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History Of The Indian Ocean Commerce History Essay

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From 650 CE to 1750 CE, there were many changes and continuities in the commerce of the Indian Ocean region. One major continuity in the commerce of the Indian Ocean was the emergence and use of the same trade routes for both imports and exports of goods such as gold and ivory. One major change was how the commerce of the Indian Ocean prospered economically. The commerce of the Indian Ocean developed rapidly, and the trade incorporated places such as East Africa, the Persian Gulf, Red Sea and India. Another major change was the increased involvement of the Europeans in the Indian Ocean commerce shortly after discovering it.

One major continuity in the commerce of the Indian Ocean was the continued use of the same trade routes and ports in the Indian Ocean for imports and exports. Trading ports in East Africa served as a method of transporting goods from Africa. The goods being traded was another continuity. Gold, ivory, and iron were constantly being exported from Africa due to their profitable values. These items could be sold at a profit because they were scarce in Asian countries. Another continuity was the tradition in the use of monsoon winds to help travel. The Indian Ocean trade was made easier by the monsoon winds that circulated between Asia and the Eastern coast which reduced travel times, and produced favorable wind currents.

However, there were also many changes in the commerce of the Indian Ocean. The commerce of the Indian Ocean changed the eastern coast of Africa significantly. The eastern coast of Africa changed because of cultural integration, starting with the migration of Bantus, followed by the merchants and traders of the Muslim world and India. Furthermore, Arabs and Persians began to participate in the trade due to the profitable trading business, trading gold, ivory, ebony, iron, and sandalwood. As a result, big eastern African ports changed and became Islamic cities and major cultural centers. A new language also developed as a result of the mixture of Arabs and Bantu known as Swahili. The Swahili civilizations reflected the integration between the Arabic and Bantu cultures. Major Swahili city states such as Mogadishu, Barawa, and Mombasa changed as a result of the trade and became cosmopolitan, diverse, and more politically independent.

The Swahili city states steadily grew, prospered, and became powerful by the 1400s. However, the Indian Ocean commerce changed when the Portuguese discovered this trading network. Because of the dark ages, the Europeans were far behind and did not discover the Indian Ocean trading until the 15th century. When the Europeans did discover the Indian Ocean commerce however, they became much more involved, and even began to colonize for economic purposes. Vasco da Gamma’s discovery of the Indian Ocean trade network resulted in Portuguese invasion attempts to capture the port cities which brought about a change in the once economically prosperous Swahili city states, as well as the commerce of the Indian Ocean itself. However, the attempts to control the commerce of the Indian Ocean by the Portuguese ultimately failed. Although the Indian Ocean commerce was subject to many changes, slavery was a continuity that was a profitable business before and also during the Indian Ocean trade network. Slavery was carried on by the Arabs, Persians, and some of the Indians. The slave trade was primarily composed of young girls who were used for domestic work and harems. However, this type of slavery was not generational, so their children did not become slaves and women were usually set free in their life time. Men were also enslaved for hard labor, but once the job was done, they were set free. The Europeans who entered the Indian Ocean trade network exploited the slaves by buying hundreds of them to work on plantation fields. Furthermore, the European’s discovery of the Indian Ocean trade network led to the end of the Silk Road because the Europeans no longer had to use the Silk Road to trade but instead traded in the Indian Ocean trade network.

The Indian Ocean commerce was subject to many changes from 650 CE to 1750 CE. One major change was the increased involvement of the Europeans in the commerce of the Indian Ocean over time. There were also continuities, which include the use of the same trade routes. Many cultures are integrated through trade and commerce, and the Indian Ocean trade network is a good example of how regions change through trade and commerce economically and culturally.

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One region that changed as a result of the Indian Ocean trade network was China, when explorer Zheng He set out on his seven maritime expeditions that took him to the Arabian Peninsula and Africa. Despite their low standards and view of merchants, the Chinese began to slowly change from being ethnocentric to trading with other cultures. The introduction of the Indian Ocean trade to China encouraged the Chinese to trade with other cultures, resulting in cultural integration. However, during the Ming dynasty, China became once again ethnocentric and isolated, with explorations ended, and records of the expeditions destroyed. (one continuity)The Indian Ocean trade was made easier by the monsoon winds that circulated between Asia and the Eastern coast which reduced travel times, and produced favorable wind currents.

For example, with the addition of merchants and traders from the Muslim world and India, the eastern coast of Africa prospered. In turn,


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