Lesson Summary The Trans-Saharan caravan trade had its roots in Arabs from North Africa known as Berbers who carried and traded goods across the desert. Transformed by its competition with Buddhism, popular Hinduism emphasized the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita rather than the rituals of the Vedas or the philosophical musings of the Upanishads. All of these advancements increased participation, facilitated navigation, and removed some of the risks of maritime trade. Continuing a phenomenon from the classical age, they would also spread disease; the Black Death would spread from Asia to Western Europe along Silk Road and maritime routes eventually killing about one third of the people there. Although the merchants and merchandizes were different, the fundamental pattern of economic and cultural exchange was the same in the Atlantic trade as it had been in the caravan trade. Many other people were imported into the region, besides Zanj.
There were seven primary north-south routes, six principal forest routes, and two west-east routes. Another example of cross-cultural exchanges during this time was the rise of diasporic merchant communities. But the amount of coins needed for large purchases could be bulky and dangerous to transport. In an era known as the Pax Mongolica, or Peace of the Mongols, trade flourished under the protection of a flexible legal system and diplomatic protocols. For example, societies living in areas with forest products can exchange them for salt from desert areas, and grain crops from savannah areas. Krishna tells him to carry out the duties of the warrior caste in which he belongs. A camel can drink up to fifty gallons of water at a time and easily endure days--sometimes weeks--without water.
The Egyptian cities of Cairo and Alexandria, now under Muslim rule, became powerful commercial centers of the Mediterranean network. To extend commercial connections to Western European markets, the Mongols encouraged the building of port cities such as Kaffa on the Black Sea. They were mostly domestic servants, though some served as agricultural labourers, or as water carriers, herdsmen, seamen, camel drivers, porters, washerwomen, masons, shop assistants and cooks. The earliest form of trade was simple bilateral exchanges between two parties--ten chickens for one goat, for example. As markers of status, they testify to expenditures arising out of surpluses far beyond necessity.
Another example of cross-cultural exchanges during this time was the rise of diasporic merchant communities. As trans-Saharan trade spread Islam through a network of merchants, agriculturists, intellectuals, rulers and urban dwellers, Islam gained greater influence in Africa and beyond. This meant breeders had to keep a population of both purebred Bactrian and Dromedary camels for the purpose of cross breeding them. The gold was carried to the north, where it was probably used for payment of dates, corn and such handicrafts which the nomads could not produce themselves. Mali was founded by Sunjata Keita in the 13 th century, defeating the blacksmith king Sumanguru Kante.
This blending of pagan and Christian symbolism made the new religion seem less threatening to traditionally minded Romans. Because this is a maritime network, Indian Ocean trade continued to be the ideal network for exchanging bulk items, such as timber, ivory, spices, cotton textiles, and other things that would be difficult to move on land routes. The establishment of regular trade routes stimulated the development of various monetary systems in the Western Sudan, which used cowrie shells from the Maldive Islands , strips of cotton cloth, minted gold dinars from North Africa, standard weights of gold dust, kola nuts, glass beads, and salt as currency. In all areas it absorbed influences from its host culture. For example, the Persian religion of Zoroastrianism profoundly influenced Islam, primarily through the vehicles of Judaism and Christianity. It placed mystical experiences of God over doctrinal purity. Finally, an instrument called the astrolabe allowed skilled sailors to determine their latitude at sea.
These urban centres were vital to the organization of the trans-Saharan trade as a whole. On the Malay peninsula in southeast Asia, the Buddhist kingdom of Srivijaya thrived on the lucrative spice trade that flowed through the straits of Malacca. Its surrounding marshes and thick forests protected it from the Mongol conquests allowing its importance for the coveted trade in fine furs to be uninterrupted. The archeological evidence for Islam, and its connection to the Trans-Saharan trade route, is found in two areas in particular: Sudan and Nigeria. In contrast to the Atlantic slave trade, where the male-female ratio was 2:1 or 3:1, the Arab slave trade instead usually had a higher female-to-male ratio. Gold was one of the most sought after resources from sub-Saharan countries, such as the ancient Kingdom of Ghana and regions of Sudan. The early West African states such as early Ghana, had an influence that extended well into North Africa and vice versa.
The city's control of trade provoked the jealousy of the merchants of Venice, a powerful commercial city-state that thrived on the Italian peninsula at this time. By the 15 th century, when the Atlantic trade would begin, the trans-Saharan trade had been flourishing for at least 5 centuries, and had already shaped the rise, fall, and consolidation of many West African states and societies. Decline of trans-Saharan trade The journeys around the West African coast opened up new avenues for trade between Europe and West Africa. The Arab slave trade in the Indian Ocean, Red Sea, and Mediterranean Sea long predated the arrival of any significant number of Europeans on the African continent south of the Sahara. For example, a merchant from South Asia traveling help bridge the cultural differences between the merchant and the host culture in which he was conducting business.
Their leader Yahya ibn Ibrahim al-Jaddali met with an Islamic scholar named Abdallah ibn Yasin al-Jazuli. Secondly, Islam provided them effective means to increase their power. It had is own court system to settle disputes and could summon military force to protect any of its members. Every town paid tribute to her. In the Bhagavad Gita, the warrior Arjuna prays to Krishna to spare him the agony of killing people in battle.