.
Instead, they were hybrids of Indian and indigenous cultures. To better
comprehend this development, go to The
Old Kingdoms, a chronology of the history of Indonesia. In addition
read Early Malay
Kingdoms, The Period
of Hindu Kingdoms, and Buddhist Empires.
How did these kingdoms reflect Indian culture? How did they reflect a hybridization
of Indian and indigenous cultures?
- Probably the best way to observe the impact of Indian
culture on Southeast Asia is through visual images. Read about the great
Indonesian Buddhist temple of Borobudur and examine
of the building (you can click on them to enlarge). Now read about Cambodia's Angkor
Wat and examine a few images of the structures.
How do these two temple complexes display Indian influence?
- Another catalyst for greater communication within
Asia between 800 and 1400 was nomadic movements. To better understand the
importance of Central Asian nomads in world history, read "Origin of
the Mongols" at Mongol history and chronology
from ancient times. Now go to The
Islamic World to 1600: Central Asia. According to these essays, what
civilizations influenced the peoples of Central Asia between 800 and 1400?
In what ways? How united were the peoples of Central Asia? Now consider
which civilizations Central Asian nomads influenced. (Use map 3
to help you: Find Central Asia and note what political developments this
map shows. Remember, both the Turks and the Uighurs were nomadic peoples.)
Write a few paragraphs summarizing your conclusions.
- As you know, nomads helped to introduce Islam
to parts of India. From its initial foothold in the northwest of the country,
Islam gradually spread and exerted a profound influence on Indian culture.
Review pages 309-313 in McKay, A History of World Societies (Sixth
Edition). When you finish read about impact of Islam on India.
How did Islam affect trade, technology, society, and religious thought in
- Of all the nomadic peoples that moved through
Central Asia during this period, the Mongols were the most powerful. As
this comparative list of conquerors
suggests, they built the largest empire the world has ever seen.
- The Mongols are generally remembered as destroyers who ruthlessly
razed cities and killed or enslaved entire populations. For another view
of the Mongols and their legacy read The
Mongols in Iran (make sure to click on each of the images and read the
descriptions of their forms and meanings). How did the art of Iran develop
under the Mongol ilkhans?