AP World History: Period 3
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Trade of goods, people, and faith across North Africa’s Sahara desert peaked from the eighth century CE to the 1500s. Camels were the main mode of transportation. Gold, salt, animal hides, and slaves were among the main items transported out of Africa to points east and north. Muslim merchants imported camels into the region; they also brought along their faith in Islam, which spread rapidly into North and West Africa. Three important West African trade centers along these trade routes were Djenne, Goa, and Timbuktu.
First preached in Arabia in the seventh century CE by the prophet Muhammad, a merchant who preached monotheism. Islam (“submission”) united multiple polytheistic Arab tribes into a common faith. By the mid-700s, it had spread rapidly via trade routes out of southwest Asia across North Africa to Spain and eastward into northern India and Central Asia. Muslim merchants carried Islam into Southeast and East Asia.
Unlike Christianity, Islam had no clear rules of succession after Muhammad. Culturally, Islam united many peoples, but politically, it fragmented into regional states called caliphates, each led by a caliph. The AP World History exam asks more questions about the Abbasid caliphate than the Umayyad or Fatamid caliphates.
A series of Christian versus Muslim military campaigns for the “holy land” in Southwest Asia and for parts of the Byzantine empire. The major Crusades occurred sporadically from 1100 to 1300. Politically, European Christians failed to permanently regain much land, but culturally they reacquired much knowledge through contact with Muslims, including the reintroduction of Greek and Roman learning into Europe, which in turn sparked the Renaissance.
Basically, Dar-al Islam is “everywhere Islam is” across Afro-Eurasia. In the era c. 600-1450, this term described the territory extending from Spain and Northwest Africa all the way to South and Southeast Asia. Dar-al Islam was not a unified political empire but a large region where Islamic faith and culture was dominant.
Diffusion of Religions
In the era c. 600-c. 1450, three religions spread far outside their places of origin: Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam. Buddhism and Christianity were spread by missionary monks. Conversions to Christianity and Islam were also done by “sword mission,” meaning by force. Like Buddhism, Islam was also spread peacefully by merchants along trade routes.
Although the western Roman Empire fell in 476 CE, the eastern portion, headquartered in Constantinople, continued for another thousand years. (Byzantine comes from the original name of Constantinople, Byzantium.) This empire had major economic, social, and political influence over southern and eastern Europe, the Eastern Mediterranean, and Southwest Asia.
Tang and Song Dynasties
The Tang and Song dynasties were two of the most famous dynasties in all of Chinese history, not just in the era c. 600 - c. 1450. Under the Tang and Song dynasties, China had the world’s largest population, the most advanced technology, and the most splendid cities. (How to remember them? “Drink some Tang and sing a Song.”)
Think of “sinification” as the “Chinese-ification” of Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia. China was such a powerful neighbor; it was inevitable that nearby countries would follow its political, social, and economic examples.
“Agents of change” or “an unstoppable tide of horror”—both definitions are right. Mongol forces invaded south China and rode west all the way into Russia and Southwest Asia in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. After brutal conquest, they established a Pax Mongolica: peace and trade throughout their territories.
The Black Death is probably history’s most infamous disease. Historians believe it may have originated along the trade routes near the Black Sea. It spread east and west during the age of the Mongol conquests, killing millions. For example, in the mid-fourteenth century, the Black Death wiped out as much as one-third of the population of western Europe.
The Mayan States were centered in Mesoamerica (southern Mexico and parts of Central America). Like the Egyptians, the Mayan civilization featured pyramids, large cities, a written language, and a complex society. Its height was during the American classic al era of 250 - 900 CE. Tikal was an important Mayan city.
“Coerced labor” includes slavery, serfdom, the corvee (government-required labor on public works projects), and indentured servitude. Forms of coerced labor existed across all civilizations and time periods. For the era c. 600 - c. 1450, European serfdom is a common example of coerced labor found on the AP World History exam.
In western Europe and in Japan in this era, many people served as agricultural workers for landowners, a system called feudalism. In both areas, regional armies fought over land rights at the bidding of their local lords. In Europe, elite warriors were called knights; in Japan, they were known as samurai.
Representing the power of the Ming dynasty, the explorer Zheng He led enormous expeditions that included huge treasure ships and thousands of sailors, and crossed the Indian Ocean and traveled to the Spice Islands of Southeast Asia in the early fifteenth century.
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